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Jordi Enric
Jordi Enric

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

4 Books that are not about computers that made me a good Software Developer

I enjoy reading and learning about Software Development but if I spend half my day working as a Software Dev and the other half reading about Software Development I end up burning out and not doing any reading for a while.

What I do is read about other things. Sometimes it happens that whatever I'm reading about helps me with aspects of my career. These are the books that helped me the most so far.

1. A mind for numbers by Barbara Oakley

If you ever think that you're not "good with numbers" or letters or whatever, read this. It will teach you how you learn.

2. So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport

Taught me the value of becoming an expert in something and all the ways it pays off. Motivated me to focus on Frontend Development.

3. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I should read this one once a year. It taught me that the hard part is sitting down to do a job, not doing it itself. If you have procrastination problems I recommend this one.

4. Show your work by Austin Kleon

I learned to keep track of the work I was doing and showing it to the world no matter how imperfect it was. Thanks to doing that I got my job as a SD.

If you know any other books not related directly to software development that helped you please share them :)

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Top comments (29)

eljayadobe profile image
Eljay-Adobe • Edited

I wasn't even aware of any of those books. They're on my book queue now!

Here's my four non-computer books that I have helped my programming:

  • The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition) by Gary Gygax, et al
  • To Do Doing Done by Snead & Wycoff
ddaypunk profile image
Andy Delso

I am curious what you learned from AD&D? Good list!

eljayadobe profile image

I learned how to work as a team. And to communicate with others in a group, over long periods of time, arguing minutia of ambiguous rules (sometimes genuinely ambiguous, other times merely misunderstood). Without everything devolving into fisticuffs.

Thread Thread
ddaypunk profile image
Andy Delso

Cool cool, sounds about right for DnD! I like how you related it to business teams as I’d never thought of it.

ulisesescamilla profile image
Ulises Escamilla

Yeah! I'm also interested

tonypelliccio profile image
Tony Pellicccio

I've read Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things too. Plus I've read a lot about the history of the Bell System, or the Internet for that matter. Plus read about Kevin Mitnick and his story.

umakantv profile image
Umakant Vashishtha

The Goal is a great book!

jordienr profile image
Jordi Enric

Thanks for sharing. I’ll add them to my list 🙏🏻

davedecahedron profile image
David Howell • Edited

Great list. One I always think about is “To engineer is human” by Henry Petroski. It’s about sudden catastrophic failures in large engineering projects like bridges or building structures. Generally architecture and civil engineering are overused analogies in computer engineering however this book made me think more about failure, the importance of failures in producing better design and my overall approach to defensive software development. It’s an older book but I read it only in the last few years and I think it is timeless.

tonypelliccio profile image
Tony Pellicccio

Others that might interest you is Midnight in Chernobyl and how the Soviet beauracracy really screwed up. Another good book is called "The Adolescense of P-1"

hesbonomanjo profile image

Thanks for sharing. I have not come across the other books but War of Art - I was so absorbed by the delivery that I finished reading the book in 1 day... I still plan to refer to it again and again.

Just one more book to add to the list:
The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout.

m_hentges profile image
Michael Hentges
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
  • The One Minute Manager - Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson
  • First, Break all the Rules - Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman
  • Who Moved My Cheese - Spencer Johnson

Code Complete - Robert Martin, probably doesn't count as a "non computer" book, but its most important lesson for me was that there was a "professional" way of being a programmer - the "code" part of the book was secondary.

eddsaura profile image
Jose E Saura

I loved The War of Art, it really made a change on how I see creative work, but still hard to implement. The simplest things are the harder.

I truly recommend you, as I see you are spanish as me, Invicto from Marcos Vazquez. I swear to god man, just go for it.


jordienr profile image
Jordi Enric

Will do, gracias 🙏🏻

whiteadi profile image
Adrian Albu

my list:
Love & Other Demons - Marquez
A Hundred Years of Solitude - Marquez
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
John Steinbeck
J. D. Salinger
The Castle - Kafka
Grass Harp - Truman Capote
The Perfume - Patrick Suskind
Game of Thrones
Lord of Flies - William Golding
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Veniss Underground -Jeff VanderMeer
Perdido Street Station - China Mieville (is a trilogy so get the other 2 also if you like the first …)
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
World War Z - Max Brooks
Silo (3 Book Series) - Hugh Howey
A Raven's Shadow (3 Book Series) - Anthony Ryan

robole profile image
Rob OLeary • Edited

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman is a wonderful book that you can read a very short chapter each day. It's very insightful. In a similar vain, Aesop's Fables can help raise your emotionall intelligence.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain gave me a lot clarity on introversion/extroversion. It gives good examples of people tailoring activities and interactions to their personality type and being effective in different contexts.

The Undercover Economist and Freakonomics has made me think more deeply about data analysis and behavioral patterns.

sivaneshs profile image
Sivanesh Shanmugam • Edited

@jordienr me too felt the exact same. Thanks for your recommendations. For me personally, this book kick-started a steady career for me "The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)"
by Seth Godin
It helped me choose the way I study and the way I chose my career path. Really helped.

ryanroat profile image
Ryan Roat

A book recently recommended to me which I need to pick up my copy on hold at the library - Algorithms to live by : the computer science of human decisions.

I enjoy Cal Newport's work. I've read/listened to a couple books, Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. I've got A World Without Email (not as drastic as it sounds, about stemming the tide of constant interruption and context switching) in my queue and just borrowed So Good... from my local library. I also highly recommend Cal's Deep Questions podcast.

The other books look really intriguing as well.

Thanks for the suggestions!

raphael_jambalos profile image
Raphael Jambalos

Awesome list! So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport seems like an interesting read. Thanks for the reco!

persimone profile image

I am thinking the exact same thing :)

creeptonian profile image
Aaditya Deshmukh

Great list. I loved The War of Art too!

crywolfe profile image
Gerry Wolfe

So Good They Can't Ignore You may be my favorite career book of all time... practical and directly applicable to any career.

kaspermroz profile image
Kasper Mróz

I was looking for a list of books like this, thank you for this post!

nuh profile image
nūh ben

I would add the book by Anton Speraul: Think like a programmer

maxiqboy profile image
Thinh Nguyen

Thanks for your awesome list, will try to read all of them,

I read two books from Cal Newport : Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism,

They are also amazing books,