All the most successful people in the world are advocates for reading. From Bill Gates to Elon Musk – the most notable among us do what we often fail to do – read.
When we read, we’re extending ourselves into the minds of others – absorbing the author’s years of experiences, saving ourselves from the journey it took to arrive at precisely where they are now.
When we read, we allow ourselves to become part of a condensed version of the journey, completing it right through to the conclusion in a matter of days rather than years. The more you read, the more years you have.
As developers, we are creators of systems and worlds. However, to be effective at our jobs, we need to understand these systems and worlds we’re creating. When we read, we expand the borders that define our domain of knowledge.
Here is a curated list of books you should check out and put on your reading list. You don’t have to read them all but at least endeavor to finish one. That’s because one book can potentially equate to a decade’s worth of knowledge.
If physical books don’t work for you – try eBooks instead. You can read it on your phone instead of scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to pass time. It’s worked for me in the past few months and maybe it’ll work for you.
Being a Better Human
The Laws Of Human Nature
The Laws Of Human Nature is not a light book. Rather, it’s thick enough to make a good door stopper. However, don’t let its sheer size daunt you from reading it.
There are many self-help books out there but the Laws of Human Nature take the task of helping you understand yourself an the people around you differently.
The Laws that Robert Greene uncovers can help you become a better human by bringing into focus certain ideas about our nature, our tendencies and the way we view, react and behave in our world.
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
Russell Brand may seem like a special kind of character, but his experiences in life can help us enlighten our own.
If you’re feeling lost, run down by reality or just plain confused about your current version of life, you should give this book a read. Freedom from Our Addictions is not just about quitting drugs and various other addictive substances – it’s a book about the things that mess up our lives because we are unable to let go.
Letting go is a process and Russell Brand can guide you through it in a non-BS kind of way.
Atomic Habits addresses our inability to sustain change. James Clear gets to the root of our failures and presents an alternative (and highly practical way) of overcoming our personal difficulties.
If you’re looking to implement real change, then Atomic Habits is the book for you. It is, in a way, a self-help book but one that’s written with intelligence, takes us into areas of psychology and is well researched. The suggestions and methodologies offered are practical and highly applicable, and therefore, helping increase your chances of achieving personal success.
Better with Money
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been a financial staple suggestion for as long as I can remember – and possibly for good cause as well.
Robert T. Kiyosaki makes us rethink the way we treat wealth and money. While not quite explicitly saying so, but he’s the original 4-hour work week kind of guy that turns you from thinking like an employee to one that acts like an employer.
You might be making a good wage now, but entrepreneurship is one way to escape the AI and automation pinch. This book isn’t about entrepreneurship, per se, but more about how to think and have a proper relationship with money.
The Intelligent Investor
First published in 1949, the timelessness of the content makes this book independent of time – because the world run in cycles and the Intelligent Investor breaks now certain rules that repeat itself over and over again.
When it comes to investing, your aim is not to lose money and this book breaks down the difference between actual investing and speculation – because speculation is more a gable based on external factors while investing works on a set of different principles.
The Intelligent Investor addresses these principles and factors in a way that has managed to still apply, more than half a century later.
The Richest Man In Babylon
A book with concepts that should be obvious to us and taught in school but not. The Richest Man in Babylon is a book that’s changed lives and makes you think about your personal finances and gives you a different perspective on how to treat the money you make.
Having money is one thing – building wealth is a slightly different matter.
The content contained in The Richest Man In Babylon has a timelessness attached to them, making it a classic personal finance read I wished I personally got my hands on when I started earning.
The Little Book Of Common Sense Investing
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is written by the man who invested the idea of the Indexed fund.
If you’re new to the idea of investing in the market, Bogle offers insights and the basics of investing that every newbie should know before they jump in.
It is also a book to read if you’re thinking about what to do with your money long term and is fantastic if you want to be a low maintenance kind of investor that gives you solid information about the different kinds of funds available, their perks, quirks and points you should be aware of.
Better with Dreams
Poverty Proof is a gem from a South African man by the name of Douglas Kruger. The physical print of the book is only available in South Africa and contains examples relating to the country.
However, the principles outlined are simple to digest and still apply to almost anyone.
Inspired by the idea behind the Art of War, Poverty Proof tries to be a book that is universal to any economy and economic situation. The eBook version is still worth checking out and costs slightly more than your average cup of coffee.
The Alchemist is a fictional classic that follows the story of a shepherd named Santiago. The prose is simple to read and is infused with messages that concern the journey of uncovering your purpose and dreams.
As developers, we became developers because we all had a dream. The question is, are you brave enough to uncover that dream and follow it through until the end?
The Alchemist is a good little book to read to remind you of your priorities and why you chose the path you’re currently on – or get back on the right path if you’ve ventured away from what you were supposed to be doing.
The 4-Hour Work Week
The 4-Hour Work Week is an older piece but the concepts written by Tim Ferriss can still be applied today.
The idea is not to just move to a remote country and use the exchange rate as leverage – but rather, figure out what the important things in life to you are and find a system that is able to implement such a life.
Ferriss does give practical ideas – some of which have now become the main staple for online entrepreneurship. This is the book where it all began.
Side Hustle does what the 4-Hour Workweek doesn’t – an actual practical guide from beginning to monetization of a potential income stream.
If you’re looking to diversify your sources of income or make some extra cash on the side, Side Hustle is a mini-manual for anyone that’s looking to turn their dreams and passions into something bigger.
If you’ve got an entrepreneurial streak in you but don’t know where to start, Side Hustle is a book to kickstart them with.
Zero Bugs and Program Faster
Here is a programming book that won’t cost you an arm, your left leg and one of your kidneys to read. While the chapters are short, they are easy to digest and with concepts that may give you a few eureka moments for your own code.
The tales inside, however, are analogy based – so if you’re more inclined towards a more traditional approach to thinking about code, then this book is not for you.
If you’re the kind that likes to read about the coding woes of others and how they managed to overcome it, then Zero Bugs is the kind of reading you’d want to get your hands on. Who knows? Their head-banging moments might be your table flipping moments too.
Just Enough Software Architecture: A Risk-Driven Approach
Architecture is a topic that’s not studied enough once you start working on a project or finished your CS degree.
Just Enough Software Architecture hits on important points like how not to over-engineer, deal with contingencies, changes and methodologies that can help you better architecture your software.
The book is about software design – something that needs to be talked about more than just how to solve a specific piece of code.
Game Programming Patterns
Everything is a pattern – from events to the way something behaves. If you’ve ever wanted to make a game, Game Programming Patterns can help you get started on your quest to turn that dream idea into a reality.
The code samples are written in C++ but can feel more like pseudo code due to the way it’s written. A fantastic book for anyone looking to get into game development. The patterns can also apply to commercial, non-gaming related software production as well as software, in general, moves towards a more gamified state.
The Effective Engineer
If you’re new to the industry and want to be a better developer, The Effective Engineer offer insights that can fast track your revelations about how things actually work in the real world of engineering, things they don’t teach you in school and things that can help you become both effective and efficient at what you do.
The content is mostly aimed at newbies and deals with the meta-stuff that comes with coding. This is not a coding book the content inside has the potential to make you better at it.
Better at Understanding Reality
Thinking Fast & Slow
Thinking Fast & Slow is one of those books that once you get started, you have to finish it. Well written and fully backed with data and sources rather than speculation and opinion, this book is a must-read if you want to understand how the world works beyond how you think it works.
There are nuggets of truth within each chapter, each advocating on thinking based on real facts and attempts to shape our often biased intuitive thinking. It introduces theories that are not mainstream concepts but should be – and in a way that challenges the way we think about ourselves and our reality.
With Bill Gates at the helm and advocating for the book, Ray Dalio book of Principles is something that is infused with multiple decades’ worth of wisdom and experiences. The narrative of this book is split into 3 parts, each part serving a grander picture on the Principles that’s helped turned the man into an industry leader and highly respected for his way of thinking.
Personally, I’m currently working through this one and while it is quite a thick volume, the contents inside are worth its entire weight in gold.