The most recommended books for programmers

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to programmers, and here are their favorite programmer books.
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Book cover of Daemon

Michael C. Bland Author Of The Price of Safety

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

Who am I?

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 Programming Pearls

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

From my list on fun for software developers.

Who am I?

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?

Even though this book is a bit older, I had a ton of fun doing the programming problems in this book. This book really makes you think outside the box as a programmer and try to solve various problems in different ways depending on what you are trying to optimize for.

I really learned a lot about not just solving a problem, but solving a problem for a specific set of goals. Overall it made me a better programmer and made me think more deeply about programming problems.

If you want to improve your problem-solving skills and have fun doing it, I would definitely recommend this book.

By Jon Bentley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When programmers list their favourite books, Jon Bentley's collection of programming pearls is commonly included among the classics. Just as natural pearls grow from grains of sand that irritate oysters, programming pearls have grown from real problems that have irritated real programmers. With origins beyond solid engineering, in the realm of insight and creativity, Bentley's pearls offer unique and clever solutions to those nagging problems. Illustrated by programs designed as much for fun as for instruction, the book is filled with lucid and witty descriptions of practical programming techniques and fundamental design principles. It is not at all surprising that…


Book cover of Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

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

From my list on fun for software developers.

Who am I?

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?

I love writing good clean code. There is something refreshing about writing or reading code that reads more like a book than some obscure instructions to a machine. This book goes into the details of how to write “clean code” and what makes it clean.

I felt like I learned so much about writing good code from reading this book about things that you are never really taught in school or on the job as a software developer.

I found so much of the book so interesting because I could use what I was learning right away to become a better programmer.

If you want to become a better programmer and are looking for a book that will entertain you and be fun along the way, I highly recommend Clean Code.

By Robert Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Even bad code can function. But if code isn't clean, it can bring a development organization to its knees. Every year, countless hours and significant resources are lost because of poorly written code. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Noted software expert Robert C. Martin presents a revolutionary paradigm with Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship. Martin has teamed up with his colleagues from Object Mentor to distill their best agile practice of cleaning code "on the fly" into a book that will instill within you the values of a software craftsman and make you a…


Book cover of Software Tools in Pascal

Arnold Robbins Author Of Linux Programming by Example

From my list on for learning the Zen of Unix.

Who am I?

I am a professional software developer and technical author, with a number of books published by O’Reilly and Prentice Hall. I have been working in the C / C++ / Unix / Linux world for over four decades. I am also the maintainer of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Awk interpreter for the awk programming language. I have a passion for writing clear, correct, efficient, and portable code, and for applying the UNIX and Software Tools principles in my development. I hope that this book list will help you climb the learning curve of doing great Unix / Linux development.

Arnold's book list on for learning the Zen of Unix

Arnold Robbins Why did Arnold love this book?

This book (an update to Software Tools by the same authors) codifies and instructs the principles by which the Unix / Linux toolset was designed. It emphasizes clear, robust code, and the building of tools, reusable, general purpose software components that can be hooked together to solve many kinds of programming and data management tasks. The lessons it teaches are timeless, and the current generation of programmers would be well served to try and learn them.

The original Software Tools was perhaps the single most influential software book that I ever read. It taught me how to think with the Unix mindset, how to make the best use of what the Unix system (and now Linux) offers, and how to focus on readability and maintainability in my own software.

By Brian Kernighan, P.J. Plauger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Software Tools in Pascal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the same style and clarity that characterized their highly acclaimed The Elements of Programming Style and Software Tools, the authors have written Software Tools in Pascal to teach how to write good Pascal programs that make good tools. The programs contained in the book are not artificial, but are actual tools that have proved valuable in the production of other programs. Structured programming and top-down design are emphasized and applied to every program, as are principles of sound design, testing, efficiency, and portability. All of the programs are complete and have been tested directly from the text. The programs…


Book cover of Mastering Django

Arun Ravindran Author Of Django Design Patterns and Modern Best Practices

From my list on Django for building solid web apps in Python.

Who am I?

I’ve been dabbling in Python for the last 22 years. I am a regular speaker at Pycon India ever since its inception. Most of my talks are related to Django. I host arunrocks.com where I write tutorials, and articles and publish screencasts on several Django and Python topics. My initial screencast titled "Building a blog in 30 mins with Django" is one of the most popular screencasts for beginners in Django. I’m a developer member of the Django Software Foundation.

Arun's book list on Django for building solid web apps in Python

Arun Ravindran Why did Arun love this book?

Another book with a detailed coverage of the Django web framework. This is a revised book written originally by Adrian Holovaty and Jacob Kaplan-Moss—the creators of Django themselves. Hence the initial chapters are an excellent in-depth description of how Django works. The remaining parts of the books go into intermediate and advanced topics.

By Nigel George,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mastering Django is the latest version of Mastering Django: Core—the original, best-selling programmer’s reference for Django.

Mastering Django is not just a revision of the original book—it has been completely rewritten from the ground up to meet the needs of modern Django programmers.

The main goal of this book is to make you a Django expert. By reading this book, you’ll learn the skills needed to develop powerful websites quickly, with code that is clean and easy to maintain.

This book is also a programmer’s manual that provides complete coverage of modern Django version 3 and above.

For developers creating…


Book cover of Test Driven Development: By Example

Jan Van Ryswyck Author Of Writing Maintainable Unit Tests: Mastering the Art of Loosely Coupled Unit Tests

From my list on starting your software developer journey.

Who am I?

I’m a professional software developer for more than 22 years now. I’ve used many programming languages, platforms, frameworks, etc. throughout my career. However, the only constant for me personally was the practice of Test-Driven Development. I’ve never stopped learning about the principles and practices behind it, and it paid huge dividends throughout my career. I’m very humbled and grateful to be able to learn from all those amazing people over the years, that I decided to write a book on the topic. Giving back some of the knowledge that I gathered about TDD throughout 18+ years. 

Jan's book list on starting your software developer journey

Jan Van Ryswyck Why did Jan love this book?

During the early years of my career as a software developer, I regularly developed very small programs that would exercise parts of the system that I was working on back then. I realized very quickly that those small programs would save me a lot of time figuring out whether the changes that I made would actually work or not. Until at some point a colleague mentioned the concept of Test-Driven Development. I first did some experimentation, dipping a toe into the water to feel the temperature. It wasn’t until the first time I picked up this book that I jumped right in. From then moment on, it all made sense. Although this book was published back in 2002, for me it still is the book when it comes to the subject of Test-Driven Development.      

By Kent Beck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Test Driven Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quite simply, test-driven development is meant to eliminate fear in application development. While some fear is healthy (often viewed as a conscience that tells programmers to "be careful!"), the author believes that byproducts of fear include tentative, grumpy, and uncommunicative programmers who are unable to absorb constructive criticism. When programming teams buy into TDD, they immediately see positive results. They eliminate the fear involved in their jobs, and are better equipped to tackle the difficult challenges that face them. TDD eliminates tentative traits, it teaches programmers to communicate, and it encourages team members to seek out criticism However, even the…


Book cover of Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective

Shimon Schocken Author Of The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

From my list on how computers work, and how they are built.

Who am I?

As a computer science professor and educator, my teaching motto is Rigor and Vigor. I believe that the only way to learn something deeply, whether it's an abstract mathematical argument or a complex computer system – is building the thing from the ground up, from first principles. That's the rigor. The second requirement – vigor – comes from the need to make this learning experience captivating, rewarding, empowering. I spent much of my career developing books, courses, and games that help learn computer science and mathematics with gusto. I am pleased that this work has had an impact, and that it resonates with many students and self-learners around the world.

Shimon's book list on how computers work, and how they are built

Shimon Schocken Why did Shimon love this book?

This weighty tome delves deep into the low-level working of computer programs.

This book is a great resource for professional programmers who work close to the machine in such fields as embedded software, cybersecurity, and device drivers. Assuming a basic knowledge of the C language, Bryant and O’Hallaron, two CMU professors, teach how to read and understand compiled code, how to optimize it for better performance, and how to avoid common pitfalls.

This is a hard-core technical book, written by engineers for engineers, in a dense style that is nonetheless accessible and practical. I like the numerous applied problems, each accompanied by a worked-out solution.

By Randal E. Bryant, David R. O'Hallaron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

&>standalone product; MasteringEngineering (R) does not come packaged with this content. If you would like to purchase both the physical text and MasteringEngineering search for 0134123832 / 9780134123837 Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective plus MasteringEngineering with Pearson eText - Access Card Package, 3/e

Package consists of:

013409266X/9780134092669 Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, 3/e 0134071921/9780134071923 MasteringEngineering with Pearson eText -- Standalone Access Card -- for Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, 3/e

MasteringEngineering should only be purchased when required by an instructor.

For courses in Computer Science and Programming

Computer systems: A Programmer's Perspective explains the underlying elements common among all computer…


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.

Who am I?

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 Margaret and the Moon

Sandra Nickel Author Of The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe

From my list on children’s books about astronomy.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s book author who writes stories about unexpected friends, women who did the impossible, people who are (almost) forgotten & ideas that seem too complicated until I find the right way to tell them.

Sandra's book list on children’s books about astronomy

Sandra Nickel Why did Sandra love this book?

Margaret and the Moon tells the story of Margaret Hamilton, who wrote the computer code that was key to the US first landing on the moon. The story is full of suspense. Margaret—not the astronauts—is the real hero of the story. But what is best about this book is that it is bursting with curiosity. Margaret wonders, Why are there only DADDY Longlegs? Why aren’t more girls scientists? How big is the moon? And with each of her questions, readers themselves became more and more curious! Isn’t that fabulous?!

By Dean Robbins, Lucy Knisley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Margaret and the Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A true story from one of the Women of NASA!

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have…


Book cover of Type-Driven Development with Idris

Enrico Buonanno Author Of Functional Programming in C#

From my list on to learn to think like a functional programmer.

Who am I?

I'm a programmer with a desire to constantly learn and improve. I have many years of experience in writing mission-critical software in highly event-driven areas such as FinTech and online auctions. Through interesting and challenging projects, I've always been fascinated by trying to generalize and abstract what it is that makes good code; so things like design patterns and best practices were just up my street. As I expanded this personal research, I found that functional programming provided many interesting techniques, but that many professionals in the industry were unaware of them. This is why I decided to show these techniques and their benefits to a wider audience through my book Functional Programming in C#.

Enrico's book list on to learn to think like a functional programmer

Enrico Buonanno Why did Enrico love this book?

For many years I did not question the validity of the language I was using, focussing instead on becoming good at getting it to do what was needed. It never occurred to me that, say, the type system could be flawed, causing extra work and allowing unnecessary bugs to seep in.

But what if, instead of writing validation code, you could define your types in a way that makes it impossible to create an invalid instance? What if you could define state transitions in such a way that a state machine cannot transition into an invalid state? These are indeed some of the things the Idris language allows.

In his book Type-Driven Development with Idris, Edwin Brady takes you through both the ideas of type-driven development, and how they're enabled in Iris. Iris looks a lot like Haskell, but better. It even has a unique solution for the complex issue…

By Edwin Brady,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Type-Driven Development with Idris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DESCRIPTION

Types are often seen as a tool for checking errors, with the

programmer writing a complete program first and using the type

checker to detect errors. And while tests are used to show presence of

errors, they can only find errors that you explicitly test for. In typedriven

development, types become your tools for constructing

programs and, used appropriately, can show the absence of errors. And

you can express precise relationships between data, your assumptions

are explicit and checkable, and you can precisely state and verify

properties. Type-driven development lets users write extensible code,

create simple specifications very early…