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I've been on this job for mere 5 years now. I feel like I've learned a lot in that time, and I continue to challenge myself whenever I can, even though my job doesn't allow that very often. Still, I feel like I've just started my professional career as a developer, and there is still much to learn. This is obviously true, being a developer is all about learning. So I've decided to order a book or two from this list:


These guys (Jeff et al.) must be doing something right, so I'm guessing Jeff's recommendations have some weight. I'm considering buying Code Complete and The Mythical Man Month since they are on top of the list, but I am not sure these two are the right choice.

Would you recommend these two as a good learning/self-improvement books? Regardless of your answer, please state your reasons. I'm just curious if these two have a good ROI or should I just keep my money and buy tons of ice-cream. Some of the questions would be: are they still relevant? Will they really make me a better developer?

Feel free to recommend other books, or argue about other books on Jeff's list, but keep in mind my question about these two in particular :)

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After 5 years, one can think like an architecture instead of just a normal coder, so don't try to get the books you don't have. First finish the books you already have. Because almost every book will teach you some thing good. It is up to you that how you learn from them. And don't fill your shelf with many books intead, first read what you already have. –  Hafiz Aug 1 '11 at 17:26

4 Answers 4

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Great ! Some more affiliates money for SO ;)

In Jeff's books, buy Peopleware, Design Web Usability, The Pragmatic Programmer & The Mythical Man-Month

In addition of what is suggested in the Coding Horror blog post:

Seriously, read them all, not just two or three... ALL

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Hmm, did you omit Code Complete on purpose or is it just a glitch in your post? :) I do plan on reading all of them (or at least most of them), but I'm not sure if these two are a good way to start. I will check your recommendations of course :) –  dr Hannibal Lecter Oct 7 '10 at 9:47
I didn't read it. So I can't give my opinion on it. But looks like many people love it, so... this may be a good choice too –  user2567 Oct 7 '10 at 10:10
That's fair enough. I've read a few reviews where people claim that the MM-M is obsolete in terms of technology and that it tends to be distracting. Did you notice this while reading the book, and was it distracting? –  dr Hannibal Lecter Oct 7 '10 at 11:01
It's correct, but not for the whole content. I think it's still valuable, and since it's a classic, this is a must read. –  user2567 Oct 7 '10 at 11:15
@ThorbjørnRavnAndersen: Little late? :) I have bought the book and read it, it's really quite interesting in some places, even though some parts have not really aged well. Still worth it I think. –  dr Hannibal Lecter May 21 '12 at 9:59

I was disappointed with Code Complete. It covers tons of stuff superficially, but nothing well enough to have a big impact on how I write code.

I've heard many good recommendations for Uncle Bob's Clean Code, though. And Josh Bloch's Effective Java is important for any Java dev that knows enough to get his code to work.

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I agree with this sentiment regarding Code Complete. Anything useful in that book seemed entirely obvious and were practices I had already, long since, come to as a practicing programmer. –  qes Dec 17 '10 at 17:28

The books seems targetted towards UI developers and designers. You need to find out about your intrinsic drivers / motivation for a domain. Books can only help with cognitive aspects of your goals. Regarding self-improvement I also like the books by Carol Dweck (growth mindset), Malcolm Gladwell (outliers) and Talent is overrated. Regarding cognitive theories, I like the book by Howard Gardner on 5 mindsets.

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Your self-improvement recommendations seem really nice, but I feel you may have misunderstood my question. I'm not seeking general self-improvement, it's my software development I want to improve. In other words, I'd like to become a true, but humble, professional at my job. Let's face it - coding is easy. That's why we have billions of horrible code. But coding right, with brains and experience, now that's something else entirely.. :) –  dr Hannibal Lecter Oct 7 '10 at 17:24

Get and read The Art of Computer Programming.

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folklore.org/… :) –  Matthieu Dec 17 '10 at 16:32
ugh, huge waste of time. Unless formal proofs of algorithm complexity and whatnot are useful to your desired specialization in the field. –  qes Dec 17 '10 at 17:30
That might be overdoing it a bit. –  user1249 May 21 '12 at 7:36
Why? What's so special about it? Please elaborate. –  Dynamic Aug 14 '12 at 3:47

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