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Programmers Don't Read Books -- But You Should


As long as my bathroom doesn’t have a flat panel screen on the wall, I will read books. :wink:

The first computer book I had was ‘Beneath Apple DOS’!


I am a relatively young programmer, specialising in Actionscript.
It is unfortunate but true that alot of programmers of my generation do not read as much as they should. The good ones, really condense many years of wisdom and experience, allowing young programmers like me to improve on their craft very rapidly.

The consolidated concepts and ideas in books makes the knowledge more digestable, making the required leaps in thinking less painful for the uninitiated.

I do admit, that I have some programming pornography on my desk, but i feel that in this case some pornography is better than no books at all!

at the least it shows a respect for the knowledge that books can offer.


definitely, the text [about programmers not reading books] is present [in the original 1993 Code Complete]. It appears at the end of page 760.
Time machine? A citation from 1999 in a 1993 edition would indeed be prescient (-:

The 1993 edition of Code Complete cites ‘DeMarco and Lister 1987’, which is the first edition of Peopleware.


Unfortunately it’s a reciprocating problem. Programming books are written by programmers, and those that don’t read typically can’t write well.


I hate books.i just manipulate things up .


Interesting. If a physician said he/she didn’t own Gray’s Anatomy, or if a chemist said he/she din’t own the Rubber Bible, I’d lift an eyebrow. Knuth has the answers for most of your programming problems, superbly written, superbly typeset, and superbly bound. The 2nd editions are a pleasure to read, hold in one’s hands, and to drowse over at midnight. I’ve shown them to ME’s, EE’s, acountants, and attorneys, and the universal reaction has been astonishment that technical books could be so beatutiful.


What’s that between Defensive Design and Website Usability? Designing the Obvious?


When I look up a coding question on Google, I usually quickly get an answer to my question.

But when I read a book, I get the answers to a lot of questions that I haven’t even thought of asking yet.

Also, when I read a book online, all I get is a headache.

That’s a great list of books, but I wish fewer people had taken “The C Programming Language” literally and left us the legacy of two-character variable names.


I miss books that had personality. The books which were written explaining stuff. Not dumbing down, not hiding author’s ignorance, not throwing up a ton of reference-style pages. I remember Peter Norton’s book on PCs. It was that what made me intereted in computers at the time…


books that I’m currently reading

On lisp
Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming


For algorithms there is the book Introduction to Algorithms, and Part II Problem Solving of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. But for new technologies like user interfaces in Windows Forms it is hard to find good books, especially in Romania. And I also did not find a good practical book about the details of the software development (requirements gathering, scheduling, source control usage, debugging, testing and so on).


Good programmers write good code
Great programmers steal great code
Then who writes the great code? :stuck_out_tongue:


Business Analyst book recommendations

I have recently started publishing business analysis books. Thats the new thing Analyst do when the retire. These are easy how to guides and they are selling really well on lulu.com. I would like to invite you to visit my website )(www.echoicesolutions.com). On the services and products link you will find information on how to purchase electronic eAnalyst Redbooks. I priced them really low - 25.00. I guess that is why everyone is buying. I have and Introduction To Business Analysis and a Business Analysis Templates books. These books combined are great resources for conducting business analysis. I will like to get your thoughts.


I clicked the books you recommended (I owned 3 of them before reading this blogpost). Funny is that the Amazon’s page of Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering states that Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought and 3 others from your 5 follow. You are a powerfull blogger :-).


The low quality of many books is explained in this article by Philip Greenspun.

I don’t read so many boooks on programming now. Though I used. I try to focus my attention. For programming languages I look for the definitive books, not the Dummies Books. For how to program well in a language I look for the experts, like Scott Meyers.

Sadly I do not see the likes of P J Plauger or Jon Bentley anymore.

I used to follow the pragmatic guys and the agile guys, but they been publishing so many books ( compare to two or three really important books for Structured Programming )–makes me wonder if it’s all hype to promote themselves, their business and sell a lot of books.


Can anyone recommend any good books on embedded programming?


Indeed, there are books to read for everyone, no matter what you’re looking for. Take the bookshelves you presented, for example. Perfect for a programmer, I say.


Very very interesting and informative post !
Thanks keep writing such great posts


Im a novice programmer. I started out reading “beginning programming” in 24 hours. Cover to Cover. I felt like it really was a good into, even considering i couldn’t write 1 meaningful program in any language after reading it, but it was a foundation at least of the terminology. Then on to Python for dummies. It was fun, and i can now code basic stuff. I just get a little jealous of other tech geeks, who are really good at programming who claim they never took a single class or read one book… Where am i going wrong…? I will continue to read these posts for insight…


Nice list. Hey why all the hatred for the Perl for dummies author? I’m going to buy it just to see how bad it is! :slight_smile:

According to the comments of this post http://antoniocangiano.com/2009/08/15/do-programmers-still-buy-printed-books/ programmers (the good ones) still read books and they favour printed copies.

I know I do at least.