Best Books for Software Developers

This winter, SD Times editor Jennifer deJong Lent asked me to contribute an SD Times article on recommended books for developers. Jennifer and I agreed my list would exclude books about languages, databases or IDEs. I was pleased to contribute.

Jennifer begins her article with the following: “With the proliferation of online articles and ebooks, old-fashioned paper books seem not to have a place in today’s world. Many experts, however, still find useful things in paperbacks and hardcovers. From technology to people and team management, these books still help developers out today. Here are what the experts recommend.”

Following are my recommendations – along with a few that didn’t make the article.

Category: Management and Career Development Books

Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach

By Gerald M. Weinberg

This book was first published in 1986 and it’s still relevant today. Weinberg was the first person to write about the human side of software engineering, and I think of him as the Yoda of software development. His advice on leading software projects boils down to this: stay out of your own way, and know yourself.
— Ellen Gottesdiener, founder of agile consultancy EBG Consulting



Category: Software Methodology Books

Leading Lean Software Development: Results Are not the Point

By Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck

Leading Lean Software Development addresses one of the key issues that software development teams following the Scrum methodology tend to struggle with: how to focus on the larger organization, not just the team itself.



The Art of Agile Development

By James Shore and Shane Warden

This hands-on book deals with project management issues and offers a wealth of practical advice, particularly around test-driven development.




The ones that didn’t make the SD Times list

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

By Michael Pollan

Why?  Because of its elegant simplicity. 64  Rules. One rule per page, with a simple image on the opposite page. Gorgeously concise. Like software should be.


The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity

By Alan Cooper

This seminal book by the father of personas reminds us to understand the product from the outside-in. Not that we should ignore the inside-out, but it starts with the customer.




deJon Lent, Jennifer. “The Best Books for Software Developers”, SD Times, December 15, 2011.

Agile, Learning, collaboration

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