A Reading List for Software Engineers

IMPORTANT: This post is not in its final desired form, yet. The ratings (probably a finer granularity) and categories still need some work and a lot of descriptions are missing.

In this post I would like to assemble a list of resources that I found helpful for my work as a software engineer. Since my views slowly change over time, I will try to keep this post up to date and continuously add / remove / adapt the content. To make it easier to consume this reading list, I will put the different books into different categories, potentially having a book in multiple categories at the same time. I will also provide for each book one or more ratings out of the categories essential, useful, optional and classic.

As usual, a short disclaimer: Everything I present in this post (and in this blog in general) is my personal view and does not represent the view of my current employer, my former employers or any future employers.

Overview


Code Health

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
[Rating: essential]

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
[Rating: essential]

Working Effectively with Legacy Code
[Rating: essential]

Test Driven Development: By Example
[Rating: essential]

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
[Rating: essential]

Clean Architecture: A Craftsman’s Guide to Software Structure and Design
[Rating: essential]

The Art of Readable Code: Simple and Practical Techniques for Writing Better Code
[Rating: useful]

A Philosophy of Software Design
[Rating: useful]

Understanding Software: Max Kanat-Alexander on simplicity, coding, and how to suck less as a programmer
[Rating: essential]

Algorithms and Data Structures

Introduction to Algorithms
[Rating: essential]

This book is essential for building a solid foundation regarding algorithms, data structures and to some extent also computational complexity.

I first stumbled upon an earlier version of this book during my studies in computer science and really enjoyed reading it. The book itself is quite verbose, covers a large amount of topics and contains a lot of illustrations. Overall, it is a very good introductory book, as well as a valuable reference later on.

On top of that, the book can be very useful for interview preparation.

Algorithms
[Rating: useful]

Not quite as good as Introduction to Algorithms for my taste, but still a very good book.

The focus is more on practical aspects of algorithms, while Introduction to Algorithms covers the practical as well as the theoretical side. For this reason it might actually be the preferred choice for some engineers.

This book can also be very useful for interview preparation.

The Art of Computer Programming
[Rating: classic]

These books are definitely among the most famous books about computer programming of all time. Having started with this project in 1962, Donald Knuth published the first three volumes between 1968 and 1973. Volumes 4 and 5 were published in 2011 and 2015, respectively. Volume 6 is about to be published and volume 7 might conclude this compilation at some point in the future.

I personally bought volumes 1-4 at the beginning of 2017. So far I have just read very few parts. But since I added these books to my personal library my productivity miraculously increased by 2-3%.

Not an easy read, though.

Programming Languages

C++

Effective Modern C++: 42 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of C++11 and C++14
[Rating: essential]

Effective C++: 55 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs
[Rating: useful]

The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference
[Rating: useful]

Modern C++ Programming with Test-Driven Development: Code Better, Sleep Better
[Rating: useful]

Python

Fluent Python: Clear, Concise, and Effective Programming
[Rating: essential]

Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways to Write Better Python
[Rating: useful]

Java

Java: The Complete Reference
[Rating: useful]

Go

The Go Programming Language
[Rating: essential]

Tools

Practical Vim: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought
[Rating: essential]

The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction
[Rating: useful]

Docker Deep Dive
[Rating: useful]

Shell Scripting: How to Automate Command Line Tasks Using Bash Scripting and Shell Programming
[Rating: useful]

Pro Git
[Rating: useful]

Mercurial: The Definitive Guide
[Rating: useful]

Software Craftsmanship

Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
[Rating: useful]

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts
[Rating: useful]

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts
[Rating: useful]

The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development
[Rating: useful]

Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code by Jeff Atwood
[Rating: useful]

How to Stop Sucking and Be Awesome Instead
[Rating: useful]

A Programmer’s Rantings: On Programming-Language Religions, Code Philosophies, Google Work Culture, and Other Stuff
[Rating: useful]

Software Developer Life: Career, Learning, Coding, Daily Life, Stories
[Rating: useful]

The Pragmatic Programmer: your journey to mastery
[Rating: useful]

Processes

Clean Agile: Back to Basics
[Rating: useful]

The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers
[Rating: useful]

Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach
[Rating: useful]

Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration
[Rating: useful]

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
[Rating: useful]

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
[Rating: useful]

Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition
[Rating: useful]

Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior
[Rating: useful]

The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding (Pragmatic Programmers)
[Rating: useful]

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
[Rating: useful]

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
[Rating: useful]

Great at Work: The Hidden Habits of Top Performers
[Rating: useful]

Classics

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition
[Rating: classic]

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering
[Rating: classic]

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