5 Books All New Developers Should Read

Between online coding bootcamps, blogs, question forums, and more, there are many different types of resources new developers can turn to as they get started. Even so, nothing quite replaces the experience and convenience of cracking open a top-rated book on development. Reference books, histories, biographies, and others all have a place on a new developer’s bookshelf and serve the purpose of offering instruction, wisdom, and advice.

Some books on development have stood the test of time, as other top titles have emerged with the rise of developers who have translated their online publications into print. With so much time and attention spent on the computer, books on development offer a respite as well as an opportunity to dive into a reading experience guided by expert developers further along in their careers.

Ready to crack open a new book and begin your development education? Here are five titles to consider for your bookshelf.

1. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Second Edition)

By Steve McConnell

Serial author Steve McConnell’s Code Complete is often regarded as a must-read for developers at every stage of their careers. At nearly 1,000 pages, his best-selling guide details programming best practices and techniques derived from academic research as well as human trial and error. He updated his first edition (published in 1993) with a second that was released back in 2004 to address changes in programming practices and technology. While industrious coders might sit down and read the entire work, others will simply turn to applicable chapters or flip to sections to help answer a question.

2. Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

By John Somnez

All veteran developers will know that there’s a lot more to a job in development than writing code (even if that’s the best part). Author John Somnez released his manual for managing all parts of a development job outside of coding back in 2014. In it, he covers other aspects of building a strong coding career such as how to successfully work remotely, tips for building a strong personal brand, and how blogging can level up your career. These “soft skills” go in tandem with the great coding skills developers get hired for, and both are important for succeeding as a professional and as a developer.

3. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition)

By Tom DeMarco

Peopleware is another book that comes highly recommended by top developers in the field. Its authors, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, share anecdotes and practical knowledge they’ve collected over the years, underscoring what it really takes to make a company successful: its people. The book on project and team management is a must-read for any developer on or leading a team. In its second edition, the authors address changes in management styles that still resonate today. Its core message of treating developers like people, not machines, remains ever relevant.

4. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

By Robert C. Martin

If there’s one hard and fast rule about development, it’s that clean code is key to successful projects. Building the foundation of any website or application with clean code is the only surefire way to avoid the many hours it’ll take to fix residual bugs created during various builds. Author Robert C. Martin highlights this point in Clean Code, which is divided into three sections. The first covers principles and practices of writing clean code, the second details case studies of varying levels of difficulty, and the third discusses best routes for effectively tackling these development problems. New developers will find this under 500 page book useful for honing coding skills from the onset.

5. Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity

 By Joel Spolsky

New developers should know that not all books on development are created equal, and many focus on the human element of the industry. With the rise of blogging about development came a number of spin off publications, including our founder’s Joel on Software. His candid and humorous take on the hard, and also fun facts, of development is a great read for any developer looking for books by industry leaders. In this book, the author covers topics such as “12 Steps to Better Code” and “Daily Builds Are Your Friend,” for readers looking for expert insights.

These are just a few top picks of the many great books written about development. As new developers pick up these titles and learn more about the industry, they can feel confident in knowing that companies are actively looking to fill any number of open positions on their teams. If you’re ready to start applying, Stack Overflow Jobs is here to help. Check out who’s hiring junior developers right now.


Alyssa Mazzina

Alyssa was a Content Writer at Stack Overflow where she wrote for the Code for a Living blog, helping developers make the most of their careers. She lives in California, in a house filled with kids and dogs.

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