Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things” as Want to Read:
Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  678 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Lauren Ipsum is a full-color, illustrated adventure that introduces you to computer science with a fantastical tale... that never once mentions computers! Follow Laurie, a clever girl lost in Userland, as she uses logic and problem solving skills to find her way home. Along the way, you'll explore all sorts of computer science concepts, including timing attacks, algorithm ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 14th 2014 by No Starch Press (first published November 18th 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lauren Ipsum, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lauren Ipsum

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  678 ratings  ·  138 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
This book is supposed to be released in December, but since I helped funding it through Kickstarter, I received my copy 3 weeks early and couldn't wait to read it. Written by an engineer working for Facebook and his wife, "Lauren Ipsum" is meant to be a book for teaching computer science to children. This is done in the form of a fairy tale that doesn't actually involve any computers, but instead focusses on programming as a way of thinking. This is a commendable teaching approach and to be hone ...more
Jason Hall
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of an Alice in Wonderland for computer nerds. Also had elements of Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, except with better explanations of the algorithms used.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In its best moments this book reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (quirky and thought-provoking with funny word play and turning of abstract ideas into entertaining characters and scenarios). Some of it felt more contrived than the Phantom Tollbooth, but it was overall an enjoyable read.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the "guide" that helps the reader relate everything in the story to its reference point in computer science is located in the back of the book. Given that this book i
Anna Wiggins
I really wanted to like this book more than I do. It is a mosaic adventure story in the tradition of Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth, and it does that well enough, but the emotional payoff at the end of the book just doesn't work. The book never quite makes you care about any of the characters. Instead, it's very invested in its ideas. There are some good ideas, and some great and terrible jokes... but without an emotional core to hold it together, it all just feels a bit flat. ...more
John Schwabacher
My son Sam was assigned this book for an honors Computer Science course at the UW.

It is the closest thing I've ever found to one of my favorite kids's books - The Phantom Tollbooth. It follows a young girl through a fantasy land where she is introduced to computer science ideas (with no computers in the story at all) and solves problems to reach her goals. There are quirky characters and gratuitous puns. Very enjoyable.
This book is basically The Phantom Tollbooth, but for computer science. I think the first time I tried to read it, I was too caught up in trying to understand every little nuance and how it related to computer science. I picked it up again today, and just read it a a story -- much more enjoyable! I even feel like I learned something! ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was downloading the ebooks from my Kobo library and I found THIS! It gave me the kind of feeling you get when you come across an old favourite forgotten on a top shelf. True, it's only been maybe five or six years since I read this, but I'd quite forgotten about it. It's a lovely little book introducing computer sciencey concepts and ideas to kids. Yes, I already knew about the traveling merchant problem but it was fun to meet him anyway. ...more
Amanda Cummings
Cute story that would be an amazing read for budding scientists and mathematicians. There's tons of logic puzzles and theories in there that are taught with real life examples. It was an alright read and I did get that happy feeling at the end :) ...more
Kam Yung Soh
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computing, technology
An interesting tale about a girl who wanders into Userland and while reading about her quest to return to her home, the reader picks up concepts in Computer Science and Programming without ever encountering a computer (which is just a concrete application of Computer Science).

Starting with meeting Jargon-like creatures that nearly overwhelm her, she meets up with the Travelling Salesman who directs her to a person who creates ideas which starts her on a journey delivering telescopes to various l
H Lynnea
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Computer Science fans, fans of The Phantom Tollbooth
I adored this book. There, no beating around the bush for me.

This books is very short, and a nice quick read, and surprisingly informative. It's about computer science and computer programming, without having a single computer in it. How do you do that? By showing the underlying principles. The basis of any computer programming is being able to apply logic and to break down complex ideas into simple ones. These are some of the principles that the book teaches.

Like one of my most favorite books,
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I'm not the target audience, though. I put this on my wishlist partially because I wanted to evaluate how appropriate it would be for gifting to the children in my life. I'm convinced that people who are already familiar with computer science/engineering would enjoy this and find it clever. It perhaps might be appropriate for children with a parent or very close adult with whom they could discuss the topics in the book. My intuition is that children without such a resource o ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
This was a really fun read - it's meant to introduce computer science concepts, without beating you over the head with them.

I really enjoyed how the book had different layers - on the surface it's a story about a girl who gets lost and has to find her way home. But on the way she encounters a Travelling Salesman, Fencepost problems, binary decisions ... and a chameleon named XOR who doesn't blend very well with his surroundings. The more you pay attention, the more fun the details are. And there
Jamie King
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
This book is absolutely brilliant. I try be critical in my reviews and put a lot respect into the rating system, reserving the 5 star spot for those only really deserving and valuable- trying to stay objective for books I know I enjoyed far more than it was worth.

The logic puzzles Lauren encounters along the way use great real world examples to teach new concepts that force you to stretch your imagination when problem solving.

Young readers should find the book easily approachable. It remains tim
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved this book. You can think of this book as Pre - "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" i.e. book to read before you read SICP. It's really fascinating to read such a beautifully written book. It's a short book which you finish it in few hours. And I would say it is for everyone and anyone. Even if you are not into computer science, this book will talk about the bigger ideas which are applicable to any field. ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book will probably be enjoyed by 2 types of readers: hi tech computer types or no tech fantasy fans. I guess I know enough tech stuff to notice some of the events/topics/characters are actually computer programming things but am annoyed by the tech parts I don't recognize. As a pure fantasy, it was too rambling and unconnected for me. Back matter has details on all the computer programming stuff. ...more
Keith Peters
This was sold to me as a nice introduction to algorithms for kids. It's definitely Alice in Wonderland for ideas and algorithms, but the connection seems as tenuous as Alice in Wonderland teaching about non-Euclidean geometry.

And it felt like just a large collection of in-jokes for people who already had a firm grasp on the material.
Jo Oehrlein
Cute book with lots of hints at different computer science/programming things.

It reminds me of The Man Who Counted, but without as many puzzles for you to do along the way.

There are chapter-by-chapter notes at the end explaining some of the references.
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-lit
I may have tagged this as children-lit, but I can't really decide where this should go. It's not written lyrically, so an adult can't turn it into a read aloud. Yet, the child reading this book wouldn't be able to skim over parts they don't understand, as the whole point of the book is to Learn Something. The best thing to do would be to use this book as a discussion between an adult and a child as they read it together.

Like Alice through the Looking Glass, this book aims to teach children abou
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christopher Mclean
I can see what Bueno was aiming for here combining an Alice In Wonderland like story with computing and computer science concepts. Unfortunately I don't think Lauren Ipsum delivers on that premise, with a fairly dry story, a plot that jumps from point to point without much interconnection and the descriptions of CS elements feeling very shallow, almost to the point of just name dropping at times.

My favorite part was the appendix that worked through each chapter going into more details on the var
Albert Sun
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this to my 5 y.o. one or two chapters at a time as a series of bedtime stories. Some of the concepts are a bit advanced for his age, but overall he enjoyed the fanciful characters and situations very much. He even cried at the end... won't spoil it by revealing why, but nothing terrible happens, it's just a little poignant. Love this book for its creativity and the fun ways that computer science/mathematics concepts are introduced organically as part of the world and incorporated into a bea ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adorable Alice journey set in the world of computer programming. You don't need to be proficient in programming logic to enjoy this quick read. Only a programmer would understand all the references, but it's written for beginners to enjoy. Plus, a lot of the concepts explored are explained at the end, anyway. ...more
Senthil Kumaran
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Learnt some valuable computer science concepts too since this was taught to a child, it was very easy to grasp. The concepts share are foundational and it is presented in a neat, easy to understand manner. I internalized the importance of "naming", the thing with jargons and principle of 5-whys. Very helpful book. ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Essentially Phantom Tollbooth for computer science concepts. Generally thin plot and characters, and doesn't convey the concepts particularly well because the explanations are hidden in an appendix at the back of the book. The appendix doesn't even have the courtesy to be in chronological order (listed alphabetically). I did like the Jargon critters. Wysiwyg! ...more
Nathan Feaver
Jul 13, 2020 rated it liked it
It was interesting and quick. It referenced a lot of computer scienc-y things (lorem ipsum isn't really computer science! But it is cute, I suppose). The explanation of those computer science things was somewhat lacking. A novice to the scene will learn a small amount of things in low detail and understand most of the jokes. A seasoned expert will appreciate some of the humor a bit more. ...more
5th to 7th grade reading level
the girl called Laurie got lost and it is up to her to navigate herself through Userland. This book teaches you about some technological phrases and riddle like questions.
Jerry Yoakum
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun and quick read that I would approve for younger readers. I think it would be an enjoyable read even if it is only read for a fun aspect. It is a good way to introduce computer science jargon and a few concepts.
Kim Mens
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is like an Alice in Wpnderland for computer scientists. Its unclear to me however what the target audience is. Kids may
miss a lot of the deeper contents. Computer scientists may not learn a lot new. Still, a fun read during a long train ride or flight.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book not a technical or even theoretical book on computer science. Rather it has a fun story with computer science ideas thrown in. There is an explanation of how concepts of the story relate to real computer science at the end of the book. It is simple enough for almost anyone to enjoy.
Laura Haske
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, read-alouds
What a creative book! I read it aloud with my son because it was one of his favorite books. It's a story that explores the concepts that underpin computer science. There's not much in terms of character development, but it's a fun exploration of ideas. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
  • The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers
  • The CS Detective: An Algorithmic Tale of Crime, Conspiracy, and Computation
  • The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good
  • Unsolved!: The History and Mystery of the World's Greatest Ciphers from Ancient Egypt to Online Secret Societies
  • Tmux 2: Productive Mouse-Free Development
  • Practical Vim: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought
  • Real-World Bug Hunting: A Field Guide to Web Hacking
  • Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World
  • Sudo Mastery: User Access Control for Real People
  • Modern Vim: Craft Your Development Environment with Vim 8 and Neovim
  • Terraform: Up & Running: Writing Infrastructure as Code
  • Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters
  • Make Life Beautiful
  • A Game of Thrones: The Book of Ice and Fire RPG rulebook
  • Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition)
  • Paranoia: Red Clearance Edition
  • The FibroManual: A Complete Treatment Guide to Fibromyalgia for You . . . and Your Doctor
See similar books…

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
291 likes · 27 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“There’s no need to use a big, complex idea when a small simple one will do.” 4 likes
“The truth is that computer science is not really about the computer. It is just a tool to help you see ideas more clearly.” 4 likes
More quotes…