Reading List

This is my professional reading list and book recommendations. For my complete reading list, including history, religion, leisure and other topics, feel free to follow me on Goodreads.

Many of the books I’ve rated on a 5-star rating system.

Currently Reading

The Phoenix Project ★★★★

I’m listening to the audio book of this classic DevOps parable. Although I’m not a big fan of business parables, I have already read The DevOps Handbook, which is sort of the sequel to this one, and The Phoenix Project is about as close to a classic as you can get in the DevOps field, so it was time to read it. I am enjoying it!

Have Read

The Gervais Principle ★★★★★

by Venkatesh Rao

I’ve told many people that this is the most enlightening book I’ve read in the last decade, perhaps ever. It’s not IT-specific, so anyone who works in an organization with other people (and who doesn’t?) could find this book interesting.

The book explores the world of organizational realpolitik, using the popular American sitcom, The Office as a case study.

The book is a collection of blog posts, which are available free online, but the eBook contains additional content. Unfortunately, no print version is available.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder ★★★★★

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is a favorite of mine! An examination of systems that improve when they fail. From the Airline industry, to biological evolution to, hopefully, your company’s technology stack, a well-designed system will improve, rather than crumble, when it faces adversity.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World ★★★★★

by Cal Newport

This book looks at well-known thinkers of history, and learns from their habits to remain focused on their deep work. Full of practical suggestions, as well as interesting anecdotes, I highly recommend this book.

For a short introduction and interview with the author, consider listening to this episode of Hidden Brain from NPR.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship ★★★★★

by Robert C. Martin

This book is the standard bearer for clean code practices. Required reading for any software developer. Although most examples are in Java, all but perhaps one chapter is perfectly relevant to practitioners of any computer programming language.

Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative ★★★★★

by Pete McBreen

This book explains why the “Software Engineering” paradigm is broken for the vast majority of software projects, and proposes an alternative: Software Craftsmanship, taking after the medieval apprentice/journeyman/master craftsman model. Targeted at software developers, anyone in the software development profession can benefit from the insights in this book. And while the author’s may take the medieval analogy too far, this seems to be where the art of software development conversation is heading, so it will never hurt to have an understanding of this material!

Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual ★★★★

by John Sonmez

This is a must-read for any software developer looking to expand her career! I would even suggest making it required reading for everyone on your development team. Sonmez walks the reader through the less technical aspects of software development, including team work, self-education, how to start a blog, and generally how to make oneself more valuable to employers, present and future.

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory ★★★★

by David Graeber

Some jobs don’t just feel pointless, they literally are, according to the author. This entertaining, and often frustrating, look at meaningless jobs will likely strike home with you. According to the author, a full 1/3 of jobs are literally unnecessary, and another 1/3 exist largely or entirely to support the other 1/3 that are unnecessary.

For an introduction and interview with the author, listen to this episode of Hidden Brain from NPR.

Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice ★★★

by Anthony W. Ulwick

A reasonable introduction to the Jobs-to-be-Done theory, and a good reference (especially the last section of the book). But it left me wanting something more concrete and actionable.

Driving Technical Change ★★★

by Terrence Ryan

A guide, aimed especially at the non-manager, for how to effectively and amiciably drive technical change in your workplace. Much of the book is dedicated to an analysis of different types of objections and objectors to change, and how to address each one. Very valuable, especially if you find your people skills lacking, or don’t understand why others don’t understand your “completely logical” conclusions.

The Design of Everyday Things ★★★★

by Don Norman

A sort of intro to product design, this should be required reading for anyone who works on a product used by humans (so, anyone, really). Not only is it practical, but it’s entertaining.

Developer Hegemony: The Future of Labor ★★★

by Erik Dietrich

The first section of this book are a summary of the current state of the software development landscape, from office politics, to job titles. This section alone is worth the purchase price.

The last part of the book is a bit of a manifesto for a better approach. Dietrich envisions a world in which all software developers are either self-employed, or working for small, independent “efficiencer” firms. I think his vision is a good one for some people, but his aspiration that it should be the ideal for all software developers I think is over-ambitious. Still great food for thought.

Also check out the author’s blog, DaedTech.

Site Reliability Engineering ★★★★

Also available free online, this book is full of valuable information and howtos which can be directly applied to your IT organization.

The DevOps Handbook ★★★

This is more a reference book than a page turner. As such, I have not read the entire book, but it contains valuable information if you’re considering or trying to adopt a DevOps mindset.

Blue Ocean Strategy ★★★

Great food for thought, for those trying to develop or position a new product in the market.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It ★★★

by Chris Voss

Negotiation tactics from a former FBI hostage negotiator.

Want to Read


Think and Grow Rich

by Napoleon Hill

I decided to read this, because it’s widely considered a classic. But the constant pseudo-science was a huge turn-off. Quickly abandoned.