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10 Books Every Programmer Should Read

There are many books available for programmers, ranging from topics such as programming languages, algorithms, design patterns, and many more. In this forest of books, it’s easy to get lost, so we created a small list of books which should be read by every programmer. Reading these books will help a great deal in becoming a better programmer!

The list below is an unordered list. You can pick any book you like, and some of the books don’t even cover a programming language at all, but just help you understand the world of programming. It doesn’t matter which book you’ll pick, any book is a step to enlightenment! ;-)

The Books

  • Coders at WorkLearn from other programmers in a book packed with interesting interviews. A really good starting point if you are curious about life as a programmer.
  • The Pragmatic ProgrammerVery informative, humorous and educational book, and gives a great deal of practical advise. This book will make you think instead of just following the rules.
  • Code Complete 2. While this book will keep you occupied for many days, nights and weekends with it’s 900 pages, every page it contains is packed with information on how to become a better programmer. 900 pages you won’t regret.
  • JavaScript: The Good Parts. Javascript is a complex language with lots of little gotchas. This book is aimed at programmers with an intermediate experience who wants to know the best way to use the language. With a little over 170 pages, this book is a great read, and there’s no shame in skipping the really complex topics!
  • Don’t Make Me Think RevisitedA commons sense approach to web and mobile design, with many interesting insight in colors, pageflows and professional web design, all in an easy to read cover. Opening this book will make you want to finish it non-stop!
  • Programming Pearls. In computer time, this book is an ancient one, but a good one. After reading this book, you’ll be a better coder, guaranteed!
  • Effective Java, Second EditionThis book is packed with tips on how to write better code, be it concurrency, serialization or other patterns to make your Java programs shine. Not a beginners book, but one for the programmer who has seen his share of code.
  • Clean Code. A book written with Java examples, but applicable to almost all programming languages. This book focusses a lot on style, commenting, and good program organisation and will guide you step by step into a becoming a master programmer!
  • Introduction to Algorithms. Not a programming book, but a book to read nonetheless. While the book is called ‘Introduction’, don’t underestimate it’s level because it will hurt your brain for sure!
  • Design PatternsAnother classic, which contains a huge collection of programming patterns. It’s a very dry book, and most people won’t be able to finish it, but if you even finish 10% of the book, it’s already a worthwhile exercise!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” — Charles William Eliot

  • Scharlatan

    Where is TAOCP?
    And programming in C by Kerninghan and Ritchie?
    What I basically want to say that it is very difficult to say whether “The Art of computer programming” or “Javascript: The good parts” is more worth reading .

    • Hi Scharlatan, good points, and great books! But it’s only a list of 10 books, and I had to make choices somewhere. Maybe I’ll create a new list in the future, with another 10 books, and I’ll be sure to include those too (though I haven’t read TAOCP yet. I’ll add it to my reading list! ;-)

  • JimBob

    Mythical Man Month

  • Some books from my shelve which could have made it to this list:
    Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving by V. Anton Spraul
    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP!) by Abelson, Sussman and Sussman
    The Little Schemer (and the rest of this series) by Daniel P. Friedman

    • Thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely take a look at them :)

  • Bart de Boer

    Actually, in my opions Robert Martin’s “The Clean Coder” is even more important for everyone to read than Clean Code. Also, Joy of Coding definitely should be on this list.

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