10 Life-Changing Books Every Developer Should Read

Bernard Bado
April 17, 2022
10 Life-Changing Books Every Developer Should Read
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I got really pissed off during the conversation I had with one of my friends.

We were talking about my job as a web developer. And I could feel his attitude about my occupation. For some reason, he thinks that developers are somehow different from other people. 

Like we’re some kind of mystical creatures that has the ability to sit in front of a screen and type characters on their keyboards. Oh boy, he couldn’t be far away from the truth.

Programming is a skill set like any other. It can be learned by putting in the necessary hours. And it can be mastered by hours of regular practice.

There are many ways we can learn and improve. A lot of developers like to learn from video tutorials. And I can’t blame them, it’s an excellent learning resource. 

However, when it comes to learning and improving, there are also other players in town. And one of them is the subject of this article. It’s a plain old book.

In this article, I’ll share with you 10 books that changed the way I think, and they changed the way I work (as a programmer).

These are 10 books every programmer should read:

  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
  • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
  • Head First Design Patterns
  • Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions
  • The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Busines
  • Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer
  • Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
  • Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

10 Life-Changing Books For Developers

The Pragmatic Programmer

Pragmatic programmer book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

I heard a lot of negative reviews about this book. Mostly from so-called experienced developers. But in my opinion, they’re just being cocky and protective about their expertise.

This book is a great way to learn how to program efficiently and effectively. It covers important topics, such as understanding how to code for different audiences, being able to debug code, and how to optimize your code. 

In my opinion, this book is a must-read.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Code complete book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

Another great book that covers coding practices in general. It doesn’t focus on programming in a specific language, but it covers coding in general. It uses core programming concepts to show you how to become a better developer.

If your goal is to become a great software engineer, you have to read this book at least once.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean code book cover

Credits: Amazon 
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

Have you ever looked at a piece of code and went, “What the f*** is this?” It happened to me many times and I always thought to myself. They clearly didn’t read Clean Code. 

This book (as the title suggests) tells you how to write clean code. But it also shows how to approach software development, so you can write better code faster, and more effectively. 

Head First Design Patterns

Head First design patterns book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

An epic book to read if you want to learn about design patterns. It contains pictures, illustrations, doodles, and other eye-catching stuff to explain design patterns.

It shows how to implement design patterns in Java, but it also tells you why. On top of that, it shows real-world examples where design patterns can be used, and where used.

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Cracking the coding interview book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

I bet you heard about this book at least once. It’s the most popular book on this list, and it is for a reason. If your goal is to get hired as a software engineer, Cracking the Coding Interview will help you get there. 

The author of this book coached and interviewed hundreds of software engineers. And he put results in this book. The book tells you the most common interview questions, and how to solve them. And it also tells you how to get to the solution yourself.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Busines

The Phoenix Project book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

The first novel on this list. And let me say, it’s a good one!

Bill, an IT manager has been tasked with a project critical to the future of the company, code named Phoenix Project. The project is massively over budget, behind schedule, and requirements are very demanding. 

If Bill is not able to finish the project within 90 days, the entire department will be fired, and their work will be outsourced. 

I won’t tell you more, but you can get the whole story by reading the book.

Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer

Fire in the Valley book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

Another novel on the list, Fire in the Valley is about the history of a machine that made programming possible — the personal computer. 

In the 1970s, a group of college dropouts, hippies, and electronics fanatics were working on the idea of getting computer power into their own hands. From their garage, they launched a movement that grew into an industry, and ultimately into a technological revolution.

The book tells their story.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet

Where wizards stay up late book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

These days, we take the internet for granted. But it wasn’t like this before. 

Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the story of the people responsible for creating the most influential communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone. 

This book is the story of the invention of the Internet.

Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

Soft skills book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.3 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

This book is not about programming. But in my humble opinion, every programmer should read it.

Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manua is about the other aspects of a programmer’s life. It tells you how to manage and improve them. It’s about your life, career, and relationships, your body, your mind, and your soul.

The book gives you suggestions on how to improve every mentioned aspect of your life.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Atomic habits book cover

Credits: Amazon
  • ⭐ Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • 🔖 Book Link: Here

Another self-help book on the list. And again, it’s not related to programming. However, it can drastically improve your life as a programmer. It certainly improved mine.

Atomic Habits is a book about cultivating good habits and getting rid of bad ones. It gives you a framework you can follow and implement in your day-to-day life. And by doing so, you’ll become better at your craft.

Did I Miss Something?

Even in this day and age, I still believe books are a great resource to learn or to improve ourselves. Personally, I love reading books and I can say I learned a lot from reading them. And that’s exactly why I decided to share this list with you. 

I shared a list of the 10 most influential books I read. They changed the way I think. And they changed the way I live my life. But now, I’d like to hear from you.

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