Best Programming Books – For Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs
What books do the best programmers read to stay up-to-date with the latest in the continually changing environment of software development? How do they know which books are really worth their time, and which are nothing more than simple side pleasures?
To some, the best programming books are those that can be easily referenced when they’re stuck in the code. These types of reference materials are, to be certain, some of the most valuable books to have on hand. The internet, however, is often a more easily accessible reference guide in situations like this.
So, what kinds of programming books exist? Beyond reference books, many books help people, like me, understand how programming works at a higher level. Programming is not just about the code, but it is also about what the code creates and how that creation will be used.
Almost anyone can find a snippet of code, copy it, and paste it into place. With luck, it will function properly on its own. Whether or not that code can be created to work with specific intentions will depend on how well the programmer understands the code’s language and syntax.
I’ve found that the best books are those that blend introducing new, concrete knowledge with examples with more abstract ideas that must be addressed while programming.
From foundational books to reference books, from career guidance books to efficiency books, there is a huge variety of content about programming available to programmers who are ready to do more.
Are you one of those programmers? I know I am. Today’s list, though, was not created by me.
It was curated by the ideas, thoughts, and knowledge-base of the amazing CEO Library community. Experienced developers and programmers shared their insight into what are the best programming books, and this is what they recommend:
Best Programming Books
I love the poets. Poetry is kind of like programming–it’s densifying very abstract concepts into a medium that allows interpretation. People can make the work their own and have better, more creative answers in life. Really anything that helps us reflect a bit more interests me.
Whitman’s also an interesting character, a total entrepreneur. He self-published 35,000 copies of Leaves of Grass. He was publishing it during the time of the Civil War and it’s an edgy, questioning book. It questions racial equality, sexual equality, gender equality, all in one work. And he kept changing it until he died–adding to it, editing it, and republishing it. Most people read the last version but I think the first version is actually the best.
The efficiency of every line in that poem, much like great programming, is stunning.
One specific book that had a big impact on me when I was young and studying in France was "An autobiography" by David Ogilvy. Turns out this guy was a successful chef at 20, and a loser at 25, and again a successful person at 30 and then a loser at 35, and then he founded "Ogilvy & Mather" and became successful again at 40.
It's a short book, I read it in one night. Turns out, doing things your way may be difficult sometimes, but if you keep doing what you think is right and learn from your mistakes and successes, everything will be alright in the end. I was wondering whether to stay in France and settle for a developer job (though I did not like programming very much) or return to Romania and start something on my own (I did not know what exactly). I made the right decision to return.
- The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Scrum and XP from the Trenches by Henrik Kniberg
- ReWork – Jason Fried
This critique of the computational theory of mind and the pan-adaptionist tradition is clearly so honest that it goes after the ideas promoted by Fodor's own 1983 watershed book "The Modularity of Mind". In brief the essay is an attack on massive modularity by saying that there are things after all that escape the programming (encapsulation and opacity are key: how can we talk about something OPAQUE? We know nothing about a few critical things...).
Granted the book is horribly written (that is Fodor's charm after all) but his argumentation is so ferocious that he ends up loud & clear.
The man is critical of his own ideas, and of the current in thought that he he helped create --one may use Fodor-1 against Fodor-2. Perhaps persons I hold in highest respect are those who go after their own ideas!
Bravo Fodor. Even if I do not agree I can't help admiring the man.
As a general rule, most new memoirs are mediocre and most business memoirs are even worse. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an exception to that rule in every way and as a result, was one of my favorite books of the year and favorite business books ever. I started reading it while on the runway of a flight and figured I’d read a few pages before opening my laptop and working. Instead, my laptop stayed in my bag during the flight and I read almost the entire book in one extended sitting. Ostensibly the memoir of the founder of Nike, it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company that changes sports forever. I’m not sure if Knight used a ghostwriter (the acknowledgements are unclear) but his personal touches are all over the book—and the book itself is deeply personal and authentic. The afterward is an incredibly moving reflection of a man looking back on his life. I loved this book. It ends just as Nike is starting to turn into the behemoth it would become, so I hold out hope that there may be more books to follow.
- The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past) by Cixin Liu
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, Steven Goldfeder