The Best Books All Software Developers Should Read

A huge amount of the success you’re able to achieve in life is directly attributable to the books you read.

When you want to advance your career as a software developer, and have no one to turn to, so read more books.

Start a business – books.

Stock trade options – books.

Improve your life, your discipline, self-esteem, willpower – get in shape?

Books, books, books, and more books.

Writing Good Code

As a software developer, you should be especially interested in writing good code, since that is one of the most foundational things software developers do.

Here are some of the best books on the topic that can greatly influence you in your career and directly improved the quality of the code you write.

This is a foundational and pivotal book on writing good, clean, understandable code that clearly communicates what the code does without the need for excessive comments.

It talks about how to debug code, create quality software, and many other topics every software developer should understand.

The book is a little dated as far as methodologies go, but is still a must-read book for every serious software developer.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

This is one of my all-time favorite books, written by one of my favorite mentors in the software development industry, Bob Martin (Uncle Bob).

This book teaches you how to write clean, highly understandable code and to refactor existing code by example.

It is full of principles and best practices that are timeless in nature and greatly aid the understanding of code written in any programming language.

While Code Complete is a bit dated in terms of methodology, Clean Code makes up for it by presenting an Agile way of crafting and maintaining software.

Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices

Another book by Uncle Bob, but this one focuses more on object-oriented programming.

It covers a wide range of topics from Agile methodology and how to use it, to object oriented design principles, to design patterns and more – all with excellent examples.

What You Need To Know

There are many things you need to know as a software developer. I’ve covered the basics of them throughout this book, but the following books will give you a more in-depth understanding and round out a few areas we didn’t discuss:

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

This book is a classic, but it’s still relevant today, as you’ll commonly see design patterns in code you are maintaining, or you’ll recognize some of these patterns in code you are writing.

Every software developer should at least understand the basic, classic design patterns presented in this book.

Introduction to Algorithms

Not an easy book by any means — requires some math — but it is one of the best books on the modern algorithms commonly used in software development today.

Every software developer should be familiar with these algorithms.

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

This book covers just about everything you should know about writing large-scale, robust applications.

Although the focus is on enterprise applications, many of the principles and patterns apply to any kind of large-scale software application.

Working With Existing Code


One of the most frequent things you’ll be doing as a software developer is working with and maintaining code you didn’t write, i.e. legacy code.

Fortunately, there are some pretty good books on the subject.

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

One essential skill in working with legacy code is refactoring.

Refactoring is changing the structure of the code without changing its functionality.

This book covers just about every major refactoring pattern you need to know.

Now, most of these refactorings don’t have to be done manually any more, since they are baked into modern IDEs, but this book will teach you what they are and how to implement them when you have to.

Working Effectively With Legacy Code

This is considered one of the best overall books for learning how to deal with and maintain legacy code.

It covers just about every topic you can think of in dealing with legacy systems, including safely refactoring, identifying where to make code changes, dealing with systems that aren’t object-oriented, and much, much more.

I highly recommend every software developer read this book – more than once.

Developing Yourself As A Developer

Being a good software developer involves more than just writing good code and being technically competent.

Various soft skills are also very important to your success as a code monkey.

The following books will help you grow and develop as a developer in more than just technical skills.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

Based on the wisdom of a couple of very experienced software developers, this is an extremely popular programming book all about how to advance your career as a software developer..

It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s real stories about real difficult situations in software development.

The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development

This book is chock-full of practical advice about your career as a software developer and the inevitable struggles you’ll face.

It’s about learning how to increase your skills, changing your attitude, staying motivated, and keeping that passion alive, and of course, about advancing your career.

Developing Yourself As A Human Being

Ok, this is where it gets tough for me to narrow things down.

I have a TON of books on this subject, but I’m picking the best of the best and the ones I think will especially help software developers.

I’m limiting myself to these three.

How To Win Friends & Influence People

Start with this book.

It’s one of the best books of all time about interacting with others. Don’t let the title or the age of the book fool you.

This is a classic book frequently on the top book list of many successful people.

I honestly read this book at least once a year, sometimes twice.

I can’t say enough good things about this book – it changed my life.

As a Man Thinketh

This is a short book, and another old one, but extremely potent.

The mindset presented in this book is the mindset required to achieve success in life.

It’s all about focusing on your thoughts and how you choose to perceive the world, which ultimately determines what your life and world is like and what it will become.

Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed

If I had to pick one personal development book, and only one, this would be it.


It’s packed with many concepts, which are sourced from classical books on the subject and they are explained in a way that is concise and clear. It has plenty of exercises for you to actually do to make real, positive changes in your life.

This book covers a wide range of personal development topics, and gives you a huge “bang for your buck” in terms of what can be offered in a single book.

I’ll stop here, but I could write a whole book on what books to read for personal development and growth.

Read On, My Friend…

Well there you have it; those books should keep you busy for a while.

If you get through all the books on this list, I guarantee your life will be drastically improved.

But the journey shouldn’t stop there. Don’t forget to read for fun and if you feel lack of motivation, find some books to keep up your motivation.

I challenge you to make reading a daily habit, if it isn’t already.

There are so many more good books out there. It was quite difficult to narrow them down to make this list.

Here are a few final tips to help you on your journey.

Make sure you spend your time reading good books.

Always look for books that are highly recommended.

Always have a list of books that you want to read next so that you aren’t stuck “looking for a good book.”

Utilize audio if you can.

When you are running, walking, lifting weights, driving in the car, or doing some other activity where you can easily listen to an audiobook, do it.

Finally, put what you learn into action. Knowledge without action is worthless. Don’t just read the books, do what they say.Think about how you can apply what you are learning to your own life.

And, maybe… someday… write your own book.