Top 3 must-read books for developers
Some books should be mandatory for all developers. These books have completely changed my way of doing and seeing things. They are not all technical. They’re not even all about development. They’re all incredible.
Paper in 2020?
Before we get started, we need to discuss why you should buy a book when you have the internet at your disposal. The answer is simple. There is no quality comparison.
You have the choice between a book that’s been crafted over the years and the resources on the internet.
And in fact, it’s worse than that. What you will find on the internet is often based on these exceptional books.
So, of course, not all books are the same. And I also know that you don’t have much time in general.
So today we’re only going to look at the best of the best. I’m only going to introduce you to some indispensable collections of secrets. They will all give you a decisive advantage.
3 : Clean Code
It’s 8am, I’m super stressed, this is my very first day of internship in my very first company. The welcome is warm. Quickly, I am settled in. They explain to me the first task i’ll need to do.
Wanting to impress everyone, I do it as quickly as possible. My code works, ship it! I send it to my lead tech and I wait for the answer.
A few hours later, he comes next to me and we go over everything I’ve done. I was going to do it all over again.
During his explanations, I realize how logical and clean his way of thinking is. I told myself that he is just too strong and that all this is innate in him. You know, that old feeling that everyone knows better than you?
At the end of the day, he handed me a book. A book that would instantly increase the quality of everything I produce. The book Clean Code.
You are wondering how to concretely differentiate the good from the bad code? That’s exactly what you’ll find in this book. It will serve you everywhere, all the time, throughout your career.
You’ll find everything in it. How to name things right? How to build your functions? How to manage tests, errors, right up to system design. It’s all there, in the same place, in the same package.
This book is a monument that cannot be ignored. Your legendary weapon to face all the code reviews of your life.
I found it easy to read at the beginning and it gets a little more complex towards the end. Especially if you do the exercises. The book insists that you do them by the way.
Believe me, it’s really worth the effort. I apply things from this book every day.
2 : Soft Skills : The software developer’s life manual
Second stop and we get out of the technical books. Yes, already! And there’s a good reason for that. The technical side of your job is not the most complex. After several years, you quickly realize that.
What is complex is to make the right career choices, keep up with technologies through learning, to stay productive, to work with others and everything that has to do with soft skill.
This is exactly what Soft Skill: The software developer’s life manual is all about.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve noticed that I frequently talk about the pomodoro technique. It’s from this book. This blog itself, this book is the trigger. I have very special techniques to learn new technologies quickly, it comes from this book. If today I’m working in the company of my choice, on the very particular subject that interests me, with a very competitive salary: it’s entirely thanks to this book.
It’s a real gold mine that has the power to take you very far in your career.
For me, it has been a turning point in a lot of things I’ve done.
For you, I think it can have exactly the same effect.
1 : Deep work
I am writing this article under very special conditions. I’m in the middle of pomodoro. My phone is away with the notifications off. My office door is closed and I asked not to be disturbed. I have nothing open except WordPress and my notes on paper in front of me. I am 100% focused on one goal: to bring as much value as possible to my reader. It’s the only thing that makes a reader come back or not.
I’m only 1h30 in this article. I’ve already told you half of what I have to tell you. This article is the 116th on this blog. I publish two articles a week (a new one in French, a translation in English). 21 of them are in first position on Google searches. This year alone, I’m peaking at 1 million visits.
Besides that, I have friends and family. I also have a full-time job. A very demanding job. How do I do it? Do I have superpowers? No, I apply everything I read in the book Deep work.
Before reading this book, I knew that all these micro-interruptions / notifications were bad. But I didn’t know how much it was slowing everything down. It’s absolutely terrifying to read the truth.
The world we live in is designed to interrupt us in what we do. Pop-up, notification, social networks, mail, chat, meetings, discord, slack, teams: THIS IS THE WORST !
You are extremely concerned about all this as a developer. This job is one of the most demanding in terms of concentration in the world. A huge concentration over a long period of time!
Why am I going to these extremes? A picture is worth more than a thousand words:
Cal Newsports, the author of this book, is himself a graduate developer from MIT. And he talks a lot about software development in this book, which is even more interesting for us!
This book has taught me everything I need to know about how to manage my concentration and finally be efficient with the time I have at my disposal. I highly recommend it to you. Frankly, I think it should be a mandatory book in a developer training.
And not only for your job, by the way. For everything you want to do. Deep concentration is the magic potion of modern times. It’s just that nobody wants to try it anymore.
The other books
If you clicked on this article expecting to find only technical articles, you must be outraged right now.
As I told you, the technique is easy. It can be learned. Most of the time you learn it on the job. It’s not the priority if you look at all the books you have to read.
But if you really don’t care about what I tell you and you want technical books, I’ve made a little list of bonus books.
Head first design patterns
For a long time, at the beginning of my career, I avoided learning software design patterns. I’ll be honest, I found it boring and head-scratching. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The problem was that every time I wanted to get into it, I came across some very complex resources that I didn’t like. This book is the opposite. It’s a clear, well thought-out explanation, with lots of sketches, which goes step by step in a logical and pleasant way. If you’re in the same situation as I was then, try it, you won’t be disappointed!
Cracking the code interview
Not long ago, I wrote an article on technical interviews. These interviews have become a second skill to master if you want to go where you want as a developer. It’s sad, but that’s the reality of things. This book allows you to learn and master this second skill. It is an absolute must read for me if you want to do technical interviews in a medium or large company!
If you still want more you will find here a list of open source books about your job!