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Sandor Dargo
Sandor Dargo

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The best 8 books I read this year

I love reading. I read almost every morning and every night. It sets me for the day and it calms me down before going to sleep.

I try to read at least 2 books per month and it's becoming a tradition that I share with you the ones I liked the most in a given year.

This time, I pick 8, so it is about the best third. They are ordered by the date I read them, not by preference.

The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier

This book is a map helping you navigate through the different positions on the way up to the top of the software management ladder. So this book is not just about any type of managers, it is dedicated to managers working in software development. It covers position starting from the tech leads, through mid-management up to the position of CTO or VP of Engineering.

While this book serves as a guide for the managers, it helps you as a developer too to understand what tasks' they have to deal with, what are their main concerns. Let's not be blind, to become a senior engineer or software architect, you don't just have to be able to write good code, but you also need some leadership and management skills. This book can help you to steal some of their tricks and techniques.

More on it here.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

If you have a look at the list, you'll find books about development, leadership, management, philosophy and more. This book stands out in a  certain way. It's not something easy to read. I wouldn't even say entertaining.

I mean it's the memories of someone who survived the nazi concentration camps. (Next year maybe I'll have one about the Soviet camps.) While the surroundings were tragic, Viktor Frankl yet found a way not to keep complaining about the unsurvivable situations, but he uncovered a way through the trauma and find meaning in his existence. I think this book should be a must for everyone in particular for those who keep complaining and find life so difficult and hostile.

The second part of the books is more about logotherapy a form of psychotherapy that he developed after his return from the camps.

You can get it here.

Code Ahead by Yegor Bugayenko

Is this a novel? An autobiography? A technical book? It's all in one and I like this style. I like it so much, that I'm playing with the idea of following Yegor's path and write my own.

Code Ahead describes quite well how things go in software development - I tell you, it's not so great. At the same time, it's also a personal manifesto on how things should be organized.

If you know Yegor's blog, you know it very provocative. If you don't like that style, but you tend to agree with the contents, this book might be for you.

More on it here.

Driving Technical Change by Terrence Ryan

This book is for those who like to stand up and take the lead, for those who have ideas, for those who don't believe that something should be done in a way just because it's been like that for so long.

If you are such a person, you know that it's not enough to have ideas. You will face apathy at best, but more probably resistance. You need perseverance, but it's not enough. It makes no good repeating the old bad patterns and alienating friends and colleagues. You need understanding, techniques, strategies. Then you can go out and practice to change your world, that is - just remember! - others' world too. That's the point.

Driving Technical Change helps you learn how to take the initiative.

More on it here.

Your Code as a Crime Scene by Adam Tornhill

I had heard a lot about this book before I finally started to read it and it was definitely worth the buck. Though I haven't written a full review of it yet, I'll write one about this and the next book of Tornhill: Sofware Design X-Rays.

In short, Tornhill developed some tools that try to get as much information out of your version control system as possible. Applying the techniques he proposes, you can easily get reports on which parts of your codebase change the most (so where you should focus your testing efforts), and you can also learn about who are supposed to be the most knowledgeable people about the different parts of your code and what level of knowledge loss you'll suffer from if someone leaves.

You can get the book here and the Sofware Design X-Rays here.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss

Never split the difference is a great book on negotiations by a former international hostage negotiator from FBI. Christopher Voss shows us through various stories how and why hostage negotiation strategies changed over time at FBI where he was both a lead and an instructor. While at many points I felt that he was sharing stories with a too vehement pride - maybe it's more a cultural thing - ha also shared big failures.

We might think that hostage negotiation has nothing to do with your life, but he proves us wrong. The author shows how his tactics are or could/should be used in everyday situations.

More on it here.

Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking by Shane Snow

Smartcuts covers how to stimulate - mostly - professional development. Hence its subtitle is How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success.

By example, the author Shane Snow analyzes how certain successful people move seemingly faster to the top than others. And while there is no overnight success, you have to work hard to be among the best, there are ways to stand out and to arrive at the top a bit faster.

The most important is probably to understand which ladder you want to climb and how to climb it. Traditional ladders are slow, switching them sometimes helps a lot. Think about how many US presidents got elected.

More on it here.

Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday

Stillness is the key is the new book of Ryan Holiday that just came out about a month ago and it finishes his trilogy about... I wanted to write that about stoic philosophy, but it's not really the truth. The author doesn't write only about stoicism, but much more about ancient pearls of wisdom and philosophy.

True that stoicism is a massive part of Stillness is the key, just like of the other two books (The Obstacle Is The Way and Ego is the Enemy), but other philosophical schools and religions are also involved. After all, - originally - there are much more common elements among them than differences, it's just us, ordinary people, who keep focusing on the differences.

The book is divided between the mind, the spirit and the body. The elements of our life that we have to keep in balance. Holiday uses a metaphor suggesting that these areas are like three legs of a stool. It can only stand still if the three legs are balanced.

So the common wisdom of the ancients, are organized about mental, spiritual and physical lessons that will help us slow down, reconnect with ourselves and keep sane in this constantly running world.

More on it here.

That's it for this year! Please leave your recommendations in the comments section. Feel free to also share how you prioritize your reading backlog.

Happy reading!

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Top comments (5)

murrayvarey profile image

Thanks for the recommendations Sandor. As a fellow reading nut, I love seeing these kinds of list.

The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier

I stumbled across this book yesterday. Glad to hear it's worth a read -- definitely one for the Christmas list.

Incidentally, my top three recommendations for the year are:

Of course, tomorrow I'd probably come out with a completely different list ...

sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

Thanks, I added them my Q!

kicksent profile image
Nick Trierweiler

I just finished listening to Never Split the Difference for the second time this month. It's just a really entertaining book. The book has already had an impact on me and how I think about myself and others. I highly recommend listening to the audible version as it is well read and easy to listen to.

Two others I read this year which were excellent:

murrayvarey profile image

I highly recommend listening to the audible version as it is well read and easy to listen to.

Agreed, it's an excellent listen. That said, I kinda wish it had been read by Voss himself. I've heard him being interviewed, and he has loads of charisma.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Both the worst- and best-named book of all time. The worst because it makes the book sound far more sinister than it is; the best because ... well, it makes the book sound far more sinister than it is, and thus helped it sell millions. Classic book though.

sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

Thanks, I also liked Sonmez's book a lot! His course on blogging helped me to start out a few years ago.

How to Win Friends & Influence People is on my list!