When Linus Torvalds speaks, people tend to listen, not just because he is responsible for the Linux operating systems we used today, but because he always makes sense in what he's saying.
Being a top-level maintainer for the Linux kernel must be an exhaustive job, especially if your name is Linus Torvalds. We usually hear him speak at conferences or at universities, but we don't really know what he's like in the day-to-day life.
Nothing says more about a person's character and interests than the books he's reading, and Linus' tastes are as varied and interesting as they come. More importantly, they don't quite match the image he's made for himself.
Linus Torvalds answered a lot of users’ questions in a long session, on slashdot.org. There were a lot of boring questions that we've heard a million times before. We can't imagine how many times he's heard them.
One user asked a different question that wasn't related to Linux, but was about this reading habits and preferences.
The answers were surprising and interesting, at the same time. Linus Torvalds confessed that most of the literature he has read so far was pretty much forgettable, but he did remember some of the books.
"On the non-fiction side, Richard Dawkin's 'The Selfish Gene' was one book that I think is pretty influential. On the fiction side, as a teenager I enjoyed Heinlein's 'Stranger in a strange land' a lot, and I have to admit to 'Lord of the Rings' having been pretty important to me - but for a slightly odd reason, not as a huge Tolkien fan,” said Torvalds.
He also admitted that he really liked his Kindle and he usually read self-published works, promoted through Amazon.
It's certainly a nice change of pace from other technical questions he's answered in the past, especially because little is known about Linus Torvalds the man, and not the programmer.