Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Most influential books every programmer should read

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I came across the question "What is the single most influential book every programmer should read?" in Quora and i answered it with the name of not 1 but 6 books.

When i look back at the posts in this blog, i realized that the books mentioned in my Quora response and the authors have figured prominently in many posts.It is like a thread that runs through most of the posts in this blog. Now that is some influence. :-)

This is my quora response.

--Start of response--

Inluential is a very relative term and what influences a person also changes over a period of time. Listed below are six books that i consider quite influential in my career as a software developer and now a software program manager. I have also given brief reasons for the 'why'. And of course, i have these books in my library and refer to them time and again.

The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike - because programmers need to write code that is effective and productive

Code Complete by Steve McConnel -- Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction - because you need a guide to programming and this is the best.

The Mythical Man-month by Frederick Brooks - because this has timeless lessons from managing a very complex software project, that a programmer or some one who manages programmers shouldn't miss.


The Psychology of Computer Programming by Gerald Weinberg -- because this book is as relevant today as it was in 1971 and it started the talk on people oriented approach to programming.

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco -because this book teaches you that Projects are about people(always) and this book has many timeless lessons.


How To Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by George Polya- because you need to understand how to solve problems and this book teaches a systematic way to do that.

--End of response--

Below are the posts that were influenced by the above authors and their books

Reading Steve McConnel's books resulted in the posts Understanding Estimates, Plans, Targets and Commitments , Common mistakes in software estimation , Plan to do new mistakes and More mistakes to do .

Gerald Weinberg's book The Secrets of Consulting resulted in the post 'Orange Juice Test - Will you pass it?'

Reading Tom De Marco's books resulted in the posts Seven False Hopes of Software Management and Administrivia...

George Polya's book 'How to Solve it' resulted in the post On Problem Solving.

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