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Impactful Books

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A local developer Slack had an icebreaker post asking for programming books that impacted your career. I figured I’d share mine in a more long-lived format. Some are more timeless than others.

Web Development and Programming

  • Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman – I recall reading this in 2003 when I was just out of college and starting to invest full-time in my web development career. This book brought order to the chaos of the web design patterns of the time.
  • Unit Testing: Principles, Practices, and Patterns by Vladimir Khorikov – This was a powerful book that helped me solidify my perspective of testing, what I want out of it, and how to accomplish those wants.
  • Elixir in Action by Saša Jurić – While it was not my first Elixir book, it was by far the one that sold me on the language and run time. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. The new third edition just came out. I can’t wait to reread it.
  • Thinking In Systems by Donella H. Meadows – This is not a programming book, but good exploration of perspectives you should keep in mind when building things.
  • Cocoa Programming for OS X: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide by Aaron Hillegass – While I earned a living building web applications using PHP and Rails, outside of work, I was (as a hobby) learning how to create GUI apps on Mac OS X. This book was a life-changing experience for me. First, giving me a space to learn Cocoa, which eventually became my full-time work, but then secondly, when I joined Big Nerd Ranch to become a teacher myself.
  • Clean Code by Robert C. Martin – This book gets some shade these days, but I recall it being one of the first books that started to get me to question the ascetics of my code and I think highly of that event.

User Interfaces

  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug – I loved how approachable and immediately actionable this book was for my early work.
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman – This book forever changed how I look at doors.
  • The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin P. Williams – Wonderful introduction to core design concepts.
  • Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan – Great focused review of common presentation patterns.

Product Development

  • The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick – Will help ensure you know how to ask questions and get feedback. TL;DR: Everyone is lying to you.
  • The Nature of Software Development by Ron Jeffries – This is not a product development methodology but a great collection of values by which to organize your processes.
  • Just Fucking Ship by Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman – Sharp, focused advice on how to work backward and get that project shipped.
  • Shape Up by Ryan Singer – Curiously enough, I’ve joined multiple teams that tried Shape Up, and it did not take just before my joining. Personally, I do think there are some good aspects to shape up, like pitch writing and UI breadboarding. If I had sovereignty over a team project, I’d like to get more experience with this style.

Honorable Mention

  • The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky – Writing this list, I can not recall specific essays, but I have vivid memories of enjoying this collection. It represents to me a golden age of technical blogging. I miss those days. Maybe it is time for a re-read?

Is there something I missed? Let me know your favorites.