Richard Hart

Head of Something @ Somewhere
Kent, UK

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Essential reading for developers

I’ve been meaning to write up a list of what books I think every developer, aspiring or seasoned should read. So let’s cut to the chase, and in no particular order:

Code Complete
If there was ever a bible for coding, this is it. It’s even Bible sized. A nice size to chuck at those annoying developers who just have no clue.

Clean Code
I would consider this book the “Ten Commandments” of coding and compliments Code Complete very very very well. If Code Complete teaches you how to be a Christian, then Clean Code teaches you how to be Jesus.

Refactoring to Patterns
What I love about this book is that it you learn the fundamentals of refactoring at the same time as design patterns. The GoF Design Patterns book is quite heavy going. The examples aren’t well laid out and can be confusing especially if you’re not familiar with SmallTalk The examples in refactoring to patterns all take pretty familiar real world bits of code and walk you through the process of refactoring them into sensible patterns.

Three books? Is that it? Yup. In my mind those are the only three books that are essential reading, no matter what form of development you do. If you even remotely care about coding, then go to Amazon now and buy these books. Read them and take a good long hard look at your own code. If on the other hand you feel “You can’t be bothered” to read, learn and improve, then why are you doing something you don’t love or care about? You’re in the wrong industry if you’re not prepared to take time, all the time, to learn new things. Once you’ve read those, then you’re ready to move onto more specialised books. Here are some of my other favourite development books from over the years:

The Productive Programmer
The Art of Agile Development
Practices of an Agile Developer
Joel on Software
Unix Power Tools
Programming Perl
Essential Java
Well Grounded Rubyist
Design Patterns in Ruby
CSS Mastery
Prioritizing Web Usability