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10 All-Time Favorite Programming Books – Must Read in 2021!

Last Updated : 01 Nov, 2022
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Though in today’s digitally-advanced world, we’re having various distinct sources to expand our knowledge about anything such as via YouTube videos, blogs, etc. However, among all these, no one is capable to take over the charm of reading BOOKS for some in-depth exploration of a particular subject or domain. For instance, whenever you find yourself struggling with any programming query or problem – a spontaneous Google Search at that time may save you but the comprehensive understanding of the particular problem and its respective solution with some other crucial insights can only be gained by going through an enriching and worthwhile book.


In particular, for programmers or developers (whether they be beginners or experienced ones), it becomes essential to have a clear and detailed understanding of programming paradigms, design patterns, frameworks, and other core concepts. These books not only help you to make these concepts clear and get your fundamentals stronger but also allow you to broaden your thinking capacity and creativity skills. And it is known to everyone that Programming requires the utmost creativity and logical thinking abilities! To be honest, the actual worth of reading books is underestimated by many of the individuals – you need to know there exists a lot of thinking, deep study, discussions, and dedication behind a single book.

Among the tons of programming books out of there, here in this article – we’ve compiled a list of 10 most-recommended books for all the budding programmers so that they can dive deeper into the development world. Let’s check these:

1. The Self-Taught Programmer: The Definitive Guide to Programming Professionally

As the name suggests, the book is written by a self-taught programmer Cory Althoff who after learning to program on his own landed a job as a software engineer at eBay and his experiences there when he found out that there is still so much to learn to become a professional programmer inspired him to write the book. The book actually acts as the definitive guide that not only enables you to learn to code but you’ll also get to learn how to program professionally. Professional Programming is something that you may not learn from any class or school but this book covers this area brilliantly. Considering the general outlook, in this book, you’ll primarily get to learn programming in Python 3, Object-Oriented Programming, tools like Git and Bash, Data Structures and Algorithms fundamentals, several recommended coding practices along with crucial tips and advice on landing up a programming job.

2. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

Whether you’re a beginner-level programmer or an experienced one, this book by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas is strongly recommended to everyone. The book is about programming and software engineering process that provides you with adequate tips and advice that you should carry out while doing programming to become a better and efficient programmer. In more specific terms, it offers some of the best practices for different aspects of software development as here you get to learn how to write flexible, dynamic, and adaptable code, avoiding the trap of duplicating knowledge, making your developments more precise with automation, and many more such things. The best thing about it that it teaches you all these paradigms and concepts interestingly such as via short stories, analogies, thoughtful examples, etc rather than simply describing it in a usual theoretical way.  

On top of that, the second edition – The Pragmatic Programmer: Your Journey to Mastery has also been released on the occasion of the book’s 20th anniversary with some major revisions and you can take it into consideration as well.  

3. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Undoubtedly, if you’ve started programming even before a few months ago – there’s a thing that you must have known yet i.e., the importance of writing clean and optimal code. If we see it on a larger level, a poorly written code costs the organization a lot whether it be in terms of money, resources, time, or any other. However, this book by Robert C. Martin teaches you the practices to write good and clean code. The book is majorly classified into 3 parts –  

  • First Part: concerned with the principles, patterns, and practices of writing clean code.  
  • Second Part: consists of various case studies of increasing complexity where you learn to transform a codebase that has some problems into one with efficient and clean code.  
  • Third Part: a payoff i.e, a single chapter comprising a list of heuristics collected while creating the case studies.  

It gives you a comprehensive understanding of the difference between good and bad code, how to write good code or how to convert bad code into good code, how to format code for maximum readability, unit test & test-driven development practices, and other related concepts.  

4.  Code Complete (2 Edition) by Steve McConnell  

Though this book by Steve McConnell is majorly recommended to the experience programmers – if you’re a beginner-level programmer with around 1 or 2 years of experience you can surely give it a try to explore the software development world for almost every aspect whether it be designing, coding, debugging, or testing. In fact, this book can significantly leverage you with the amount of experience equal to the years of work in the industry. The book will provide you with a thorough understanding and strategies for applying defensive programming techniques to reduce and eliminate errors, gaining the benefits of collaborative development, debugging problems effectively, resolving critical construction issues priorly, etc. It will surely help you to understand and adopt the art & science of software construction efficiently. Meanwhile, it has been more than 25 years since the original Code Complete book has been released and it is still among one of the most favorite books of the programmers. In addition, the second edition i.e., Code Complete (2 Edition) was released in 2004.  

5. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

Code Refactoring is indeed the very much necessary practice in the programming or development process. Though to know when to refactor, where & how to refactor is not an easy task for the programmers. However, this book by Martin Fowler provides you with a thorough understanding of refactoring principles and resolves all your queries regarding why you should refactor, how to find the code that requires refactoring, strategies to do refactoring successfully, etc. Here you get to know about more than 40 proven refactorings in a detailed manner along with examples and step-by-step instructions for implementation. After reading this book, you will be able to recognize “bad smells” in code that indicate refactoring requirements and can apply useful refactorings to make the program easier. The first edition of the book is written using JAVA as the primary language and the language is JavaScript for the second edition. However, the ideas and approaches mentioned in the book are feasible with any Object-oriented programming language.

6. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Want to know everything about Design Patterns? If yes, then Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software is a must-read book for you! This book by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides is unbeatable when it comes to giving you a comprehensive understanding of software design patterns. You can determine this with the fact that despite getting published in 1994 – the book is still very much relevant and popular in the present-day world. Starting with describing what design patterns are and how they can help to design object-oriented software – the book moves forward to systematically name, explain, evaluate, and catalog recurring designs in object-oriented systems. In this book, you’ll find 23 Object-Oriented design patterns for creating flexible and reusable designs. The patterns here are compiled from the real systems and are based on real-world examples. Also, the demonstration for the implementation of each pattern is also provided with languages like C++ or Smalltalk. After reading this book, you would be able to use these design patterns efficiently in the software development process.

7. Introduction to Algorithms

For a programmer, the command over algorithm concepts is pivotal to solve any programming problem efficiently and optimally. And this book, Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, and Clifford Stein – helps you to know about a wide range of algorithms along with other related concepts in a detailed manner. The best part is that all the explanations are provided in an easy-to-understand manner and the algorithms are written in pseudo-code instead of any particular programming language for better comprehensiveness. At present, there are three editions of the book available in the market, and the planning to come up with the fourth edition is also in the talk. The first edition is primarily used for teaching purposes in schools or universities. The second edition came up with various new chapters on algorithms, probabilistic analysis, linear programming, etc. In addition, the latest edition i.e., the third edition comprises several remarkable topics such as vEB trees, multithreaded algorithms, dynamic programming, etc along with various exercises and problems for practice.

8. Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions  

If you’re one of those budding programmers who’re looking forward to landing up a job opportunity in any IT giant like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. – then this book by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is highly recommended to you. The book consists of numerous programming questions that are generally asked in the tech interviews along with their respective solutions in a detailed manner for better learning purposes. Apart from 189 programming interview questions, here you get to learn about the proven strategies to solve unfamiliar algorithm questions, a thorough understanding of crucial topics like big O time, data structures, etc., strategies to prepare for behavioral questions, and various other things.  

Though, many of the developers considered it as the best book or resource for coding interview preparation – it is also worthwhile for learning programming & computer science fundamentals and how to break down problems into smaller chunks to solve them efficiently. Till now, six editions of the book have been published and the latest one i.e., the sixth edition was published recently in 2015.  

9. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

If you’re a budding programmer and want to explore a programmer’s life then this book by Peter Seibel is highly recommended to you. It is primarily comprised of interviews of 15 highly accomplished programmers and computer scientists by the author. The content inside is concerned with how these interviewees learned to program and became proficient programmers, how they tackle their programming job, what kinds of problems they consider interesting, how they debug code, and many more valuable aspects. Also, the interviewees discuss their respective renowned projects and tell the anecdotes behind these. Talking about the profiles of these programmers who got interviewed – they all have done pretty much very in the industry such as Joe Armstrong (inventor of Erlang), Joshua Bloch (author of the Java collections’ framework, now at Google), Donald Knuth (author of The Art of Computer Programming and creator of TeX), Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google and author of the standard text on AI) and many other successful personalities.  

10: Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

Lastly, here comes a book that however is not concerned with core programming concepts or methodologies but surely helps the programmers to do well in their professional career journey. The book deals with several crucial aspects of a developer’s life such as dealing with clients & managers, maintaining productivity, gaining financial security, fitness and health goals, and various other related ones. It provides you with a clear roadmap for enjoying programming as a profession. This enriching guide consists of a total of  71 short chapters and you’re also provided with a Taking Action part after each chapter to get actual results. In addition, you also get to know the author’s secret ten-step process for learning quickly along with fitness advice and effective strategies for investment and early retirement. The book is strongly recommended to every programmer not only from career perspectives but to lead a happier and healthier life as a programmer.

So, these are several highly recommended books for every programmer to enhance the knowledge and explore the programming world in depth. Though apart from these books, there are numerous other books too that can also be considered – however, what you have to keep in mind is don’t just read these books abruptly just for the sake of finishing them instead take as much time as it requires to understand the core idea and concept behind them!

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