21 essential software development books to read

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Software development books are a great source of knowledge and wisdom. But unfortunately, there are very few people reading books today, especially programmers. Most often they rely on the internet search results to find answers.
But If you’re a software developer, you need to read more books, because software development is not only about coding, it is about thinking, it is about best practices. And books give you a good explanation and base, that you won’t always find in short articles or Google search results. In Apiumhub we are big fans of reading good literature, we even have a small library in the office with our favorite software development books. Today, we created a list of books we believe may help any kind of developer become a better professional. And here you have a list of top 20 software development books that are worth mentioning in this article.

If you have any other book that you would like to add, let us know here.

Top 21 software development books to read

1. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts, Erich Gamma

This book is the first one in the list of top software development books and it is written by very well known software development influencers. It is basically about improving the design of existing code. It is the process of changing a software system in such a way that it does not alter the external behavior of the code, it improves its internal structure.
With refactoring, you can even take a bad design and rework it into a good one. In this book you will find discussions about principles of refactoring, including where to spot opportunities for refactoring, and how to set up the required tests. There is also a catalog of more than 40 proven refactorings with details as to when and why to use the refactoring, step by step instructions for implementing it, and an example illustrating how it works. Readers of the book will come away with a more mature, more long-term perspective about what constitutes good design.

2. Camel in Action by Claus Ibsen and Jonathan Anstey

Camel in Action is a Camel tutorial full of small examples showing how to work with the integration patterns. It starts with core concepts like sending, receiving, routing, and transforming data. It then shows you the entire lifecycle and goes in depth on how to test, deal with errors, scale, deploy, and even monitor your app- details you can find only in the Camel code itself. Written by the developers of Camel, this book distills their experience and practical insights so that you can tackle integration tasks like a pro.

3. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

This book is not about programming, it is about management and motivation. And it is in almost all the list of software development books to read! Because it should be read by developers too as very often developers, especially inexperienced ones don’t understand the thought process of management. The authors explain how managers can enable their software teams to realize their potential in a sustainable manner. IN this book you may discover a lot of helpful tips on how to put more quality into a product, etc.

4. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides, Grady Booch 

If you are a software architect or a software developer, this book is highly recommended to read. It is one of the greatest software development books ever written, this book goes into great detail on the many different design patterns that have been developed over the years to help software engineers avoid and handle common problems that the industry faces. It is about quality, flexible, and maintainable software. This book is about the design of object-oriented software and it shows how to investigate requirements, create solutions and then translate designs into code, showing developers how to make practical use of the most significant recent developments.

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5.  Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley

The focus of this book is primarily on coding techniques and algorithms. Programming Pearls is not a usual book teaching new programming concepts. Although it contains good and quite novel ideas, the aim of the book is not to teach something new but to help you become a better problem solver.

6. The Art of Computer Programming by Donald E. Knuth 

This was written by the famous computer scientist Professor Donald Knuth and is highly praised by many of the top programmers in the industry. Even Bill Gates said:
“If you think you’re a really good programmer, read Art of Computer Programming. You should definitely send me a resume if you can read the whole thing.” The book begins with basic programming concepts and techniques, then focuses more particularly on information structures and the representation of information, the structural relationships between data elements and how to deal with them efficiently. You may find here numerical methods, symbolic computing, software, and system design.

7. Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas 

The insights in this book span across a number of interesting areas such as a variety of exploratory programming, writing code that writes code, separating views from models, expensive tools do not produce better designs, developing a great team, managing expectations, avoiding duplicate knowledge, etc. The Pragmatic Programmer is a collection of lessons and recommendations for software developers. It contains a set of numbered tips and cuts through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development to examine the core process – taking a requirement and producing working, maintainable code that delights its users. It covers topics ranging from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse.

8. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell  

A must read for anyone who wants to read all about programming constructs and best practices. Here you will find practical advices on everything ranging from code structure, code formatting, variable, method and class naming, all the way up to managing a team. McConnell shows the most effective techniques and must-know principles into clear, pragmatic guidance. No matter what your experience level, development environment, or project size, this book will inform and stimulate your thinking and help you build the highest quality code.

9. Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide by Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra, Elisabeth Robson

This book is about design patterns. The book does not try to cover all the patterns that exist in the world, rather it covers every pattern that you might need to solve real world problems. It will help you create functional, elegant, reusable, and flexible software.

10. Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual by John Sonmez  

A great book on managing “other” aspects of developers life. For most software developers, coding is the fun part. What is hard for them is dealing with clients, peers, and managers, staying productive, achieving financial security, keeping yourself in shape, etc. This book is about that. You you will find important “soft” topics, all from a developer-centric viewpoint.

11. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming by Peter Seibel

If you’re curious about life as a programmer than Coders at Work is the book for you. It’s packed with interesting interviews from 15 accomplished programmers and computer scientists including Joshua Bloch, Peter Norvig, Donald Knuth, Ken Thomson, and Jamie Zawinski. The author got interviewees to open up about the famous projects that they worked on and the inspiring stories behind them. Coders at Work gives a fascinating look at how some of the best in the world do their work. Definitely a must read!

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12. Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions by Gayle Laakmann McDowell 

This is one of the go-to books for programming interviews if you want to work for companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google or Microsoft. The book gives 150 programming questions that you might encounter at interviews, and then breaks down how to solve them.

13. Bonus Book: Zero Bugs and Program Faster by Kate Thompson

The author of Zero Bugs spent two years researching every bug avoidance technique she could find. This book contains the best of them! It includes useful tips and techniques, and presents information in an easy-to-digest way and brought to life with stories. Also, she explains why the world’s top developers are making over $500,000 a year while the average is around $100,000 a year. She shows how top developers can develop 10x faster and cleaner than 99% of the others out there. Basically, in this book you will find precious advices on how to write code faster and get cleaner.

14. Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams by Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory 

Two of the industry’s most experienced agile testing practitioners and consultants, Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, have teamed up to write a book about agile testing and illustrate the tester’s role with examples from real agile teams.

15. Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation by Jez Humble, David Farley 

This book sets out the principles and technical practices that enable rapid, incremental delivery of high quality, valuable new functionality to users. Through automation of the build, deployment, and testing process, and improved collaboration between developers, testers, and operations, delivery teams can get changes released in a matter of minutes, no matter what the size of a project or the complexity of its code base.In this book authors talk about the foundations of a rapid, reliable, low-risk delivery process, deployment pipeline, ecosystem needed to
support continuous delivery, from infrastructure, data and configuration management to governance. The authors introduce state-of-the-art techniques, including automated infrastructure management and data migration, and the use of virtualization. For each, they review key issues, identify best practices, and demonstrate how to mitigate risks.

16. Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices by Robert C. Martin  

This book has dozens of practical but concise examples illustrating everything from relatively simple object-oriented design concepts to subtle and complex issues with class and package dependencies. In this book author explains each design pattern, demonstrating their use through code, and placing them within the context of his design principles. The book covers: Statics and Dynamics; Principles of Class Design; Complexity Management; Principles of Package Design; Analysis and Design; Patterns and Paradigm Crossings. Explains the principles of OOD, one by one, and then demonstrates them with numerous examples, completely worked-through designs, and case studies.

17. Test Driven Development: By Example by Kent Beck 

You will love this book, because this book is about Test Driven Development and it is written by the inventor of the practice – Kent Beck. The book is short, easy to understand, and presents very helpful ideas on the topic, illustrating techniques programmers can use to increase the quality of their work. It’s very good for anyone who cares about agile software development and code quality.

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18. Agile estimation and planning by Mike Cohn

This book is not only about the philosophy, but also about the guidelines and a proven set of tools that we need to succeed in planning, estimating, and scheduling projects with a high uncertainty factor.

19. Reactive Design Patterns by Roland Kuhn Dr. , Brian Hanafee, Jamie Allen

Reactive Design Patterns is a clearly written guide for building message-driven distributed systems that are resilient, responsive, and elastic. It presents the principles, patterns, and best practices of Reactive application design. Also you’ll find patterns for messaging, flow control, resource management, and concurrency, along with practical issues like test-friendly designs. All patterns include concrete examples using Scala and Akka.

20. Domain-Driven Design Distilled by Vaughn Vernon

Domain-Driven Design software modeling delivers powerful results, which is why developers worldwide are rapidly moving to adopt it. This book is an accessible guide to the basics of DDD: what it is, what problems it solves, how it works, and how to quickly gain value from it. In this book, the author guides you through each core DDD technique for building better software. Actually we were happy to attend an event in Barcelona, where Vaughn was giving a very interesting presentation about DDD, you can find the details here.

21. Mastering Kubernetes – Third Edition by By Gigi Sayfan

And this is the last book from our top software development books list.The third edition of Mastering Kubernetes is updated with the latest tools and code enabling you to learn Kubernetes 1.18’s latest features. This book primarily concentrates on diving deeply into complex concepts and Kubernetes best practices to help you master the skills of designing and deploying large clusters on various cloud platforms. The book trains you to run complex stateful microservices on Kubernetes including advanced features such as horizontal pod autoscaling, rolling updates, resource quotas, and persistent storage backend. With the two new chapters, you will gain expertise in serverless computing and utilizing service meshes. As you proceed through the chapters, you will explore different options for network configuration and learn to set up, operate, and troubleshoot Kubernetes networking plugins through real-world use cases. Furthermore, you will understand the mechanisms of custom resource development and its utilization in automation and maintenance workflows. By the end of this Kubernetes book, you will graduate from an intermediate to advanced Kubernetes professional.

Also in Dev free books, you will find interesting and practical software development books for Scala, .Net, Java, PHP, Reactjs, Typescript,etc. developers. Another source of good software development literature is Github, where you can find great books about microservices, docker, elasticsearch, TDD, BDD, etc. in pdf.

Enjoy reading these useful and practical software development books! I am sure you will love them!

And if you are interested in growing as a software developer, I highly recommend you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive latest software development books, best practices, and upcoming events.

If you are interested in working for us as a software developer, check our job offers here! Or you have a software development and you need help, contact us, we will be happy to speak with you!

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