This is not my first review of a book that covers a dialect of Lisp (see: Land of Lisp). That is because I am not alone in believing that learning Lisp makes you a better programmer, even if you never use it for any official project or paid job.
This is also not my first review of a book that is intended for young programmers. That is because I think learning a programming language is a useful skill worthy of pursuit, even if you never use it for anything but fun.
Realm of Racket was written by a group of people, including Conrad Barski, M.D, the author of Land of Lisp. Like that book, this is a book filled with enjoyable art, clear prose, and an easy to follow structure. The examples used in the book are easy to comprehend and do a very good job of illustrating the concepts being taught while also being interesting.
Why a group, though? Well, the back story is that is a book that was written by college freshmen and that is intended for a similar audience. As a result, it is alternately playful and unpretentious, with an eye for fun over drudgery, while at the same time being solid on the technical aspects (due to the supervision of knowledgeable people, or perhaps the young authors were just that good, the book doesn’t say).
So, what is Racket? The short answer is that Racket is a derivative of Scheme, which is in turn a derivative of Lisp. Some like to call them Lisp dialects. The book gives a solid grasp of important fundamentals with a clear description of the technical details. This is done by teaching the reader to program games, bit by bit. It is a fun and clear way to learn.
The book is filled with informal quips and illustrations, even the occasional comic. I have nothing bad to say about the book. I will say that the style is unique and may not suit everyone, but I think that is a direct result of the authors’ intent to pursue teaching programming to a market that does not like stodgy, formal textbooks. If that describes you or someone you know, the book is worth a look.
Disclosure: I was given my copy of this book by the publisher as a review copy.