27 books like Proving Ground

By Kathy Kleiman,

Here are 27 books that Proving Ground fans have personally recommended if you like Proving Ground. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Labyrinths

MK Raghavendra Author Of The Writing of the Nation by Its Elite: The Politics of Anglophone Indian Literature in the Global Age

From my list on The most incisive writing - political, critical and interdisciplinary.

Why am I passionate about this?

As Iago says in Shakespeare’s Othello, “I am nothing if not critical,” and regardless of what he meant, it applies to me - my intelligence works best at scrutinizing things for their significance. I studied science, worked in the financial sector, read fiction, watched cinema, and developed a sense of the interconnectedness of things. If the connections existed, I thought, there could be no one way of approaching anything; all intellectual paths were valid and the only criterion of value was that it must be intelligent. My book tries to stick to this since a writer may hold any opinions, but he or she must show intelligence.

MK's book list on The most incisive writing - political, critical and interdisciplinary

MK Raghavendra Why did MK love this book?

JL Borges is, in my view, the greatest literary mind of the 20th Century.

This is a book of stories, philosophical essays and parables, but even when he is writing fiction, his favoured form is that of the mock critical essay about a non-existent book or writer.

What I especially love about him is his wit, subtle and easily missed since it often takes the shape of philosophical rumination when he is actually debunking something held very highly. My natural mode of expression is irony, and Borges’s irony is inimitable.      

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Labyrinths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has been insinuating itself into the structure, stance, and very breath of world literature for well over half a century. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco's international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges' fiction "The Library," which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths.

This new edition of Labyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges' writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations…


Book cover of Chaos: Making a New Science

Aram Sinnreich Author Of The Secret Life of Data: Navigating Hype and Uncertainty in the Age of Algorithmic Surveillance

From my list on books about data that will blow your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t explain my lifelong fascination with the strange dance between culture, power, and technology. Maybe it’s because I grew up as a math whiz with a deep love of music or because I read too much sci-fi under my blanket by flashlight when I should have been getting my beauty sleep. I was lucky to become friends with Jesse Gilbert at the age of 14 - we goaded each other into spending our lives researching, writing about, and playing with tech in a cultural context. We wrote this book together as a way to bring our decades-long dialogue into the public eye and invite a wider range of people to participate in the conversation.

Aram's book list on books about data that will blow your mind

Aram Sinnreich Why did Aram love this book?

My friend Jesse Gilbert handed me his copy of Chaos in 1992 or 1993, shortly after he read it for a college class. “You have to read this book,” he insisted. “I need to talk about it with you.”

Chaos theory, which is the subject of Gleick’s nonfiction book, has become such a dominant trope in global fiction, the popular imagination, and meme culture that younger folks probably don’t realize how completely new this way of thinking was for most of us when the book was first published in 1987.

In the 1980s, science fiction and popular tech narratives were all about robots and spaceships, with a heavy dose of late-Cold War nuclear anxiety. Then Gleick published Chaos. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was interested in fractals, parallel universes, and virtual worlds. The concepts of bounded infinities and multi-dimensional topographies opened up not just new types of narratives but…

By James Gleick,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Chaos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uncover one of the most exciting frontiers of modern physics in this fascinating, insightful and accessible overview of Chaos theory.

'An exceedingly readable introduction to a new intellectual world' Observer

From the turbulence of the weather to the complicated rythmns of the human heart, 'chaos' is at the centre of our day to day lives. Cutting across several scientific disciplines, James Gleick explores and elucidates the science of the unpredicatable with an immensely readable narrative style and flair.

'An awe-inspiring book. Reading Chaos gave me the sensation that someone had just found the light-switch' Douglas Adams


Book cover of The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World with No Off Switch

Aram Sinnreich Author Of The Secret Life of Data: Navigating Hype and Uncertainty in the Age of Algorithmic Surveillance

From my list on books about data that will blow your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t explain my lifelong fascination with the strange dance between culture, power, and technology. Maybe it’s because I grew up as a math whiz with a deep love of music or because I read too much sci-fi under my blanket by flashlight when I should have been getting my beauty sleep. I was lucky to become friends with Jesse Gilbert at the age of 14 - we goaded each other into spending our lives researching, writing about, and playing with tech in a cultural context. We wrote this book together as a way to bring our decades-long dialogue into the public eye and invite a wider range of people to participate in the conversation.

Aram's book list on books about data that will blow your mind

Aram Sinnreich Why did Aram love this book?

Full disclosure: Laura DeNardis is a good friend and former colleague of mine. But I was a fan before I was a friend, and thus far, The Internet In Everything is her crowning achievement, so I feel very comfortable listing it here as an absolute must-read.

When Laura told me she was going to write this book, my first thought was, “I wish I’d thought of that!” and my second thought, a nanosecond later, was, “Thank goodness I didn’t because she’ll do it a million times better.”

DeNardis is the reigning monarch of Internet Governance Studies, meaning she researches all the weird laws, policies, technologies, businesses, agencies, and practices that have built the internet and keep it ticking. You’d think the subject would be boring or impenetrable to us mere mortals, but her genius is in making it not only understandable but downright fascinating.

She understands the internet the way…

By Laura DeNardis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Internet in Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling argument that the Internet of things threatens human rights and security

"Sobering and important."-Financial Times, "Best Books of 2020: Technology"

The Internet has leapt from human-facing display screens into the material objects all around us. In this so-called Internet of things-connecting everything from cars to cardiac monitors to home appliances-there is no longer a meaningful distinction between physical and virtual worlds. Everything is connected. The social and economic benefits are tremendous, but there is a downside: an outage in cyberspace can result not only in loss of communication but also potentially in loss of life.

Control of this…


Book cover of Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures

Aram Sinnreich Author Of The Secret Life of Data: Navigating Hype and Uncertainty in the Age of Algorithmic Surveillance

From my list on books about data that will blow your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t explain my lifelong fascination with the strange dance between culture, power, and technology. Maybe it’s because I grew up as a math whiz with a deep love of music or because I read too much sci-fi under my blanket by flashlight when I should have been getting my beauty sleep. I was lucky to become friends with Jesse Gilbert at the age of 14 - we goaded each other into spending our lives researching, writing about, and playing with tech in a cultural context. We wrote this book together as a way to bring our decades-long dialogue into the public eye and invite a wider range of people to participate in the conversation.

Aram's book list on books about data that will blow your mind

Aram Sinnreich Why did Aram love this book?

André Brock gives no fucks and takes none. As an academic, so many of the books I read—even the good ones—are couched in cautious language and speak from an imaginary non-place of dispassionate objectivity. Brock throws all that out the window and writes an impassioned, embodied, joyful, agitated, confusing, brilliant, opinionated, insightful, and ultimately, empirically supportable book, in his own unmistakable voice, about how and why Black people use the internet.

Though the book has many valuable findings and has already changed the practice of internet studies since its publication, the thing I love most about it is Brock’s own playfulness and his celebration of the social and political value of playfulness.

His key point is that data aren’t objective or neutral and that computing machines aren’t cold and calculating (even if that’s their job). Data and computers, he argues, are made by people and used by people, and the…

By Andre Brock, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Distributed Blackness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2021 Harry Shaw and Katrina Hazzard-Donald Award for Outstanding Work in African-American Popular Culture Studies, given by the Popular Culture Association
Winner, 2021 Nancy Baym Annual Book Award, given by the Association of Internet Researchers

An explanation of the digital practices of the Black Internet
From BlackPlanet to #BlackGirlMagic, Distributed Blackness places Blackness at the very center of internet culture. Andre Brock Jr. claims issues of race and ethnicity as inextricable from and formative of contemporary digital culture in the United States. Distributed Blackness analyzes a host of platforms and practices (from Black Twitter to Instagram, YouTube, and app…


Book cover of 97 Things Every Java Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts

Jeanne Boyarsky Author Of OCP Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 17 Developer Study Guide: Exam 1Z0-829

From my list on becoming a better Java developer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed mentoring folks whether new or experienced in programming. Whether it is teaching an intern or a high school robotics student, or onboarding an experienced Java developer, it brings me joy to see people learn. I also love to read. Being able to recommend some of my favorite books can help even more people absorb all of this information.

Jeanne's book list on becoming a better Java developer

Jeanne Boyarsky Why did Jeanne love this book?

When trying to become a better Java developer, there is so much to learn.

97 Things covers, well 97, of them in a series of brief essays. What’s cool is that the essays were written by different people so you get lots of points of view on what is important. Topics range from language (comments, fat jars) to the ecosystem (benchmarking, frequent releases) to the language-agnostic (definition of done and breaking down problems.)

Note that two of these are mine. The book is thin at just over 200 pieces. And since each “thing” is short, it’s easy to read on the go.

By Kevlin Henney, Trisha Gee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 97 Things Every Java Programmer Should Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you want to push your Java skills to the next level, this book provides expert advice from Java leaders and practitioners. You'll be encouraged to look at problems in new ways, take broader responsibility for your work, stretch yourself by learning new techniques, and become as good at the entire craft of development as you possibly can

Edited by Kevlin Henney and Trisha Gee, 97 Things Every Java Programmer Should Know reflects lifetimes of experience writing Java software and living with the process of software development. Great programmers share their collected wisdom to help you rethink Java practices, whether…


Book cover of The Imposter's Handbook: A CS Primer for Self-taught Developers

John Z. Sonmez Author Of Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual

From my list on fun for software developers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to expand my knowledge and learn not just about new technologies, but how things work. I find it fascinating to dig deep into computer programming, technology concepts, and really geek out on things. That’s why I love software development or programming books that aren’t just about some technology and how to do something, but rather books that really make you think and teach you not just programming skills but critical thinking about problem-solving skills. As a software developer for over 15 years and a person who teaches software developers, I have learned that if someone isn’t entertained, they aren’t learning. That’s why I put together a list of fun, entertaining and useful books.

John's book list on fun for software developers

John Z. Sonmez Why did John love this book?

Wow! This book is exactly what every programmer has always wanted to know or even felt guilty about not knowing and it’s all presented in an extremely simplified and fun way. 

This is one of those books where you get excited in the morning when you wake up because you know you are going to be able to read more in the book and you are hoping the book will never end.

It’s rare to find a big book that I enjoyed reading so much and felt so short. This book covers almost everything you ever wondered about computer science. After reading this book, I felt like I finally understood everything a programmer was supposed to know and I no longer felt that nagging feeling of being an imposter.

By Rob Conery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Imposter's Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Daemon

Michael C. Bland Author Of The Price of Safety

From my list on a future we probably want to avoid.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father wanted to be an astrophysicist, and as a kid I caught his passion for the future from the many science fiction books he’d left throughout our house. As an adult, the advances in technology have brought the future envisioned in those books closer than ever. My passion for what awaits us led me to write The Price of Safety, which contains innovations that are right around the corner—and have already started to come true (which is freaky), between Elon Musk’s cranial implants to DNA tracking. The world we live in is becoming more like the world in my books. I hope we’re ready! 

Michael's book list on a future we probably want to avoid

Michael C. Bland Why did Michael love this book?

Suarez’s debut novel focuses on an all too real possibility of our future—and the dangers we could face.

Daemon warns of our reliance on computers as he tells a fast-paced story about a massive software program that awakens and initiates a terrible plan no one can decipher. We seem to accept that computers are programmed with our best interest in mind, though few truly know everything hidden in those endless lines of code.

Suarez shows the dangers of that near-blind acceptance. Knowledge is power. In Daemon, this tenant is taken to the extreme, with an artificial intelligence holding all the cards. It’s a future we might already be facing but don’t realize yet. 

By Daniel Suarez,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Daemon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Matthew Sobol is dead, but his final creation survives.

It begins with a bizarre murder, where the only possible perpetrator happens to be dead. As more killings follow, the police are completely out of their depth. It falls to the unlikely partnership of Sebeck, a computer-illiterate cop, and Ross, an enigmatic hacker, to realise the scale of the imminent danger.

The Daemon is seemingly unstoppable, and murder is the least of its capabilities. As it leaves a trail of death and destruction in its wake, Sebeck and Ross must face up to a terrifying possibility. Can they convince a disbelieving…


Book cover of How to Write for the World of Work

Rod Stephens Author Of Beginning Software Engineering

From my list on making you a better software developer.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my career, I’ve worked on projects large and small (1 - 60+ people) in a wide variety of fields (like repair dispatch, ticket sales, and professional football coaching--the NFL kind not the FIFA kind). All of them, and particularly the big ones, were like antique clocks: they had lots of moving pieces and if any piece broke, the whole thing wouldn’t work. (Unfortunately, failed software projects don’t look nice on your mantelpiece.) In this list, I’ve tried to pick some books that you might not discover if you look only for programming books. Read those, too, but don’t ignore the more human-oriented dimensions of software development. Hopefully you’ll find these choices interesting and useful.

Rod's book list on making you a better software developer

Rod Stephens Why did Rod love this book?

When people think about software engineering they mostly think about programming, but that’s not where a project starts. It starts with requirements.

(Really it sometimes starts with company politics, bickering, excuses, and backstabbing, but requirements gathering is often the official start.)

A good set of requirements keeps developers pulling in the same direction; a bad one can make the team inefficient, cause endless arguments, set developers against each other, and make the project feel like Lord of the Flies. I’ve seen projects scrapped and restarted from scratch or even canceled due to poor documentation.

Every software developer should know at least a little about writing so they can produce clear requirements and documentation.

This book isn’t specifically about writing documentation (which is something of an art in itself), but it can help you learn how to make your business writing more effective. This book won’t turn you into Shakespeare,…

By Donald H. Cunningham, Thomas E. Pearsall, Elizabeth O. Smith

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Write for the World of Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Designed for advanced professional, technical or business writing courses, this concise text covers basic principles, correspondence and reports, and provides a guide to common problems.


Book cover of The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers

Jesse Liberty Author Of Git for Programmers: Master Git for effective implementation of version control for your programming projects

From my list on for creating great software.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been coding for over 30 years. I’ve seen some miserable interfaces, and some large programs that collapse under their own weight. Software was, at one point, notorious for being late, over budget, and unreliable. These books have helped turn the corner on these failings, and I have found each of them very valuable in my day-to-day programming. While you can learn technique and even languages online, the kind of insight found in these books is rare and worth spending time and money on.

Jesse's book list on for creating great software

Jesse Liberty Why did Jesse love this book?

Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin is the recognized go-to person for books on creating quality code. This is the first in a series of books that include The Clean Coder, Clean Architecture, and a number more. His advice and guidance in Clean Code have made a significant difference in my personal coding habits and best practices. This is an indispensable book for all programmers, no matter what they are coding or how much experience they have

By Robert C. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Clean Coder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Programmers who endure and succeed amidst swirling uncertainty and nonstop pressure share a common attribute: They care deeply about the practice of creating software. They treat it as a craft. They are professionals.



In The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers, legendary software expert Robert C. Martin introduces the disciplines, techniques, tools, and practices of true software craftsmanship. This book is packed with practical advice-about everything from estimating and coding to refactoring and testing. It covers much more than technique: It is about attitude. Martin shows how to approach software development with honor, self-respect, and pride; work…


Book cover of Becoming a Better Programmer: A Handbook for People Who Care About Code

Chris Zimmerman Author Of The Rules of Programming: How to Write Better Code

From my list on programming for people who want to be good at it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent most of my life writing code—and too much of that life teaching new programmers how to write code like a professional. If it’s true that you only truly understand something after teaching it to someone else, then at this point I must really understand programming! Unfortunately, that understanding has not led to an endless stream of bug-free code, but it has led to some informed opinions on programming and books about programming.

Chris' book list on programming for people who want to be good at it

Chris Zimmerman Why did Chris love this book?

I’ve read a lot of books about programming; very few of them have made me laugh. None made me laugh as much as this book.

There’s one chapter where… nah, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Plus it has cartoons! Obviously, none of that would matter unless it also had interesting things to say about the practice of programming, but it’s packed full of interesting perspectives on all sorts of issues, from team dynamics to thinking about your career to an explicit consideration of the ethics of programming.

When we make games at Sucker Punch, we aim to “surprise and delight” the player—and that’s exactly what this book did for me.

By Pete Goodliffe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming a Better Programmer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you're passionate about programming and want to get better at it, you've come to the right source. Code Craft author Pete Goodliffe presents a collection of useful techniques and approaches to the art and craft of programming that will help boost your career and your well-being. Goodliffe presents sound advice that he's learned in 15 years of professional programming. The book's standalone chapters span the range of a software developer's life - dealing with code, learning the trade, and improving performance - with no language or industry bias. Whether you're a seasoned developer, a neophyte professional, or a hobbyist,…


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