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Last Update: 2023 - 05 - 24

Book recommendations for software developers

I own about 60-70 books on programming. I hardly read half of them. So, considering I’m in the software development industry for nearly 20 years, it safe to say I do not read very many books on computer programming.

Most books on programming are written in a fairly boring style. They cover lots and lots of details of some particular technologies you will hardly ever use in practice. Most of them are superseded by a newer version of the language or technology before you used them. Your knowledge gained by those kind of book will become obsolete very fast.

This is not the type of book I’m going to mention here. Many of the books I recommend here, are fairly old. In the fast moving technology sector you could say they are ancient. But this does not reduce their value at all. These books are evergreens. What you can learn from them will not be obsolete with the next version of your favorite programming language.  It will most likely even be still relevant, if you choose to focus on a different programming language altogether.

As long as you are in the software development trade, you will be able to build on the foundations of knowledge you gained from these books.

A short note on the links on this page. The links are Amazon affiliate links. If you use any of these links to purchase one of the books, I will get a small commission from Amazon for sending you there. This does not affect the price you pay for the book at all.

About Face - The Essentials of Interaction Design

Book cover - About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design - 4th Edition

The first book I like to present here is one that I think is special, because it is on a topic that so often overlooked by developers.

Every so often we developers focus too much on the internal, technical behavior of our solutions and far too little on their user interfaces.

Our users will only see the user interface. They will never know how beautiful your code was formatted, how elegant it is written and how innovative the algorithms are. They just see the user interface and they experience how the program behaves towards them.

I've seen so many programs that look horribly ugly and behave like a three year old brat throwing tantrums. Sometimes I had the opportunity to speak to their creators. - They were mostly ignorant to all those shortcoming of their creations.

So, let me introduce you to a book that will improve your awareness of the user interface. How its merits and flaws are perceived by the user. It will show you many aspects of user interface and user interaction design.

The author trio (of the third edition) elaborates on designing digital products and services for humans. While I do not agree on each and every thought they wrote in there, this book is without doubt one of the most valuable books I ever read.

The concept of Personas, archetypes describing the various goals and behaviors of users, were initially shaped by Alan Cooper in this book. Today they are a widely acknowledged and used concept in user interaction design.

If you really want to broaden your horizon, not as a programmer, but as a software developer, then read this book. - Your users will be very thankful for that!

I myself read only the third edition, About Face 3 - The Essentials of Interaction Design (by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin), yet.

There is an updated fourth edition, including new content covering the design of mobile platforms. About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design - 4th Edition by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann, David Cronin, and Christopher Noessel.

The Unwritten Laws of Business

I cannot remember when I bought this book. I must have been a couple of years ago. I just put it on my bookshelf - unread. Until it caught my attention last week. - I was looking for a light and easy read and so I grabbed this rather small and thin (a little over 100 pages only) book. It took only a few pages until I was hooked and read it cover to cover in two days.

Book cover - The Unwritten Laws of Business

Originally written as “The Unwritten Laws of Engineering” by W. J. King in the 1940ties, this was praised by the Financial Times as a ‘hidden gem’. So true, as confirmed by my own experience.

“Don’t be timid - speak up - express yourself and promote your ideas.”

Now, why do I recommend this book here?

This book is not about software development in particular. That does not matter. You work with colleagues, your boss, and/or clients, maybe you even oversee a team of employees. You manage projects and you strive to advance your career. All these are topics that are covered in this book’s very short chapters. Regardless of your current position on the career path, there will be something in this book relevant for you.

“Let ethical behavior govern your actions and those of your company.”

You may ask yourself, are these almost 80-year-old texts still relevant today? Be assured, they are! James Skakoon has given the original text a gentle overhaul to adapt them to today’s business realities. Yet much of the original language was preserved. I cannot say, I read words like affable, funereal, subservience, or vacillating anywhere else before. - It’s a joy to read these out-of-fashion terms. Still, it easy to follow the gist of the text even for a non-native speaker of the English language.

So, don’t hesitate to order your copy of The Unwritten Laws of Business.

Updates and additions to this page

I will update this page from time to time and add additional books I found worthy of a recommendation. If you want to be informed about new additions to this page, please subscriber to my newsletter below.

If you have got a recommendation for a book, send me an email. Despite not reading many of programming books, I still love to get some outstanding recommendations.

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