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Calvin Torra
Calvin Torra

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Why new developers should read 5000 lines of code a week

Reading massive volumes of text and code gives you exposure to patterns of language that will make you a better developer.

Reading gives you new ways to think and reason.

Reading Books helps to organise your thoughts on a topic.

Reading Code helps to recognise what good code looks like.

Once you’ve committed to reading large volumes of text, you’ll start to see patterns and that’s what humans do best “Pattern Matching”.

“You can’t think a thought if you don’t have the language to represent it.“


After consuming several books on one topic you’ll quickly notice that they’re all kind of the same – There’s not a lot of variation in the important points that they cover.

A lot of books that we read can be chopped from 400 pages to about 50 if you trim the fat and unimportant stuff.

With Skimming, you’re aiming to gain massive exposure, overlook tiny details and find patterns within your topic of choice.

  • 1000 pages of printed text (books)
  • 5000 lines of code (code repos)

You’re looking for what you don’t know that you didn’t know.

You can’t read each word on every page

You’ll slow yourself down and lose momentum fighting your way through the fluff.

but you’re creating a mental library to know exactly where to find the information you need, when you need it.

In order to consume 2-300 pages of content an hour you need a strategy.

This is where learning how to read a book becomes useful, which I’ll cover in another post.

Absorb Best Practices

You’ll quickly notice that a lot of professionally written javascript (for example) is structured very similarly.

The way developers set up a React component or an Express server.

The styles you see come from industry accepted best practices.

Best practices that come from years in the industry, best practices that you can pick up much faster just by looking at enough high quality examples.

You’ll start to recognise syntax that you wasn’t aware of, indentation rules, folder structure, variable and function naming techniques.

The same way an artist studies the greats that came before them.

They develop a sensitivity of what good art should look like.

You can quickly develop the same sensitivity of what good, clean and coherent code should look like in your chosen stack.

When you see bad code, something will feel slightly off, even uncomfortable.

Collect & Reference

This is where tools come in to play with how you choose to save this information and reference it later.

Some people use Evernote or Notion, other’s use private Gists.

You need to find your own way of quickly accessing the information you know exists, as and when you need it.

Absorbing large volumes of text and code will

  • Expose you to important, recurring patterns
  • Highlight important repeated information
  • Expand your vocabulary to think more clearly on a given topic.
  • Place you head and shoulders above those that don’t read about their industry at all.

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