Stack OverflowWhat is the single most influential book every programmer should read?
[+1440] [214] NotMyself
[2008-08-04 23:50:22]
[ resources ]
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If you could go back in time and tell yourself to read a specific book at the beginning of your career as a developer, which book would it be?

I expect this list to be varied and to cover a wide range of things.

To search: Use the search box in the upper-right corner. To search the answers of the current question, use inquestion:this. For example:

inquestion:this "Code Complete"
Is "Joel on Software" too obvious? For C++, anything by Herb Sutter, Scott Meyers. An if you are into template masochism, "Modern C++ Design" by Alexandrescu. - KeithB
(8) Browsing this thread make me realize how ugly most programming related books are. Very good thread though! - Carl Bergquist
(23) Interesting this is, while the title reads "What is the single most influential book every programmer should read?", there are quite a few books suggested that deal with language specific topics. By definition, and by question as it was put, the books suggested here should deal with language agnostic topics, which proves most programmers have yet to learn how to read. - Rook
(19) If I could go back in time and tell myself to read something, it better be a newspaper or sports fact book that I carried with me. Anything else is a waste of good time travel. :-) - jmucchiello
The cover of "Head First" is eye catching for sure, and did succeed in getting me to pick up the book. But I put it down again soon after as it seemed light on content. - Peter Recore
(2) This question has now turned into the equivalent of a library of journals containing book titles. It's far too generic but the worst part is it's impossible to search - Chris S
I agree that the inability to search for something within the answers is pretty frustrating. One needs to page through 10 pages of posts just to see whether one can contribute something new. - drozzy
(32) You know, if I wasn't worried about getting down voted a WHOLE lot I would trollishly go and suggest Twilight. "Its ALSO about people who are pale and avoid the sun!" - Jacob Bellamy
@Carl: THIS is one of the prettiest programming-related books I have on my shelf:‌​/… - mipadi
(3) Can someone cleanup answers by deleting repeated entries on books? Most of them area already down voted. - rao
(2) It has been suggested, and I'm inclined to agree, that at 20 pages this has run its course for the current time. Just duplicates. I'm locking for now; flag if you disagree... - Marc Gravell
(2) I have voted to close. This question is subjective, argumentative, and the answer accepted is lol-wrong. A Microsoft Press book about how M$ does things more important than even Don Knuth's Art of Computer Programming? I have to change my pants. - Heath Hunnicutt
@Heath, this has been discussed to death on Meta. This is one of those questions that everyone knows is inappropriate but gets grandfathered in because it was so popular when the site started. More practically, at this point, it's unlikely that you're going to find four other people to vote to close before your vote expires. - Pops
(1) @Heath, have you read CC? I'm anti-Microsoft generally, but I found it very useful. It's good to read it as well as The Pragmatic Programmer, because the two offer nicely contrasting views. Luckily this question has these two books right at the top. You shouldn't close a question just because you don't agree with the top-voted answer. - Skilldrick
(1) @skilldrick. Not only have a I read McConnell, I formerly worked at MS, where you are required to lick the book. McConnell was jealous of Steve Maguire, the author of Writing Solid Code, also MS press. The Maguire book is good and not so many pages. The McConnell book, meh, you can tell what I think, but to articulate: "Full of preachy crap that doesn't work for everyone and becomes dated even as IDEs change." Writing Solid Code has not become dated. - Heath Hunnicutt
@Torgamus -- TRADITION! It's what keeps us on the roof!!! TRADITION! - Heath Hunnicutt
@Heath: This ancient, sprawling, and grandfathered question has been locked by a diamond mod. There is no need to close, since that only stops new (and doubtless redundant) answers from being added. - David Thornley
Perfection. Now the corpus of already-answered SO questions, available for reference to newcomers, lacks this subjective question. - Heath Hunnicutt
(1) @David: This isn't locked anymore. It's simply protected, which isn't really enough to stop more needless answers from being posted. It needs to be locked again. - gnovice
@gnovice: Thanks, I missed that. - David Thornley
@Heath, congrats on succeeding, even though it was only for a few hours. FYI I found the related blog post:‌​fun - Pops
@Torgamus -- It appears the cabal of admins doesn't like democracy. SO so lame. - Heath Hunnicutt
@Heath - I agree, it is lame. @Torgamus - I don't like 'fun' questions. They usually end up with stupid, meaningless answers that are more based on popularity than anything else. I've read most of the books on the first page, and I only think about 40% of them are particularly worthwhile for everybody, and definitely not the first on the list. - Omnifarious
@Torgamus -- It isn't about having fun. It's about not being stupid. This question, and its answer, are 110% stupid. - Heath Hunnicutt
@Omnifarious: How is pragmatic programmer not useful? It's going to overtake Code Complete like it rightfully should. Actually now I look beyond the first few I see you are right. - Matt Joiner
@Matt Joiner: The Pragmatic Programmer is one of the few I haven't read. :-) - Omnifarious
@Omnifarious: You REALLY should. - Skilldrick
(1) As for the rollbacks, please see Regarding a CW question and author-specific info. - Arjan
Rollback war means time to lock again. - Michael Myers
[+1749] [2008-08-04 23:51:07] Justin Standard
  • Code Complete (2nd edition) by Steve McConnell
  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie
  • Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest & Stein
  • Design Patterns by the Gang of Four
  • Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
  • The Mythical Man Month
  • The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth
  • Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools by Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi and Jeffrey D. Ullman
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
  • Effective C++
  • More Effective C++
  • CODE by Charles Petzold
  • Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael C. Feathers
  • Peopleware by Demarco and Lister
  • Coders at Work by Peter Seibel
  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
  • Effective Java 2nd edition
  • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler
  • The Little Schemer
  • The Seasoned Schemer
  • Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby
  • The Inmates Are Running The Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
  • The Art of Unix Programming
  • Test-Driven Development: By Example by Kent Beck
  • Practices of an Agile Developer
  • Don't Make Me Think
  • Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices by Robert C. Martin
  • Domain Driven Designs by Eric Evans
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
  • Modern C++ Design by Andrei Alexandrescu
  • Best Software Writing I by Joel Spolsky
  • The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike
  • Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andy Hunt
  • Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art by Steve McConnel
  • The Passionate Programmer (My Job Went To India) by Chad Fowler
  • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
  • Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs
  • Writing Solid Code
  • JavaScript - The Good Parts
  • Getting Real by 37 Signals
  • Foundations of Programming by Karl Seguin
  • Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice in C (2nd Edition)
  • Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel
  • The Elements of Computing Systems
  • Refactoring to Patterns by Joshua Kerievsky
  • Modern Operating Systems by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
  • The Annotated Turing
  • Things That Make Us Smart by Donald Norman
  • The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
  • The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management by Tom DeMarco
  • The C++ Programming Language (3rd edition) by Stroustrup
  • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture
  • Computer Systems - A Programmer's Perspective
  • Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# by Robert C. Martin
  • Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests
  • Framework Design Guidelines by Brad Abrams
  • Object Thinking by Dr. David West
  • Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment by W. Richard Stevens
  • Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
  • CLR via C# by Jeffrey Richter
  • The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
  • Design Patterns in C# by Steve Metsker
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  • About Face - The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky
  • The Tao of Programming
  • Computational Beauty of Nature
  • Writing Solid Code by Steve Maguire
  • Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing
  • Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications by Grady Booch
  • Effective Java by Joshua Bloch
  • Computability by N. J. Cutland
  • Masterminds of Programming
  • The Tao Te Ching
  • The Productive Programmer
  • The Art of Deception by Kevin Mitnick
  • The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World by Christopher Duncan
  • Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case studies in Common Lisp
  • Masters of Doom
  • Pragmatic Unit Testing in C# with NUnit by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas with Matt Hargett
  • How To Solve It by George Polya
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Smalltalk-80: The Language and its Implementation
  • Writing Secure Code (2nd Edition) by Michael Howard
  • Introduction to Functional Programming by Philip Wadler and Richard Bird
  • No Bugs! by David Thielen
  • Rework by Jason Freid and DHH
  • JUnit in Action

(5) We used to call Code Complete the "Bible" at one development shop. "Hey, you need to refer to the bible, the naming of your methods are terrible." - Haacked
(1) I was very impressed with Code Complete, I think that it's a must for every programmer. If I have one book to recommend, it's this book. - Patrick Parent
(9) I wouldn't go so far as labeling Code Complete the most influential that every programmer should read. It is certainly worth reading, but I don't think it deserves the religious following... - Tim
(10) I was deeply unimpressed by Code Complete. I hate to use an over-used PGism, but it's mired in Blub. So much of the book was irrelevant to me. - Rich
(7) I read Code Complete (first edition) about 15 years into my career. It was the first book I'd read about why code should be written a certain way. I don't know if I would have appreciated it as much if I'd read it earlier in my career, before personally experiencing some of the problems discussed. - JeffK
(16) Code Complete is a nice book if you are in college maybe. If you have at least 1 year of programming experience, it is a total bore. - Bogdan Gavril
(19) Code Complete has a lot of useful information in it but it's buried in hyperbole, waffle, and repetition, which makes it a hard read. - Jeff Yates
(7) @Bogdan - I totally disagree. While it's useful for beginners, much of the advice is hard to appreciate without a few years experience. For beginners, please note you need a basic foundation in OO programming to follow many chapters. The text generally assumes you're an OO programmer. - Cory House
(76) I read Code Complete 3 years into my career. I hadn't taken a software engineering course nor a programming language constructs course but had taken some intro CS courses. It is by far the best single book I've ever read for becoming a better programmer. It won't make you a specialist but it will make you much more than a tinkerer. - Arnshea C
(5) Its not for beginners. Most of the things said there and effects of them can be fully understood only by experienced programers, IMO. You need to have dozen of frameworks designed in order to fully appriciate this enciclopedia of good practices. I do agree however that book is somewhat borring and repetitive, but that doesn't have anything to do with insights it presents. Its pedagogical thingy... - majkinetor
(119) The problem with this book is that for a beginner, it doesn't really make sense as the concepts are a little advanced. By the time you are ready to be able to read it, you should already know and practice 99% of the concepts in the book. - esac
(2) I read it during my last year of CS studies, thats the perfect time to read it, most topics are covered during the studies, but its a nice recap, and well written with a lot of references to dive deeper if you want to. Chapter 5 about design is freely available on the site, try it, for me it was one of the most fun chapters - Emile Vrijdags
(57) That's the deal with common sense suggestions, like those found in this book. Every so often you need to be reminded of them to fall back in line. - JohnFx
(12) Code Complete is fundamentally about software construction. Comp sci programs are not. The book fills in the gaps at a critical point, right out of school. - Joe Zoller
(3) I don't think this book is only for beginners. There is always something that you understand differently when reading as a senior and if not, it's always nice to have a confirmation that you do know all the "basics". - jimmystormig
(4) This book should be part of every programmers reference. I would make this required reading for a degree in CS! - Michael Brown
(8) For all the nay-sayers ... Code Complete opened my eyes to the fact that I should be programming not just for myself, but so when other people came after me, they could easily read my code. Readability, pseudo-code design, methods should only have a single purpose, basically all the BASICS of what a good programmer should do. HENCE, I would read this at the beginning of my career (about 1 - 2 years earlier than I did). - Martin
(4) There is a big difference between ed 1 and 2. The first one was about defensive code in detail, the 2nd ed seems to be just an arguement for 'Big Design Up Front' - Martin Beckett
(2) Most computer books are either very narrowly focused, or they are written by pitchmen touting the panacea of the month, complete with a guide to 'getting certified'. This book can take someone who knows programming and teach him or her practical techniques that teach how to write actual finished applications in the real world. - Jim In Texas
(6) Some comments state that programmers with more than a year of experience should know and practice the concepts in Code Complete. I agree, they really should, but that doesn't mean they actually know and practice them. Reading the book improves the odds that it really happens. It's also not necessary to read all of it as you can read the key points and checklists, and read more on the points you didn't understand or agree with. I especially enjoy using it as a quick reference for things like checking a list of solutions to deep control structures. - Heikki Naski
(5) Code Complete is highly overrated. It is basically redundant for someone who's done professional programming for a few years. Also, it could probably be cut in half if it weren't for all the repetitions and fillers. - shoosh
(9) @chaiguy One reason for recommending this book is the excellent reviews from world-famous programmers. People like Martin Fowler, Grady Booch, Jeffrey Richter, Mike Gunderloy, John Vlissides (coauthor of Design Patterns), Jon Bentley, Joel Spolksy, Software Development Magazine, IEEE Micro Magazine, Windows Tech Journal, IEEE Computer Magazine... I agree if you are an expert already with years of experience, you may not get much from it. But that's not the point of this question. - MarkJ
(2) Bought Code Complete on the back of this recommendation. And I am extremely impressed. Steve McConnell has an excellent way of explaining things- patiently, accurately and making good use of helpful analogies. Maybe some would find this book to be too simple and lacking in depth (as some have already said on here). But for mere mortals like myself, it has proven an invaluable resource. - Urbycoz
[+9] [2008-08-21 19:58:25] Jason Bunting

K&R [1]

@Juan: I know Juan, I know - but there are some things that can only be learned by actually getting down to the task at hand. Speaking in abstract ideals all day simply makes you into an academic. It's in the application of the abstract that we truly grok the reason for their existence. :P

@Keith: Great mention of "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper - an eye opener for certain, any developer that has worked with me since I read that book has heard me mention the ideas it espouses. +1


[+9] [2008-09-16 13:51:00] Michiel Borkent

Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming [1]: Case Studies in Common Lisp by Peter Norvig

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I started reading it because I wanted to learn Common Lisp. When I was halfway, I realized this was the greatest book about programming I had read so far.


[+9] [2008-10-14 12:04:58] Tarski

Discrete Mathematics For Computer Scientists,204,203,200_AA219_PIsitb-sticker-dp-arrow,TopRight,-24,-23_SH20_OU02_.jpg [1]

Discrete Mathematics For Computer Scientists [2] by J.K. Truss.

While this doesn't teach you programming, it teaches you fundamental mathematics that every programmer should know. You may remember this stuff from university, but really, doing predicate logic will improve you programming skills, you need to learn Set Theory if you want to program using collections.

There really is a lot of interesting information in here that can get you thinking about problems in different ways. It's handy to have, just to pick up once in a while to learn something new.


[+9] [2008-11-19 05:57:39] Nicholas Piasecki

Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail [1]. Get it used cheap. But you might not get the humor until you've worked on a few failed projects.

The beauty of the book is the copyright year.

Probably the most profound takeaway "law" presented in the book:

The Fundamental Failure-Mode Theorem (F.F.T.): Complex systems usually operate in failure mode.

The idea being that there are failing parts in any given piece of software that are masked by failures in other parts or by validations in other parts. See a real-world example at the Therac-25 radiation machine [2], whose software flaws were masked by hardware failsafes. When the hardware failsafes were removed, the software race condition that had gone undetected all those years resulted in the machine killing 3 people.


(1) Also check out The Systems Bible by the same author (John Gall). It's the third edition of Systemantics, he just changed the title. This is the book you'd steal from school. It's the book that grown adults read under a blanket with a flashlight. - C. Lawrence Wenham
[+9] [2008-12-16 12:43:14] dario minonne

Definitively Software Craftsmanship

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This book explains a lot of things about software engineering, system development. It's also extremly useful to understand the difference between different kind of product developement: web VS shrinkwrap VS IBM framework. What people had in mind when they conceived waterfall model? Read this and all we'll become clear (hopefully)


This book needs to be rewritten from scratch. The subject is very interesting but the book is quite insane. - Chris Mountford
Chris, I've hard time to understand your comment... Can you explain more? Why 'insane'? - dario minonne
Firstly it's full of typographical errors. The usually top-notch editorial hand of Addison Wesley is strangely absent in this volume. - Chris Mountford
... continuing, and not enough space here, but: 2. it's never clear in the text where the author switches between fact and opinion, anecdote and fundamental principle etc. 3. software craftsmanship is a metaphor and a strategy for dealing with several difficult aspects of software development. It has specific advantages over alternatives and presumably disadvantages. I believe that's the sane approach. It's meaningless to say that software is inherently a craft. Very annoying read, but to be fair it was a while ago and many specifics I've forgotten. My disgust remains, however. - Chris Mountford
[+9] [2009-06-07 17:38:52] tr9sh

One of my personal favorites is Hacker's Delight [1], because it was as much fun to read as it was educational.

I hope the second edition will be released soon!


+1 for "Hacker's Delight" by Henry S. Warren Jr - it's not about hacking in the popular sense but hacking as in low level bit twiddling and other "hacks" in the true and original sense of the word. Not for everyone, but if you are involved in code optimisation, compilers, etc, or are just a general nerd who is interested in low level stuff then this is a great book. - Paul R
[+9] [2009-06-28 17:55:18] amit

Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming. [1]

alt text [2]


Brillant, the book cover shows "La Sagrada Família", a large Roman Catholic basilica under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. To be completed in 2026 (only 17yrs left). Like most programs, even with the best books, they never finished ... - PeterMmm
[+9] [2009-09-18 03:34:36] TrueWill

Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change [1] by Kent Beck. While I don't advocate a hardcore XP-or-the-highway take on software development, I wish I had been introduced to the principles in this book much earlier in my career. Unit testing, refactoring, simplicity, continuous integration, cost/time/quality/scope - these changed the way I looked at development. Before Agile, it was all about the debugger and fear of change requests. After Agile, those demons did not loom as large.


[+9] [2009-09-18 13:24:32] RD1

The practice of programming. By Brian W. Kernighan, Rob Pike.

The style shown here is excellent - the code just speaks for itself, and the whole book follows the KISS principle. Personally not my languages of choice, but still influential to me.

(1) -1 Duplicate of… - Ruben Bartelink
[+9] [2010-05-26 12:01:43] Dave Clarke

Types and Programming Languages [1] by Benjamin C Pierce for a thorough understanding of the underpinnings of programming languages.


[+9] [2010-08-05 15:26:40] shawndumas
[+9] [2010-11-18 19:27:10] Ryan Berger

Database System Concepts [1] is one of the best books you can read on understanding good database design principles.

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[+9] [2010-11-23 03:15:27] ladookie

Programming from the ground up. [1] It's free on the internet. This book taught me AT&T asm. It is very easy to read.

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[+8] [2008-08-05 01:25:46] nlucaroni

@Peter Coulton -- you don't read Knuth, you study it.

For me, and my work... Purely Functional Data Structures is great for thinking and developing with functional languages in mind.

[+8] [2008-09-16 03:25:30] Larry OBrien

"The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman.

Excellence in programming demands an investment of mental energy and a dedication to continued learning comparable to the professions of medicine or law. It pays a fraction of what those professions pay, much less the wages paid to the mathematically savvy who head into the finance sector. And wages for constructing code are eroding because it's a profession that is relatively easy for the intelligent and self-disciplined in most economies to enter.

Programming has already eroded to the point of paying less than, say, plumbing. Plumbing can't be "offshored." You don't need to pay $2395 to attend the Professional Plumber's Conference every other year for the privilege of receiving an entirely new set of plumbing technologies that will take you a year to learn.

If you live in North America or Europe, are young, and are smart, programming is not a rational career choice. Businesses that involve programming, absolutely. Study business, know enough about programming to refine your BS detector: brilliant. But dedicating the lion's share of your mental energy to the mastery of libraries, data structures, and algorithms? That only makes sense if programming is something more to you than an economic choice.

If you love programming and for that reason intend to make it your career, then it behooves you to develop a cold-eyed understanding of the forces that are, and will continue, to make it a harder and harder profession in which to make a living. "The World is Flat" won't teach you what to name your variables, but it will immerse you for 6 or 8 hours in economic realities that have already arrived. If you can read it, and not get scared, then go out and buy "Code Complete."

That's one heck of a good answer! - Avi
[+8] [2009-07-23 01:24:27] TahoeWolverine

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This last year I took a number of classes. I read

The Innovator's Dilemma (disruptive tech) [1]
The Mythical Man Month (managing software) [2]
Crossing the Chasm (startup) [3]
Database Management Systems, The COW Book [4]
Programming C#, The OSTRICH Book [5]
Beginning iPhone Developmen, The GRAPEFRUIT Book [6]

Each book was amazing but the Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (1997!!!) is really a fantastic book, and it got me really thinking about the modern software world. The challenge addressed is disruptive technology, and how disk drive companies and non-technical companies are always disrupted by new, game changing technology. It gives one a new perspective when thinking about Google, probably the biggest 'web' company. Why do they have their hands in EVERYTHING? It's because they don't want to have their position disrupted by something new. The preview on google is plenty to get the idea. Read it!


I think this book is quite repetitive. I recommend reading the first 1/4. - Ben Haley
[+8] [2009-11-26 20:04:24] tsilb

hackers, by Steven Levy.

The personality and way of life must come first. Everything else can be learned.

[+8] [2009-12-27 23:36:49] Derrick

The New Turing Omnibus,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg [1]

Really good book. Has a high-level taste of the most important areas of computer science. Yes, CS != programming, but this is still useful to every programmer.


[+8] [2010-03-02 11:44:38] Aseem

Object Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications by Brady Booch [1]


[+8] [2010-07-27 17:27:23] agupta666

The Practice of Programming

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How to solve it by computer

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[+8] [2010-10-24 15:01:53] Matthew J Morrison

The Python language was very influential to me, I wish I would have read these book years ago. The beauty and simplicity of the Python language really affected how I wrote code in other languages.

alt text alt text

(2) I think starting new programmers with Python would reduce the amount of ugly code in the world. I work with someone who randomly indents lines - that person wouldn't do that if they had worked with Python for a few months. - xnine
(6) I think starting new programmers with Python would reduce the amount of other languages. - Marco Mariani
(2) Are those covers a coincidence? - Kelly S. French
[+7] [2008-08-21 20:02:07] Loren Charnley

The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks

[+7] [2008-08-27 01:42:43] lurks

I think that "The Art of Unix Programming" is an excellent book, by an excellent hacker/brilliant mind as Eric S. Raymond, who tries to make us understand a few principles of software design (simplicity mainly). This book is a must for every programming who is about to start a project under Unix platform.

(6) this is a duplicate. - Christopher Mahan
[+7] [2008-08-28 23:47:12] joel.neely

While I agree that many of the books above are must-reads (Pragmatic Programmer, Mythical Man-Month, Art of Computer Programming, and SICP come to mind immediately), I'd like to go in a slightly different direction and recommend A Discipline of Programming [1] by Edsger Dijkstra. Even though it's 32 years old, the emphasis on "design for verifiability" is highly relevant (even if "verifiability" means "proof" instead "unit tests").


[+7] [2008-09-13 15:53:00] mattruma

Code Craft [1] by Pete Goodliffe is a good read!

Code Craft,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20_.jpg [2]


I had high hopes for this book, but it doesn't do it for me. I think it stating the obvious. It's probably good for those new to programming. - projecktzero
[+7] [2008-09-17 07:55:51] icelava

Martin Fowler's Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code [1] has already been listed. But I will detail why it has impacted me.

The essence of the whole book is about structuring code so that it is simpler to read and understand by humans. It teaches me strongly that the code that I write is meant for my colleagues and successors to consume and possibly learn something good out of it. It inspires me to consciously program in a manner that leaves people praising my name, and not cursing me to damnation for all eternity [2].


[+7] [2008-09-23 05:48:04] Krirk

alt text [1]

C++ How to Program [2] It is good for beginner.This is excellent book that full complete with 1500 pages.


I totally agree. Deitel's approach in learning a programming language is amazing. I consider Java How to Program as my programming bible! - H-H
[+7] [2008-10-26 18:15:46] Jasper Bekkers

Masters of doom. [1] As far as motivation and love for your profession go: it won't get any better than what's been described in this book, truthfully inspiring story!


+1 for the accurate one line review - rubayeet
[+7] [2009-03-20 02:45:42] Charlie Flowers

Here's an excellent book that is not as widely applauded, but is full of deep insight: Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game [1], by Alistair Cockburn.

What's so special about it? Well, clearly everyone has heard the term "Agile", and it seems most are believers these days. Whether you believe or not, though, there are some deep principles behind why the Agile movement exists. This book uncovers and articulates these principles in a precise, scientific way. Some of the principles are (btw, these are my words, not Alistair's):

  1. The hardest thing about team software development is getting everyone's brains to have the same understanding. We are building huge, elaborate, complex systems which are invisible in the tangible world. The better you are at getting more peoples' brains to share deeper understanding, the more effective your team will be at software development. This is the underlying reason that pair programming makes sense. Most people dismiss it (and I did too initially), but with this principle in mind I highly recommend that you give it another shot. You wind up with TWO people who deeply understand the subsystem you just built ... there aren't many other ways to get such a deep information transfer so quickly. It is like a Vulcan mind meld.
  2. You don't always need words to communicate deep understanding quickly. And a corollary: too many words, and you exceed the listener/reader's capacity, meaning the understanding transfer you're attempting does not happen. Consider that children learn how to speak language by being "immersed" and "absorbing". Not just language either ... he gives the example of some kids playing with trains on the floor. Along comes another kid who has never even SEEN a train before ... but by watching the other kids, he picks up the gist of the game and plays right along. This happens all the time between humans. This along with the corollary about too many words helps you see how misguided it was in the old "waterfall" days to try to write 700 page detailed requirements specifications.

There is so much more in there too. I'll shut up now, but I HIGHLY recommend this book!


(2) A unique contribution, and you took the time to clearly explain why it was worth reading. +1 for originality and effort! I shall look forward to reading this soon... - Avery Payne
Good. I do not think you will be disappointed. - Charlie Flowers
[+7] [2009-06-03 20:01:04] mike

Kernighan & Plauger's Elements of Programming Style [1]. It illustrates the difference between gimmicky-clever and elegant-clever.


[+7] [2011-01-14 09:13:25] JW.

The TCP/IP Guide [1], by Charles M. Kozierok

Although it is described as an 'encyclopedic reference', it is incredibly readable as a narrative.

This author provides a very , very, very well written, comprehensive, introduction to networking and the infrastructure that underlies the web. Something all programmers ought to know.

For me it is the natural follow-on from Charles Petzold's ' Code [2]'. If "Code" explains to the layman how computers work, 'The TCP/IP Guide' explains how they connect together.

If you gave a 12 year old geek a copy 'Code' and a copy of 'The TCP/IP Guide' - they'd be building the next Google by the age of 17.

In other words, if I could go back in time and tell myself to read a specific book at the beginning of my career as a developer, this (plus Code) is up there in the top of my list.


[+6] [2008-08-11 23:52:03] bruceatk

I've been arounda while, so most books that I have found influential don't necessarily apply today. I do believe it is universally important to understand the platform that you are developing for (both hardware and OS). I also think it's important to learn from other peoples mistakes. So two books I would recommend are:

Computing Calamities [1] and In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters [2]


(3) Give me a break. Why in the world would you mark this down because I mentioned two books? - bruceatk
[+6] [2008-08-21 19:54:14] Nate Smith

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master [1] without a doubt. The advice in it is so well presented, and simple, that it comes across as if it was 'The Common Sense Programmer'. Love it.


[+6] [2008-08-21 20:02:28] Kibbee

Mastering Regular Expressions [1]


[+6] [2008-08-21 21:19:08] Eric Pohl

In no particular order except how they're arranged on my bookshelf:

  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • Rafactoring by Fowler
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Feathers. This is practically a companion volume to Refactoring.
  • UML Distilled by Fowler. Among its other virtues is brevity.
  • Debugging the Development Process by Steve Maguire
  • Design Patterns (aka "Gang of Four") by Gamma et al

[+6] [2008-08-28 00:41:34] Paul Tomblin

Mr. Bunny's Guide To ActiveX

[+6] [2008-08-28 19:13:28] Onorio Catenacci

I have a few good books that strongly influenced me that I've not seen on this list so far:

The Psychology of Everyday Things [1] by Donald Norman. The general principles of design for other people. This may seem to be mostly good for UI but if you think about it, it has applications almost anywhere there is an interface that someone besides the original developer has to work with; e. g. an API and designing the interface in such a way that other developers form the correct mental model and get appropriate feedback from the API itself.

The Art of Software Testing [2] by Glen Myers. A good, general introduction to testing software; good for programmers to read to help them think like a tester i. e. think of what may go wrong and prepare for it.

By the way, I realize the question was the "Single Most Influential Book" but the discussion seems to have changed to listing good books for developers to read so I hope I can be forgiven for listing two good books rather than just one.


-1: one book per answer please. - Ether
[+6] [2008-09-11 03:15:35] Garth Kidd

Do users ever touch your code? If you're not doing solely back-end work, I recommend About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design [1] — now in its third edition (linked). I used to think my users were stupid because they didn't "get" my interfaces. I was, of course, wrong. About Face turned me around.


-1: Good book, but Duplicate, see earlier - Ruben Bartelink
-1: dup, and Cooper's "Inmates" is a better start for the subject - toolbear
[+6] [2008-09-16 14:55:24] MattH

Rapid Development [1] by McConnell


(1) -1 Good book, but dup of… (even if it rambles, it has critical mass) - Ruben Bartelink
+1 At least this one has a link. - WCWedin
It may be a dup, but the other answer lists two books when the question is "single most". That's cheating. In addition, the other answer is a dup itself. Finally, mine has a link. :-) - MattH
[+6] [2008-12-02 18:02:19] Adrian

As I started out developing in Java (and am still doing so to this very day) I'd have to recommend the outstanding work in the field: Mr Bunny's Big Cup o' Java [1].

From the author's blurb:

There is simply no better way to learn Java than to have the pineal gland of an expert Java programmer surgically implanted in your brain. Sadly, most HMOs refuse to pay for this career saving procedure, deeming Java to be too experimental. At last there is an alternative treatment for those of us who cannot wait for sweeping health care reforms.

Mr. Bunny’s Big Cup O’ Java is recommended by n out of ten doctors, where n is any integer you wish to make up to impress an astoundingly gullible public. The book begins with an overview of the book, and quickly expands into the book itself. Just look at the topics covered:

  • Java

In short, MBBCOJ will teach you all you need to know for a successful career in today’s rabbit development environments.

The insight into pixels alone would have cut years off my software developing life.


[+6] [2009-11-08 08:26:33] Steven Bose

"The Practice of programming" by Brian W.Kerninghan & Rob Pike.

The language is easy and also the subject matter is interesting.

Surely this is a duplicate? - Ruben Bartelink
[+6] [2010-07-28 16:10:48] xport

alt text,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg [1]

alt text [2]


[+5] [2008-08-21 20:08:21] Mark Biek

Refactoring [1]


[+5] [2008-09-01 08:14:50] christefano

There are a lot of votes for Steve McConnell's Code Complete, but what about his Software Project Survival Guide [1] book? I think they're both required reading but for different reasons.


Can you add a pic - right now it scans as if its yet another parroting of the CC recommends that this entire thread seems to be abotut - Ruben Bartelink
[+5] [2008-09-10 15:07:58] Kilhoffer

This one isnt really a book for the beginning programmer, but if you're looking for SOA design books, then SOA in Practice: The Art of Distributed System Design [1] is for you.


(2) Too narrow to be the 1 book every programmer should read - toolbear
[+5] [2008-09-15 18:25:04] Bryan Oakley

Software Tools by by Brian W. Kernighan and P. J. Plauger

It had a profound influence on how I write software.

[+5] [2008-10-08 16:38:38] afternoon

Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass [1]

Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass [2] is a really excellent book. I had been a professional hacker for almost 10 years before I read it, and a I still learned a ton of stuff.


-1: Dup of higher voted - Ruben Bartelink
[+5] [2009-01-22 22:41:11] Pete Kirkham

Not the most influential, but worth a look is Youth [1] by J.M.Coetzee.

The narrator of Youth, a student in the South Africa of the 1950s, has long been plotting an escape from his native country: from the stifling love of his mother, from a father whose failures haunt him, and from what he is sure is impending revolution. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he tries to ensure that when he arrives in the real world, wherever that may be, he will be prepared to experience life to its full intensity, and transform it into art. Arriving at last in London, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance. Instead he succumbs to the monotony of life as a computer programmer, from which random, loveless affairs offer no relief. Devoid of inspiration, he stops writing. An awkward colonial, a constitutional outsider, he begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting.

youth cover [2]


[+5] [2009-08-18 10:20:42] Ryan Fernandes

Perfect Software: And Other Illusions about Testing [1]

TITLE Cover [2]

Perfect Software: And Other Illusions about Testing by Gerald M. Weinberg

ISBN-10: 0932633692

ISBN-13: 978-0932633699


[+5] [2010-05-26 12:06:05] Dave Clarke

Design Concepts in Programming Languages [1] by FA Turbak produces detailed implementations of many programming concepts and is very useful for understanding what's going on underneath the hood.


[+5] [2010-08-09 22:18:58] George Marian

The Back of the Napkin [1], by Dan Roam [2].

The Back of the Napkin [3]

A great book about visual thinking techniques. There is also an expanded [4] edition now. I can't speak to that version, as I do not own it; yet.


[+5] [2010-11-01 02:40:53] Daniel Maurić

Enterprise Patterns and MDA: Building Better Software with Archetype Patterns and UML [1]

An excellent read for those looking to leverage ORM and UML

Enterprise Patterns and MDA: Building Better Software with Archetype Patterns and UML


[+4] [2008-08-05 17:28:24] Mario Marinato

Code Complete is the number one choice, but I'd also cite Gang of Four's Design Patterns and Craig Larman's Applying UML and Patterns.

The Timeless Way of Building, by Christopher Alexander, is another great one. Even though it's about archtecture, it's included in the bibliography of many great programming books I have already read.

Another one, from which I'm learning lots of new things, is Data Access Patterns, by Clifton Nock.

more than one book per anser, and many if not all of these in the first 2 pages. - xenoterracide
[+4] [2008-09-01 16:22:53] Patrick Hogan

I recently read Dreaming in Code [1] and found it to be an interesting read. Perhaps more so since the day I started reading it Chandler 1.0 was released. Reading about the growing pains and mistakes of a project team of talented people trying to "change the world" gives you a lot to learn from. Also Scott brings up a lot of programmer lore and wisdom in between that's just an entertaining read.

Beautiful Code [2] had one or two things that made me think differently, particularly the chapter on top down operator precedence.


(2) -1 One book please - Ruben Bartelink
[+4] [2008-09-07 06:12:33] Sven

Debugging the Development Process: Practical Strategies for Staying Focused, Hitting Ship Dates, and Building Solid Teams [1] by Steve Maguire.

No-non-sense, down-to-earth, entertaining, profound.


[+4] [2008-09-16 14:03:32] rikxik

Programming Perl (O'Reilly)

[+4] [2008-09-16 14:20:05] Saul

Lean Software Development [1] by Mary and Tom Poppendieck is definitely one for every developers bookshelf


[+4] [2008-09-16 14:33:42] Jay

Effective C++ [1] and More Effective C++ [2] by Scott Myers.


(1) -1: Good book, but Duplicate, see earlier - Ruben Bartelink
[+4] [2008-09-16 16:33:01] user12933

Object-Oriented Software Construction by Bertrand Meyer

I found this book very useful in my early days - it introduced me to the art and science of of large scale framework design. Whatever happened to Eiffel? - Andrew Matthews
[+4] [2008-11-04 22:40:29] nlativy

Nobody seems to have mentioned Stroustup's The C++ Programming Language [1] which is a great book that every C++ programmer should read.

I also think that Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change [2] should be read by every programmer and manager. Many of the ideas in the book are common knowledge now but the book gives an intelligent and inspiring account of the pursuit of quality in software engineering.

I would second the recommendations for Knuth and Gang of Four which are classics.


[+4] [2008-11-20 02:31:39] stu

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment [1] by W. Richard Stevens.


[+4] [2009-04-27 13:02:05] Levi Campbell

Three books come to mind for me.

  • The Art of Unix Programming by Eric S. Raymond.
  • The Wizardry Compiled by Rick Cook.
  • The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth.

I also love the writing of Paul Graham. [1]


[+4] [2009-07-23 01:30:31] Ariel

Adding to the great ones mentioned above:

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture [1]

Enterprise Integration Patterns [2]


(1) Can you edit this and make it refer to one that isnt already mentioned with higher votes so I can change my -1 for not reading the Q to a +1 for EIP please? - Ruben Bartelink
[+4] [2009-08-20 20:55:29] Dave Nichol

How influential a book is often depends on the reader and where they were in their career when they read the book. I have to give a shout-out to Head First Design Patterns [1]. Great book and the very creative way it's written should be used as an example for other tech book writers. I.e. it's written in order to facilitate learning and internalizing the concepts.

Head First Design Patterns [2]


I cant get past the cover - Dann
(3) I checked this one out of my local library, and returned it having made it only about 50 pages in. The "Head First" hurl-clip-art-and-sidenotes-on-every-page style may be an effective way of learning for some, but as a person with Attention Deficit Disorder, it made my head explode. I simply could not keep focus on the content. I much prefer the original Gang of Four book for the same information. - SFEley
(5) Duplicate post (sorry). - Ether
Duplicate of previous vote - SteveC
[+4] [2010-02-22 23:13:58] ErikT

My vote is "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning With Python" It's available both as a book [1] and as a free e-book [2].

It really helped me to understand the basics of not just Python but programming in general. Although it uses Python to demonstrate concepts, they apply to most, if not all, programming languages. Also: IT'S FREE!


[+4] [2010-08-25 10:53:18] Mahol25

alt text

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, by George Leonard [1]

It's about about what mindsets are required to reach mastery in any skill, and why. It's just awesome, and an easy read too.


+1: Love that book. Although... It's certainly not the most influential programming book, considering that most people don't know about it. - Brian MacKay
This was a really great book that is helping me improve in all of my hobbies/passinos. - Codygman
[+3] [2008-09-02 07:23:09] ricin

This isn't a direct answer to the question, because I feel it's already been answered above, however, one of the books that definitely had an impact on how I code is Code Reading, Volume 1: The Open Source Perspective [1].

alt text [2]


[+3] [2008-09-15 20:29:42] WaldWolf

to get advanced in prolog i like these two books:

The Art of Prolog [1]

The Craft of Prolog [2]

really opens the mind for logic programming and recursion schemes.


[+3] [2008-09-16 13:51:34] Henry B

It's not strictly a development book and I believe that I've mentioned it in another answer somewhere but it's a book I really believe all developers should read, from php to Java to assembly developers.

Code [1]

It really brings together what's under the hood in a computer, why memory shouldn't be wasted and some of the more interesting parts of the history of computing. It's an introduction to the computer and what it is. It gave me my ultimate passion for low level programming and helped me understand pointers and memory more than any other computer.


-1: Good book, but Duplicate, see earlier - Ruben Bartelink
[+3] [2008-09-16 13:55:06] Brian G

I think code complete is going to be a hugely popular one for this question, for me it corrected many of my bad habits and re-affirmed my good practices.

Also for my Perl background I really like Perl Best Practices from Damian Conway. Perl can be a nasty language if you don't use style and best practices, which is what I was seeing in the scripts I was reading ( and sometimes writing ) .

I like the Head First Series, they are quite good and easy to read when your are not in the mood for more serious style books.

[+3] [2008-09-16 14:25:32] Jonathan

Cocoa Programming [1] for Mac OS X by Aaron Hillegass


Wonderful book. Runs through all the basics that a beginning Cocoa programmer on the Mac or iPhone/iPad will need to know. Very readable, with lots of examples. A winner! - Jonathan Watmough
[+3] [2008-09-16 14:40:13] Christian D

This one started me off into true OOA&D.

Applying UML and Patterns: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development - Craig Larman

These would be up there as well:

  • Patterns in Enterprise Application Architecture - Fowler
  • Domain-Driven Design - Eric Evans

One will be fine, hopefully not a dup. Which one? - Ruben Bartelink
[+3] [2008-09-16 16:28:12] Craig Trader

The Unix Programming Environment [1] by Kernighan and Pike.

The Unix Programming Environment

More than any other book, it taught me the benefits in building small, easily-tested tools that can be combined to do big things.


+1 I would vote more if can. - khachik
[+3] [2008-09-16 16:48:53] thvo

Extreme Programming by Kent Beck

[+3] [2008-09-16 18:26:38] Kris Gray
Sure this is a duplicate. - Ghoti
[+3] [2008-09-16 20:32:08] Scott Lawrence

Coder to Developer [1], by Mike Gunderloy.


[+3] [2008-09-17 07:10:06] Anton Orlov

The most influential programming book for me was Enough Rope to Shoot Yourself in the Foot [1] by Allen Holub [2].

Cover of the book [3]

O, well, how long ago it was.


(3) Great title. - MusiGenesis
[+3] [2008-09-18 08:07:26] Ford

Whether you are coding in Smalltalk or not Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns [1] is a great read. Full of small observations that will change the way you code; for the better.


[+3] [2008-09-21 15:48:35] Mike Louw

I am surprised there is no mention yet of this book: Starting Forth [1], by Leo Brodie. After all Forth, being a stack-based language, should fit the audience on this site...

Admittedly, Forth is a weird language and not very popular these days. But this book is a joy to read. And it has cartoons! The book, as well as Brodie's other book, Thinking Forth [2], are both available free on the web.


[+3] [2008-09-24 23:29:29] CR.

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink. Interesting take on the future of our industry.

I assume most of the folks reading this will have read the books at the top of the list already. So, i'll offer a book that takes a different look at our industry.

alt text [1]


[+3] [2008-11-12 11:56:10] serfmum

Applying UML and Patterns [1] by Craig Larman.

The title of the book is slightly misleading; it does deal with UML and patterns, but it covers so much more. The subtitle of the book tells you a bit more: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development.


[+3] [2008-12-18 16:00:28] Andrew Hanson

For me it was Design Patterns Explained [1] it provided an 'Oh that's how it works' moment for me in regards to design patterns and has been very useful when teaching design patterns to others.


[+3] [2009-06-09 19:59:23] SRO

I read most of the books having an high score on this question - but not all of them (thanks God !) and I added the others one to my Amazon Wish List right away !

(Someone should create a list on Amazon for these books... Maybe a list named : "Stackoverflow best books ever" ? Anyone know how to do that ?)

To me, the best book ever has been Code Complete. It was a revelation. I bought the 2nd edition in english and then in French and I still think it should be a mandatory reading in any computer science school. Data structure is cool but Code complete, no joke, is much more important...

Then, my second best book was Writing Solid Code - having learn how to be understood, it was great to know how to write solid code.

Then a lot of very nice books but no one to mention here. Until 2001, I think : Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries. A jewel ! I read this book many times and it's still on my desk, just beside my LCD, along with Code Complete (really !). I Love the way it has been written (love the comment that has been added here and there - books should all be written like that !)

But well, I forget the very first great books I've read ! The ones who make me love computer science, with passion :

  • Compute! (C64 magazine - Will never forget Jim Butterfly :o)
  • Borland C++ User Guides (the old ones, circa 1991, those who tried to introduce object oriented programming, very nicely written).
  • Most Microsoft Developpement Tools User Guides, circa 1990-1995. Don't know who were writing them, but they was pretty cool ! I remember reading them late in the night, on saturdays...

Well, excellent question :o)

[+3] [2009-07-15 10:18:57] Roubachof

All the Thinking in... books.

Bruce Eckel is THE genious of pedagogy! It's so easy to understand the implementation of polymorphism in C++. It contains all that you should known about C++, basic and advanced concepts. Way better than the Stroustrup's. I learnt Java with him too.

And last but not the least:

The C++ one is free !

[+3] [2009-08-05 12:03:57] scim

Since I'm a C# programmer and most generic books already has been mentioned I'd like to recommend Bill Wagner's book "More Effective C# [1].

I think most people that develop composite WPF-applications also should have a look at Microsoft's Composite Application Guidance (also known as Prism):

Composite Application Guidance [2]


-1: Can we have one non duplicate please? - Ruben Bartelink
[+3] [2009-08-05 21:19:33] Nick Dandoulakis

Peter Norton's Assembly Language Book for the IBM PC [1]

alt text

I had spent countless nights in front of the pc (DOS), exploring unknown worlds :-D


[+3] [2009-11-26 20:24:21] EricSchaefer

Advanced Programming in the UNIX environment - W. Richard Stevens

This is Duplicate - jcubic
[+2] [2008-08-21 19:55:25] Michał Piaskowski

Pragmatic Programmer [1]


[+2] [2008-08-21 20:10:00] Lee

Working Effectively with Legacy Code [1] is a really amazing book that goes into great detail about how to properly unit test your code and what the true benefit of it is. It really opened my eyes.


[+2] [2008-08-25 17:02:29] Bill the Lizard

Read Head First Design Patterns [1] for a much more accessible introduction than the GoF book. I remember feeling like I'd leveled up after each chapter.

Kent Beck's Test Driven Development by Example [2] for TDD.


[+2] [2008-08-27 00:50:03] flipdoubt

I'm a big fan of most titles by Robert C. Martin, especially Agile Software Development, Principles, and Practices [1] and Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship [2].


[+2] [2008-09-08 02:59:37] pkoch

I found "The art of Prolog" a very good read.

[+2] [2008-09-08 03:55:08] Dominic Eidson

I think I grew up in a different generation than most here....

One of the most influential books I read, was APUE [1].

Or pretty much anything by W. Richard Stevens.


[+2] [2008-09-10 00:42:44] Gürkan Yeniçeri

Roger S. Pressman - Software Engineering (A Practitioners Approach). It has got a lot of usefull information.

[+2] [2008-09-16 14:28:03] Penfold

It's a toss up between Head First Design Patterns, for many of the reasons cited above, and Perl Testing: A Developer's Notebook, which should be one of the bibles for any Perl programmer wanting to write maintainable code.

[+2] [2008-09-16 14:55:09] Bharani

Win32 Programming by Charles Petzold

[+2] [2008-09-16 15:08:36] Pat

I suppose we could ask the same top rated question [1] every couple of weeks and upmod all those who mention code complete [2] or The Pragmatic Programmer [3].

Not that there is anythng wrong with it :-)


[+2] [2008-09-16 15:32:09] James Curran

"The Design and Evolution of C++" by Bjarne Stroustrup

Besides giving much background on C++, it is also a lengthy study on the trade-offs and design concerns involved in a large scale program. [1]


[+2] [2008-09-16 15:50:14] Craig Hyatt

While not strictly a software development book, I would highly recommend that Don't Make me Think! [1] be considered in this list.


[+2] [2008-09-16 16:36:38] R Caloca

Expert C Programming: Deep C Secrets by Peter Van Der Linden

By far the best book on programming ever written. If only other technical authors could master the ability to present deeply technical information in a way that is conversational but not patronizing. - Andrew O'Reilly
[+2] [2008-09-16 17:10:51] Buzz

My high school math teacher lent me a copy of Are Your Lights Figure Problem [1] that I have re-read many times. It has been invaluable, as a developer, and in life generally.


[+2] [2008-09-16 17:17:39] TMarshall

The question is, "What book really made an impact of how you work as a developer?" Without any doubt, Programming Windows with MFC, by Jeff Prosise, is the book that had the greatest impact on HOW I work as a developer. It did not teach me the fundamentals of "programming" but it opened the world of Windows platform development to me and many thousands of other developers.

I had written a little Windows code previously in the "Petzold style" before MFC was developed. I quickly decided the Windows platform we just not worth the trouble as a developer. When Prosise came out with his MFC book, I realized (along with thousands of other non-Windows programmers) that I could create an easy to use interface that users would not just understand, but actually enjoy using. I devoured the book, making so many notes in it and turning down so many corners, I eventually bought a second copy.

Prosise, Jeff. Programming Windows with MFC 2nd Ed. Microsoft Press 1999 ISBN: 1-57231-695-0

[+2] [2008-09-16 18:07:36] Mark Holtman

Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans

[+2] [2008-09-16 21:22:05] tkrehbiel

Amiga ROM Kernel Manuals :)

Mapping The Atari! - username
[+2] [2008-09-17 01:11:22] convex hull

This might not count as a "development book" but I have to throw it in anyway: Hackers by Stephen Levy. I found that it spoke to the emotional side of programming.

[+2] [2008-09-17 03:27:06] Dave Rolsky

Separately, I'd mention The Third Manifesto [1] by Hugh Darwen and CJ Date. If you're interested in understanding data (which seems uncommon among programmers) this book is a must-read. It will also make you sad when you realize just how badly broken SQL is, but it'll also help you cope with that brokenness. Knowing how a tool is broken lets you design with those deficits in mind.


[+2] [2008-09-17 08:53:51] AviD

Another book that has not been mentioned yet, and SHOULD be required reading for EVERY programmer, newbies on up to gurus, in ANY programming language, is Michael Howard's Writing Secure Code (2nd Edition) from MSPress.

[+2] [2008-09-17 09:22:32] ericfrommars

As so many people have listed Head First Design Patterns, which I agree is a very good book, I would like to see if so many people aware of a title called Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design [1].

This title deals with design patterns excellently. The first half of the book is very accessible and the remaining chapters require only a firm grasp of the content already covered The reason I feel the second half of the book is less accessible is that it covers patterns that I, as a young developer admittedly lacking in experience, have not used much.

This title also introduces the concept behind design patterns, covering Christopher Alexander's initial work in architecture to the GoF first implementing documenting patterns in SmallTalk.

I think that anyone who enjoyed Head First Design Patterns but still finds the GoF very dry, should look into Design Patterns Explained as a much more readable (although not quite as comprehensive) alternative.


[+2] [2008-09-17 09:58:14] enorvelle

Craig Larman's Applying UML and Patterns. While the Gang of Four book Design Patterns is very instructive, I found that I didn't "get" how to use design patterns until I ran across Larman's book in a programming class.

[+2] [2008-09-17 12:04:08] John Wright

Advanced MS-DOS by Ray Duncan.

[+2] [2008-09-17 12:58:34] gio

for low level entertainment i would suggest Michael Abrash's
i) -Zen of Code Optimization- and
ii) -Graphics Programming Black Book-
even if you dont do any graphics programming.

[+2] [2008-09-18 05:24:32] Christophe Herreman

I would say that " Beyond Code - Learn to Distinguish Yourself in 9 Simple Steps [1]" is quite a good and motivational book. I doesn't cover technical issues, but it describes ways of working with people, being professional, ... For me, this is a book you can read again and again if you are in need of some pep talk. Besides that, it is cheap and very easy and enjoyable to read in 3 to 4 hours.

There is a little review over at my blog [2].


[+2] [2009-03-02 22:23:43] Peter Girard

I saw a review of Software Factories: Assembling Applications with Patterns, Models, Frameworks, and Tools [1] on a blog talking also about XI-Factory [2], I read it and I must say this book is a must read. Altough not specifically targetted to programmers, it explains very clearly what is happening in the programming world right now with Model-Driven Architecture and so on..


Is it still happening? Is it the best MDA boook/info on the planet? - Ruben Bartelink
[+2] [2009-03-12 18:31:29] nandokakimoto

I'm reading now Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns and Practices [1]. For those interested in XP and Object-Oriented Design, this is a classic reading.

alt text [2]


I've heard good things about it too, but it's been mentioned earlier, see:… (Vote that up instead - ah, well, when you have the reputation to do it :) - Jonik
[+2] [2009-06-07 01:45:29] Phaedrus

Solid Code Optimizing the Software Development Life Cycle [1]

Although the book is only 300 pages and favors Microsoft technologies it still offers some good language agnostic tidbits.


-1 Duplicate of higher rated, sorry - Ruben Bartelink
[+2] [2009-08-23 05:17:21] Rejeev Divakaran

Domain Driven Design By Eric Evans is a wonderful book!

[+2] [2009-12-03 17:49:07] t0mm13b

What happened to 'Expert C Programming - Deep C Secrets' by Peter Van Der Linden - a classical and enjoyable read. Should have read that immediately after learning C years ago but got it about after 3 years into learning C! A recommended book which answers the most common SO questions on pointers (a favourite subject of mine). Live it, eat it, breathe it! 10/10!

[+2] [2010-02-06 05:16:09] adatapost

What Every Programmer Should Know About Memory [1]

by Ulrich Drepper - explains the structure of modern memory subsystems and suggests how to utilize them efficiently.

PS: Sorry If I am double posting.


[+2] [2010-02-08 16:31:06] Zack Marrapese

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know [1]

alt text,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg [2]

This book pools together the collective experiences of some of the world's best programmers. It is a must read.


[+2] [2010-12-09 06:49:10] michaelok

Steve Macguire's Writing Solid Code [1]


[+2] [2011-01-14 16:09:12] David Watson

In the beginning was the command line. Neal Stephenson.

(1) Sounds interesting. Link? - Tim McNamara
Or just read it off his website: - jrsconfitto
[+1] [2008-08-21 21:26:41] popopome

Implementation Patterns by Kent Beck.

alt text [1]

You can learn how to communicate people with programming.


[+1] [2008-08-25 16:53:33] Mike Caron

Deitel and Deitel, "C++: How to Program"

XUnit Test Patterns

[+1] [2008-09-04 01:10:24] benc

Code is Law [1] - you are doing all this writing, editing, and thinking in [language of your choice] but WHY? What does you code MEAN? What will does it actually DO?

(I could have recommended a book on QA, but I didn't...)


[+1] [2008-09-06 16:06:14] Luther Baker

Pro Spring [1] is a superb introduction to the world of Inversion of Control and Dependency Injection. If you're not aware of these practices and their implications - the balance of topics and technical detail in Pro Spring is excellent. It builds a great case and consequent personal foundation.

Another book I'd suggest would be Robert Martin's Agile Software Development [2] (ASD). Code smells, agile techniques, test driven dev, principles ... a well-written balance of many different programming facets.

More traditional classics would include the infamous GoF Design Patterns [3], Bertrand Meyer's Object Oriented Software Construction [4], Booch's Object Oriented Analysis and Design [5], Scott Meyer [6]'s " Effective C++ [7]'" series and a lesser known book I enjoyed by Gunderloy, Coder to Developer [8].

And while books are nice ... don't forget radio [9]!

... let me add one more thing. If you haven't already discovered safari [10] - take a look. It is more addictive than stack overflow :-) I've found that with my google type habits - I need the more expensive subscription so I can look at any book at any time - but I'd recommend the trial to anyone even remotely interested.

(ah yes, a little obj-C today, cocoa tomorrow, patterns? soa? what was that example in that cookbook? What did Steve say in the second edition [11]? Should I buy this book? ... a subscription like this is great if you'd like some continuity and context to what you're googling ...)


(1) +1 for Object Oriented Software Construction - a must read. - Tobias Langner
[+1] [2008-09-16 01:12:00] AShelly

Here are two I haven't seen mentioned:
I wish I had read " Ruminations on C++ [1]" by Koenig and Moo much sooner. That was the book that made OO concepts really click for me.
And I recommend Michael Abrash's "Zen of Code Optimization" for anyone else planning on starting a programming career in the mid 90s.


Can you narrow it down to one please? - Ruben Bartelink
[+1] [2008-09-16 13:54:14] Ferruccio

Modern C++ Design by Andrei Alexandrescu

[+1] [2008-09-16 13:59:43] community_owned

Writing Solid Code by Steve Maguire.

[+1] [2008-09-16 14:01:49] David Dibben

"Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications" by Grady Booch. I read this a long time ago and it showed me that there could be a methodology to developing Object Oriented Software. Since then many other books have had an impact on me but this one got me started.

[+1] [2008-09-16 14:19:42] jop

Mine is Test Driven Development by Example [1]


[+1] [2008-09-16 15:46:22] Kelly Adams

Learning C# 2005, by Jesse Liberty & Brian MacDonald (O'Reilly).

ISBN 10: 0-596-10209-7.

When I first made the jump from ASP classic procedural code to object-oriented C# code in VS2005, this book set me on the right path.

[+1] [2008-09-16 15:55:16] Bryan Oakley

Software Tools by Brian W. Kernighan and P. J. Plauger by a wide margin had the most effect on me.

[+1] [2008-09-16 16:15:44] Eddie Velasquez

Inside the C++ Object Model by Stan Lippman. It made C++ finally "click" for me, before it was all "magic". This book gave me a different frame of mind when approaching a new programming language.

[+1] [2008-09-16 16:27:22] agamotto

Literate Programming by Donald Knuth, it's a great book on code structure.

[+1] [2008-09-16 17:42:11] Snibble

The Productive Programmer by Ford

I'm not quite through this one yet, but I'm already thrilled by some of the tips/tricks I've picked up to become more...well...productive.

Sure, there's plenty of the stuff we all already know (use the keyboard shortcuts, DRY, etc). But there's plenty of new stuff to go with it. And careful readers will quickly start to see how things can be combined for even greater effect.

[+1] [2008-09-16 17:45:44] Vaibhav

Object Oriented Analysis and Design - by Grady Booch

[+1] [2008-09-16 17:53:25] DavidGR

"Thinking in C++" by Bruce Eckel

[+1] [2008-09-16 18:55:39] Nate

Donald Norman, 'The Design of Everyday Things'

Not about programming, per se, but about how things in the world should work -- kind of the psychology of usability.

It's been invaluable for me in designing both end-user interfaces and APIs.

[+1] [2008-09-16 22:16:55] gt124

Inside the C++ object model [1] by Stanley Lippman


[+1] [2008-09-17 00:52:31] Gustavo Rubio

How to think like a computer scientist: learning with python [1]

May not be the most advanced book on the world but it made me understand programming concepts that I couldn't, especially object oriented topics.


[+1] [2008-09-17 04:44:29] Jay Walker

Agile Software Development with Scrum [1] by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle.

I used this book as the starting point to understanding Agile development.


[+1] [2008-09-17 05:49:22] Ian

The Pragmatic programmer was pretty good. However one that really made an impact when I was starting out was :

Windows 95 System Programming Secrets" [1]

I know - it sounds and looks a bit cheesy on the outside and has probably dated a bit - but this was an awesome explanation of the internals of Win95 based on the Authors (Matt Pietrek) investigations using his own own tools - the code for which came with the book. Bear in mind this was before the whole open source thing and Microsoft was still pretty cagey about releasing documentation of internals - let alone source. There was some quote in there like "If you are working through some problem and hit some sticking point then you need to stop and really look deeply into that piece and really understand how it works". I've found this to be pretty good advice - particularly these days when you often have the source for a library and can go take a look. Its also inspired me to enjoy diving into the internals of how systems work, something that has proven invaluable over the course of my career.

Oh and I'd also throw in effective .net - great internals explanation of .Net from Don Box.


[+1] [2008-09-17 07:45:40] Rob

In recent years it has been 'The C++ Standard Library' by 'Nicolai M. Josuttis'. It's my bible.

alt text [1]


[+1] [2008-09-17 08:58:01] Jonas Gulle

The first book that made a real impact on me was Mastering Turbo Assembler [1] by Tom Swan.

Other books that have had an impact was Just For Fun [2] by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond and of course The Pragmatic Programmer [3] by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas.


[+1] [2008-09-17 19:37:30] Lot105

If you are doing anything in Unix/Linux/MacOS etc, you must read Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment (also known by the acronym APUE), by the late W Richard Stevens. If you don't know how file descriptors work or what sessions are, or all the things you should do when you daemonize yourself (admit it, you don't), then this book will tell you.

You'll feel amatuerish for a bit afterwards, but if you want to consider yourself a professional programmer (in any language) in the Unix environment you need to read this.

[+1] [2008-09-20 19:17:47] Doug L.

Even though I had been programming rofessionally for years, Rocky Lhotka's "Business Objects" series about his CSLA framework was the book that opened my eyes.

His ideas he got me excited about software development patterns and theory again. It set me on the path of a new interest in learning how to be a better developer, and not just learning about the latest gee-whiz control or library. (Don't get me wrong, I still love a good technical book too - you gotta keep up!)

[+1] [2008-09-20 19:30:42] daniel

I found the The Algorithm Design Manual [1] to be a very beneficial read. I also highly recommend Programming Pearls [2].


[+1] [2008-09-21 02:14:44] Doug L.

" The Fortran Coloring Book [1]" by Dr. Roger Kaufman [2] (1978, ISBN:0262610264)

What a silly concept - more basic than even a "Dummies" book! But it works for any language (with a few fortran specific examples of course), explaining the basic concepts of logic, variables, i/o, etc. in a very understandable and "Painfully Funny" way.

It's enough to get a ten year old interested in programming...

alt text

(Found cover photo on a Flickr user account [3])


I think I still have a copy of that! ;) - TrueWill
[+1] [2008-09-21 12:09:30] MovingSpotlight

recommended for Windows Programmer, Programming Windows [1]


[+1] [2008-10-02 22:46:35] Geoff Snowman

Anything by Edward Tufte: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information; Envisioning Information; Visual Explanations

[+1] [2008-10-18 15:39:15] sergio_petralia

OK, so the question is not "what's the best programming book", but "if you could tell yourself what to read in the beginning of your career"...

Probably one of "On Lisp" and SICP, plus one of CLRS or "Algorithms: a creative approach" by Udi Manber.

Introduction to Algorithms by Udi Manber [1]

The first two will teach lots of programming techniques, patterns, and really open up one's mind to his/her own creativity; the other two are different. They're more theoretical, but also very important, focusing on design of correct and efficient algorithms (and requiring substantially more math).

I see lots of people recommending the three first books when the subject of "good programming books" pops up, but the last one (by Manber) is a great book, and few people know it. It's a shame! Manber focuses on the incremental development of algorithms through theorem proving using induction.


-1 Pick one, stick in a pic and let people vote on it - Ruben Bartelink
@sergio: Agreed about Manber's book. Please do what Ruben says and I'll upvote. Let me know if you decide to do that. - Neil G
[+1] [2008-10-18 15:55:53] HeretoLearn

If you write code in C then Expert C Programming is an eye opener. It has answers to all the things you wondered why it works this way. Peter Van Der Linden has a great writing style and makes arcane concepts very readable. A must read for all C developers

[+1] [2008-10-30 04:23:11] lkessler

Fortran IV with Watfor and Watfiv by Cress, Dirkson and Graham.

This book taught me my first programming language that I programmed onto punch cards at the time. After 3 years, the book was all tatters because I had used it so much.

alt text [1]

Fortran was a great language! It had a super optimizer and produced very fast code. It is still very popular in Great Britain and FTN95 is now a very full-featured and capable compiler. I sometimes wish I could have continued to use it, but Delphi is a more than adequate replacement.


[+1] [2008-11-14 15:12:41] Kramii

Graphics Programming in Windows [1] is difficult to fault.


[+1] [2008-12-06 00:18:05] Stephen

Etudes for Programmers by Charles Wetherell, More Programming Pearls (Jon Bently),

[+1] [2008-12-18 18:34:48] Ferruccio

The Scelbi-Byte Primer

I pored over the source code listings in this book many times until, one day, I suddenly grokked 8080 assembly language programming.

[+1] [2009-01-05 17:14:58] Slayer SA

Even though i've never programmed a game this book helped me understand a lot of things in a fun way.


[+1] [2009-01-05 17:16:13] Slayer SA

I bough this when I was a complete newbie and took me from only knowing that Java existed to a reliable team member in a short time


[+1] [2009-01-13 17:50:48] Chris Gallucci

Still a worthwhile classic is the Interface Hall of Shame [1]. This website detailed a huge assortment of interface design faux pas that is quite entertaining. The original no longer exists, but others have re-established the HOS on their own websites.


[+1] [2009-01-14 21:35:53] BillD

Object Oriented Design Heuristics [1] is a great read. I couldn't put it down.


[+1] [2009-01-14 21:46:58] Kent Beck

I'll add a couple that I haven't seen here that are influential for me:

  • Yourdon and Constantine, "Structured Design". Everything you need to know about software design is in here, if you're willing to dig for it a little.
  • Leonard Koren, "Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers". A pragmatic philosophy balancing beauty and pragmatism.

-1: One will be fine - Ruben Bartelink
[+1] [2009-02-18 18:32:58] Sameer

How to Solve It: A new aspect of mathematical method [1] Although not directly related to computer programming but it does teach you the art of problem solving and that's what computer programming is all about.


[+1] [2009-04-27 13:04:38] Jared

An introduction to GW Basic. With out it I never would have learned how to program and any other books wouldn't have done me any good.

[+1] [2009-05-26 23:33:05] Jherico

Algorithms in C++ [1] was invaluable to me in learning Big O notation and the ins and outs of the various sort algorithms. This was published before Sedgewick decided he could make more money by dividing it into 5 different books.

C++ FAQs [2] is an amazing book that really shows you what you should and shouldn't be doing in C++. The backward compatibility of C++ leaves a lot of landmines about and this book helps one carefully avoid them while at the same time being a good introduction into OO design and intent.


[+1] [2009-10-22 11:00:33] cloggins

It seems most people have already touched on the some very good books. One which really helped me out was Effective C#: 50 Ways to Improve your C# [1]. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Tao of Pooh [2]. Philosophy books can be good for the soul, and the code.


-1: Duplicate post of one higher voted. Please be so kind as to delete to make this thread cleaner. Even if the one with the higher votes is newer, please take one for the team to tidy this messy question and let the answers as a whole gain the value they should have - Ruben Bartelink
[+1] [2009-11-06 21:42:33] Stacy Vicknair

One I didn't already see on here was xUnit Test Patterns: Refactoring Test Code [1] by Gerard Meszaros. This book really helped me see unit testing from a fresh perspective.


[+1] [2009-11-08 08:48:02] pajato0

I'm late to this question but apparently still have something unique to offer... Software Engineering Economics by Barry Boehm [1] which, to summarize, says that if you want to really improve software productivity get better people since better tools, hardware, languages, methods, etc. will all have a marginal impact. Only better people drive up productivity by significant amounts. I emphasize, this is better engineers, not more engineers!

Not the kind of book you'd take to bed with you, like you might do with Coders At Work but the kind of book that drives home a lesson that our industry has struggled mightily to take to heart. Witness off-shoring, a false economy that Boehm's model predicts will have only a marginal positive effect, if any at all. Check it out.


[+1] [2009-11-23 18:08:25] Upperstage

Essential reading for any mentor/team leader/manager or anyone who reports to the aforementioned.

alt text,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg [1]


[+1] [2009-12-14 15:59:25] z-index

This is a must read book for every programmer: Database system concepts by Abraham Silberschatz.

alt text [1]


Have it sitting on my desk now from over 7 years ago when I was a budding CS student :) - user195488
[+1] [2009-12-16 09:00:39] user231947

This is a very rich and useful compilation, however, I am a bit surprised I have not encountered Andrew S. Tanenbaum among the authors. IMO he is one of the best CS professors, and his genius has to do mainly with his extraordinary ability in making rather difficult material accessible to the CS undergraduates. His books [1] (Modern Operating Systems, or Computer Networks might ring a bell) did a wonderful job in providing me with a solid foundation in CS while doing my BS and I highly recommend them. Some other interesting stuff on Tanenbaum, proving his skills go beyond teaching: author of an OS called MINIX - Linus had his fare share of inspiration from it when implementing Linux; Amoeba - distributed OS; Turtle - free anonymous p2p network.


(4) Wall of text. What is your recommendation? - drozzy
[+1] [2010-02-04 18:36:10] drozzy

The Art of Game Design - A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell

Jesse Schell has taught Game Design and led research projects at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center since 2002.

Nuff said.

The Art of Game Design - A Book of Lenses [1]

PS: Sorry If I am double posting, I couldn't find this book in the answers - either because the title was not exact or there was no image. Let me know and I'll delete it if so.


[+1] [2010-02-08 16:53:22] Paul Mitchell

Mr Bunny's Guide to ActiveX [1]


+1 You're no anonymous yet another Paul Mitchell who wont put detail in his profile! (No actual +1 as have used up votes on this thread on way to page 8!) - Ruben Bartelink
[+1] [2010-02-23 16:18:32] Marc Bollinger

The Pink Shirt book

Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC. The Pink Shirt book.

...well, someone had to say it.

IIRC, I had that. Lots of low level groveling in MS-DOS and BIOS. - Arthur Kalliokoski
[+1] [2010-03-03 21:13:05] Mark Schultheiss

You.Next(): Move Your Software Development Career to the Leadership Track ~ Michael C. Finley (Author), Honza Fedák (Author) link text [1]


[+1] [2010-05-06 07:59:34] Jonathan

Maverick!: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace [1]

alt text [2]

Will make you realise what a workplace should be like.


[0] [2008-08-21 20:10:10] Johnno Nolan

Refactoring [1]

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture [2]


[0] [2008-08-21 20:54:54] JosephStyons

Code Craft [1]


[0] [2008-08-21 21:10:00] David Hayes

I have a couple of (rather old) blog posts on this subject

[0] [2008-08-21 21:26:53] Stu

SQL for smarties [1]


[0] [2008-08-27 00:46:53] jeremiahd

In addition to other people's suggestions, I'd recommend either acquiring a copy of SICP, or reading it online [1]. It's one of the few books that I've read that I feel greatly increased my skill in designing software, particularly in creating good abstraction layers.

A book that is not directly related to programming, but is also a good read for programmers (IMO) is Concrete Mathematics [2]. Most, if not all of the topics in it are useful for programmers to know about, and it does a better job of explaining things than any other math book I've read to date.


[0] [2008-08-27 00:59:15] liammclennan

Agile Software Development [1] by Alistair Cockburn


[0] [2008-09-12 01:06:12] busse

Not a programming book, but still a very important book every programmer should read:

Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie [1]


[0] [2008-09-16 14:02:17] Garth Gilmour

The Interpretation of Object-Oriented Programming Languages [1] by Ian Craig

Because it showed me how much more there was to OO than standard C++/Java idioms


[0] [2008-09-16 14:14:55] kzotin

Thinking in Java (Patterns) , Bruce Eckel

[0] [2008-09-16 14:16:27] jonpeltier

Professional Excel Development This book showed how to make high quality applications within one of the most ubiquitous programming platforms available.

[0] [2008-09-16 14:41:23] Stuart

PHP objects, patterns and practice.

[0] [2008-09-16 14:46:03] Bjoern

'How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary' [1] by Robert L Read

Not exactly a book but an essay, but this one was definitely an inspiration for me when I got into coding. Loved the notion of entering a tribe. Worth a read.


[0] [2008-09-16 17:00:48] pajato0

A collection it was, and stunning. Edsger Dijkstra's (with some help from C.A.R. Hoare) little black book Structured Programming [1] and particlarly the essay titled "On Our Inability To Do Much".


[0] [2008-09-16 17:51:30] Joe Morgan

The C++ Series of programming books by Deitel and Deitel

[0] [2008-09-16 18:07:36] Joe Liversedge

Managing Gigabytes [1] is an instant classic for thinking about the heavy lifting of information.


[0] [2008-09-16 18:08:12] user13288

C# for Experienced Programmers

or really anything from Dietel & Dietel. I have read several of their books, and everything has been awesome.

[0] [2008-09-16 18:22:48] Michael Easter

Years ago, Bruce Eckel's Thinking in C++ taught me a great deal about C++ but also the importance of isolating an issue to a small 'sandbox' for study/analysis. This technique has greatly impacted my career and routinely helps me troubleshoot problems both for myself and others.

These days, I refer to Thinking in Java, which is written in the same style. Somehow, the style is beyond mere, simple 'examples' and profoundly gets at the heart of the issue.

I am so grateful that I will buy virtually anything by Eckel, sight unseen.

[0] [2008-09-16 18:41:53] EmmEff

When I first started, there was "Mastering Turbo Pascal" by Tom Swan. There is nothing terribly profound about this book. It was clear and concise with usable examples. Based on this knowledge, I spawned a software development career now 15+ years in.

[0] [2008-09-16 18:42:22] Mark

C++ BlackBook. KISS all the way through

[0] [2008-09-16 19:04:12] Zartog

Mastering C++ from Tom Swan. It was the best kind of book, it had examples which were simple enough to teach concepts but useful enough to solve other problems. It was very readable, it was the first book I read when got to college, and it only needed to be read once.

[0] [2008-09-16 19:20:14] unknown (yahoo)

Tenenbaum's first operating systems book. My first look at kernal level programming.

[0] [2008-09-16 19:41:58] Joe Corkery

"Algorithms in C" (1st edition) by Sedgewick taught me all about algorithms as well as teaching me all about the pitfalls of documentation and copy/pasting code as all the example code in this version was taken from the "Algorithms in Pascal" version and were simply passed through a simple code translator which did not adjust for the different indexing schemes.

[0] [2008-09-16 20:07:28] Ryan Skarin

My all-time favorite was the C# Back Book, by Matthew Telles.

[0] [2008-09-16 20:10:22] TheONE

Dreaming in Code [1] Has probably had the most profound impact in the last 6 months.


[0] [2008-09-16 20:21:42] Roskoto

"The C++ Programming Language" by Bjarne Stroustrup

[0] [2008-09-16 21:17:05] Bob Moore

Actually, two books stand out. The first was Code Complete. Despite its age, this is still a very useful book, and the chapter on the dangers of premature optimisation is worth the price of the book on its own.

The second one was The Psychology of Everyday Things (now called The Design of Everyday Things, I think), which changed the way I think about user interfaces when designing applications. It made me more user-focused.

[0] [2008-09-17 01:53:01] Dennis Ferron

"Writing Solid Code: Microsoft's Techniques for Developing Bug-Free C Programs (Microsoft Programming Series)" [1] by Steve MacGuire.

Interesting what a large proportion the books mentioned here are C/C++ books.


[0] [2008-09-17 01:59:41] wmbetts

For me "Memory as a programming concept in C and C++" really opened my eyes to how memory management really works. If you're a C or C++ developer I consider it a must read. You will defiantly learn something or remember things you might have forgotten along the way. [1]


[0] [2008-09-17 05:56:45] community_owned

SAP ABAP programming? "Teach Yourself ABAP in 21 Days" is the best book!

It contains no clever tricks or wizardry, but after 3 years, I never came upon a more comprehensive book

[0] [2008-09-17 06:21:04] tarantula

Schaum's Outline of Programming with C++ by John R Hubbard.

This was the first programming book I read, when I started out with C++. It was gifted to me by someone who saw my interest in programming. The book is very good for beginners - it started from the elementary concepts, went up to templates and vectors. The examples given were pretty relevant. The book made you ponder and ask more questions, and try out things for yourself.

[0] [2008-09-17 09:31:28] GowriKumar

How to Solve it by computer [1] - R.G.Dromey


[0] [2008-09-17 12:14:42] Desty

Probably "C for Dummies" vol 1, back in 1997 or so. Just an introduction really, but it was a good read after having picked up the taste for programming in GFA Basic on the Atari ST. The Coronado C tutorial around the same time helped too.

[0] [2008-09-17 14:03:03] old_timer

Michael Abrash The Zen of Assembly Language

[0] [2008-09-17 14:34:25] workmad3

Applying UML and Design Patterns.

It helped design patterns to click with me, and provided a justification for UML that made sense to me in the phrasing 'UML as Sketch'. Namely that UML should be used as a brief sketch of the system that has the additional benefit of you not having to explain the notation to others (they either already know UML or you give them a UML book to read)

[0] [2008-09-17 18:40:02] Nils Pipenbrinck

The Algorithms book from Robert Sedgewick. A must-read for application developers.

Comes in many flavours (C, C++, Java)

[0] [2008-12-22 14:15:31] Dave Markle

Object-Oriented Programming in Turbo C++ [1]. Not super popular, but it was the one that got me started, and was the first book that really helped me grok what an object was. Read this one waaaay back in high school. It sort of brings a tear to my eye...


[0] [2009-03-11 04:06:22] egyamado

Beginning C# 3.0: An Introduction to Object Oriented Programming [1]

This is the book for those who want to understand the whys and hows of OOP using C# 3.0. You don't want to miss it.


[0] [2009-04-27 13:14:31] Scott Lance

Beginning Visual C++ [1]

When I first started programming in a OOP languages, I found this book not only to be a comprehensive book about C++ and MFC, it was also has one of the best explanations of Object Oriented concepts I've seen.

When I talk to developers who are just starting out programming in an object oriented language, I tell them to read this book.