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Books on Code: Kristen’s Winter Reading List

During the winter months, when the days are shorter and the weather is colder, what’s more relaxing than curling up with a good book? If you are looking for your next read, Kristen Dettoni has some suggestions for you. Below is a list of her favorite books on code, many of which inspired her Cryptology Collection, a series of original pattern designs inspired by code, the hidden messages they communicate, and the women codebreakers of World War II.

Books on Code Reading List

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies
by Jason Fagone 

From Kristen: “Of course, my favorite. It was reading this book that started me down this whole path of patterns and coding. It is a well-written story of Elizabeth Smith Friedman and her life.”

Code Girls: The True Story of the American Women Who Secretly Broke Codes in World War II
by Liza Mundy 

From Kristen: “This was the next book I picked up to learn more about the women in coding. I loved that all these women led the way for other women to have careers in science, computing, and cryptology. These women were instrumental in the advancements in computer technology made during the war to crack the enigma codes. They may not have been invited to the table had it not been for the war.”

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptology
by Simon Singh

From Kristen: “This was my third book that took a deep dive into coding and cryptology. This book is full of fascinating stories and facts and explains, as basically as possible, solving the problem of email encryption and the conundrum of truly unbreakable codes. It’s a bit mindblowing!”

Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage
by Nathalia Holt 

From Kristen: “The more I learner, the more I became interested in all the women who participated and advanced our espionage technology and the struggles they had. Again, these women broke barriers in their fields. It was interesting to learn that in many situations, women were better than their male counterparts simply because no one expected female spies.” 

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
by Sonia Purnell

From Kristen: “This book is about Virginia Hall and her extraordinary life as a spy in occupied France during WWII. I am not going to say much more so as not to spoil it!”

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
by Karen Abbott

From Kristen: “This was about four women who were spies during the US Civil War. Two of the women worked for the Union Army in the North, and two for the Confederate Army in the South. The most interesting was Emma Edmonds, who successfully posed as a man to enlist in the Union Army.”

These books should be easy to find at your local library, online, or at your favorite local independent bookstore

What About You?

Have you read any books about code that have inspired you? We would love to hear your recommendations! DM us through Instagram and we’ll add it to our reading list! If you’re looking for more to read, don’t miss our summer reading list featuring books on color.

And don’t forget, we recently published our own book about the making of our award-winning Cryptology Collection. You can buy your own copy through Blurb Books.

Photo credit: Kristen Julianna Photography

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Emma Becker

Emma Becker is a teaching artist and arts administrator working in the state of Rhode Island. She believes art, creativity, and self-expression are essential parts of education. The daughter of a weaver, she grew up surrounded by textiles and developed a deep respect for textiles and their makers.


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