Top Developer Books for Learning Programming

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On Wednesdays I cover a random topic related to development and today I want to discuss some of the top developer books that have helped me grow as a programmer over the years.

Considering that there are thousands of programming languages and frameworks, along with near countless design patterns it wouldn’t make sense to list off the top developer books related to a specific programming language. For example, I loved going through “The Well-Grounded Rubyist” by David Black, but that wouldn’t help you much if you’re a C# programmer.

With that in mind this is a list of books I’ve gone through that you can go through regardless of what language or framework you use, the goal of these books is how you can become the best developer that you can be with a focus on the best ways to become a true coding craftsman.

Top Developer Books

The first in the list of top developer books is “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” by Cal Newport. Newport is one of my favorite writers, with his experience as a computer scientist, he does a great job of combining research with real world application. In this book he discusses how the true path to fulfillment is not following your passion, but instead focusing on becoming the very best at whatever you do, and he gives practical recommendations and examples of how you can you can accomplish it.

The next book is the “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant. The COO of Facebook wrote the forward for this book and walks through examples of people who challenged the status quo and changed the face of the technology world. Grant uses practical examples to illustrate the character traits of tech leaders great and small. He also does a great job of picking out details of people’s lives that I hadn’t noticed before.

Another Cal Newport book, “Deep Work” is the next one on the list. Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University, and his experience as a teacher really shines through in this book. Throughout the book he gives practical advice on how to become an expert at any task that you’re willing to be diligent with. He also backs up his strategies with real world examples and research.

Next on the list is “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” by Walter Isaacson. I think I went through this book in about three days, it was absolutely riveting. Starting a few hundred years ago with Ada Lovelace and going through modern technology times, Isaacson gives a mini biography on the individuals involved in ushering in the technological revolution. As a developer it was inspiring and insightful to hear all of the stories about the people who built the systems that I work on each day.

Last on this list is “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” by Googler Jake Knapp. There are countless times when I get stuck on a big feature for an application, this book does a great job in giving a practical system for building significant features in a very short period of time. The strategies revolve around a high level of focus on a single task and having a structured product development plan.

As you may have noticed there is a common theme among the books, which is having real world strategies and examples of how to become successful as a developer. The task of learning how to code is never over, each day there is something new to learn, and with the strategies outlined in these books you can put together a structured path to continuous improvement.

top developer books

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