How to be a Programmer with 10 Simple Books (GGG5)
Write what you know. In this case, what I know about is being a geek. Over the next few days I’ll be suggesting things that I liked. I’ll be giving ball-park prices (in Canadian dollars) and at the end of each post I’ll include a link to where you can find all of the items on Amazon.
(photo (c) torek)
Unlike the rest of the posts in these series, I haven’t read most of these books. I’m basing the recommendations on the countless other lists on other tech websites, particularly Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror. These books are programming language independent and would make a great gift for anyone working in high tech.
If you are interested in this subject for yourself, you probably want to head over to Scott Rosenberg’s Code Reads series where he analyzes the classics.
Books for Programmers
Joel on Software (CDN$ 17.99) by Joel Spolsky – One of the few I’ve already read. Joel (of joelonsoftware.com) is by far the most engaging writers in high tech (with Kathy Sierra as a close second). You can read my review of the book here. It’s very general in most places, and too specific in others, but it still remains a must read if only because it is one of the few “page turner” tech books.
This book covers every imaginable aspect of software programming, from the best way to write code to the best way to design an office in which to write code. The book will relate to all software programmers (Microsoft and Open Source), anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of programming, or anyone trying to manage a programmer.
Code Complete (CDN$ 45.98) by Steve McConnell – Another one of the two books on this list I’ve actually read, this will teach you the mechanics of becoming a better programmer by writing better code. Asking someone if they’ve read this book should be the first question in a phone interview.
The Best Software Writing I: Selected and I… (CDN$ 17.99)
Frustrated by the lack of well-written essays on software engineering, Joel Spolsky (of http://www.joelonsoftware.com fame) has put together a collection of his favorite writings on the topic.
With a nod to both the serious and funny sides of technical writing, The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky is an entertaining read and a guide to the technical writing literati.
The Best Software Writing I contains writings from: Ken Arnold, Leon Bambrick, Michael Bean, Rory Blyth, Adam Bosworth, danah boyd, Raymond Chen, Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi, Cory Doctorow, ea_spouse, Bruce Eckel, Paul Ford, Paul Graham, John Gruber, Gregor Hohpe, Ron Jeffries, Eric Johnson, Eric Lippert, Michael Lopp, Larry Osterman, Mary Poppendieck, Rick Schaut, Aaron Swartz, Clay Shirky, and Eric Sink. (Names in bold are blogs I subscribe to.)
Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley
Written in a quick and lively style, this book is packed with good advice and is a valuable read for programmers at any level. Each chapter discusses a problem the programmer will face every day, and suggests methods around it. The philosophy underlying the book is creativity. The author encourages the programmer to think creatively and to find new ways around old problems. This approach is still fresh and welcomed by many software groups.
The Pragmatic Programmer (CDN$ 34.01) by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas
Programmers are craftspeople trained to use a certain set of tools (editors, object managers, version trackers) to generate a certain kind of product (programs) that will operate in some environment (operating systems on hardware assemblies). Like any other craft, computer programming has spawned a body of wisdom, most of which isn’t taught at universities or in certification classes. Most programmers arrive at the so-called tricks of the trade over time, through independent experimentation. In The Pragmatic Programmer, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas codify many of the truths they’ve discovered during their respective careers as designers of software and writers of code.
Books for Managers
The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks
Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month . With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (CDN$ 38.49) by Tom DeMarco and Timothy R. Lister
Peopleware asserts that most software development projects fail because of failures within the team running them. This strikingly clear, direct book is written for software development team leaders and managers, but it’s filled with enough common-sense wisdom to appeal to anyone working in technology. Peopleware is a short read that delivers more than many books on the subject twice its size.
Books for Anyone
The Design of Everyday Things (CDN$ 14.02) by Donald A. Norman
First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new competitive frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how–and why–some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.
Hackers & Painters (CDN$ 20.37) by Paul Graham
“In most fields the great work is done early on. The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed. Shakespeare appeared just as professional theater was being born, and pushed the medium so far that every playwright since has had to live in his shadow. Albrecht Durer did the same thing with engraving, and Jane Austen with the novel. Over and over we see the same pattern. A new medium appears, and people are so excited about it that they explore most of its possibilities in the first couple generations. Hacking seems to be in this phase now. Painting was not, in Leonardo’s time, as cool as his work helped make it. How cool hacking turns out to be will depend on what we can do with this new medium.”
I’ve made a list of all these tech books in one place at Amazon. Looking at the product description on Amazon.ca will bring you to the Amazon for your country.
- Introduction – Some personal stories of what the holiday experience is usually like for me.
- Gifts.com – I go through one of those gift suggestion websites and try to pick out the good from the bad. TIP: these sites suck.
- Gamers – A list of what I think is good for the Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and PC video gamers.
- Comic Books – My favorite comic books available in trade paperbacks.
- Programming/Tech Books – Top ten recommended books for programmers, managers and anyone working in high tech.
- Books – 45 of my favorite books (non-fiction, fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, humour).
- Movies – 81 of the best DVD recommendations.
- TV series on DVD – some shows I like.
- T-shirts – 100+ geek t-shirts that I like.
- Last Minute Suggestions – waited to long and need a gift in a hurry? Try these.