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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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Read the source material... eventually

Lately I've had a bit of a renaissance in my intake of software development literature. I've been taking the time to read the canonical source of concepts which I'd previously consumed through distillation.

The "distillation" process is extremely important. It's vital for the industry that ideas spread naturally, get mixed around and presented in different ways for different use cases. This is the purpose of a lot of posts on I could never take the time to read the papers or books which inspire the great posts I read on a daily basis. But it is very worth getting to it eventually.

It can be discouraging to read materials that are above your understanding in a topic. I think it's perfectly reasonable to skip over the source material and gain the wisdom in bits and pieces as you go. But once you're reasonably comfortable with the concepts, going back and reading the deeper take or the original reference material is an incredibly illuminating activity.

Some people can just pick up a paper or book and read it for its value whenever they feel like it. Many others really need to proper headspace to find the material valuable. The pattern of consuming the byte-sized chunks and following up eventually with the deeper source material has been wonderful for me. Lengthier (or dryer) reads are a tough way to get introduced to a topic for me, but a great way to extend knowledge once I'm comfortable.

I'm writing this post because for a while it didn't occur to me to read books on subjects I was already comfortable with. If you don't read a lot of software books or papers, I suggest seeking out materials that do not introduce you to new subjects but instead help enrich concepts that you've been exposed to here and there for a while.

Top comments (3)

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Shhhh, can't have too many people looking at books...

...totally unbiased opinion from an online article writer who's not got enough time to format them as a book. ;)

wyatt profile image
Wyatt Lee Chastain

Absolutely agree. I remember being fresh out of college and picking up all the canonical books and trying to make my way through them. It just didn't stick as well as it should have and, worse, the feeling of not understanding everything made me doubt myself. Aren't these books for good programmers?

Years later, I'm doing the same thing: going back and reading the books people always say you should read. Now I've dealt with situations where the concepts would have been useful and it's been great.

edinaldopsj profile image

I've always had this lack of knowledge for the terms when I started, so I went back to tutorials and other friends to help me.
Now that I'm more comfortable with all the development envirorment, going back to books that once I thought was too complicated is SO rewarding and necessary !

And please, share the books or another source materials that made you feel that way! As well as the other people commenting here !