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Top 10 Software Engineering Books to Read to Improve Your Skills

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25th Oct, 2022
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Top 10 Software Engineering Books to Read to Improve Your Skills

Software engineers are the architects of the digital world, and since this world is ever-changing, learning is vital in a developer’s career. Although tutorials and programming blogs are readily available online to grasp the pivotal software development aspects, books still hold an essential place in the learning journey of a software developer. Most software development texts approach the content from a holistic viewpoint, which helps learners intertwine various concepts for better understanding.

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In this article, we have put together ten must-read software engineering books for you to dive into. Not only will these books help strengthen your fundamental knowledge, but they also explore software development principles.

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1. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship written by Robert C. Martin

The first text in our list of software books for developers is Clean Code, written in 2002, a notable guidebook helping the readers to write cleaner codes. It further helps the readers to identify sluggishly buggy codes. It is one of the classics in software development books and is divided into three sections, where each deals with a distinct path to efficient and better code writing. The first section deals with heuristics learning, followed by clean code principles, and lastly, creating efficient code by increased complexity. This book focuses on the roots of code learning, making it a beginner-friendly text.

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2. CSS In-Depth, written by Keith J. Grant

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a vital programming language developers must learn in their journey. CSS is responsible for determining a website’s look, and hence CSS in Depth by Grant is our second book on this list, narrating every aspect of the language in detail. This book addresses fundamental concepts of the programming language and gradually moves into complex ones, including responsive design or scaling up, which makes this book a must-read.

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3. The Read-Aloud Cloud: An innocent’s Guide to the Tech Inside, written by Forrest Brazeal

The third book in our list of software books is a light-hearted text written in the form of rhymes paired with cartoons! For those bored with intricate details of the subject and looking forward to a light read describing the working of a cloud system, pick up this book right away! Although written in a carefree language, this book explains the technical concepts of the cloud and its consequences on information technology with so much depth that even a beginner can easily grasp the concepts.

4. Cracking the Coding Interview written by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

This book is excellent for aspiring software engineers who have recently entered the job-hunting field. The 6th edition of this book is loaded with 189 programming related interview questions, ensuring that your interviews are a success. It comes with hints on problem-solving, walk-throughs, five strategies to solve algorithm questions, puzzles, and a compact guide giving you the company’s outlook on developer hiring. This is a go-to book among software engineers, which helps learners build up their concepts, suggests how to behave in special situations, and offers pre-interview preparation.

5. Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, written by Charles Petzold

Coding is what gets a computer running, and learning how a computer system works is vital for a software developer. If you’re looking for a book to help you master this skill set, then this book by Charles Petzold is the ideal one. The content has a systematic structure and begins with an elaboration on coding. The language is easy, and the book is filled with references for beginners to grasp the basic concepts. What makes the book a must-read is its storytelling format which makes the read interesting for the learners. This book also tells you how to build a computer by yourself!

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6. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software, written by Erich Gamma

Identifying problems and generating solutions is the core focus of software engineering, which is exactly what the book is about. The book was created almost 30 years ago, in 1994, but is relevant to date. Design Patterns is a noteworthy read as it explains patterns, their applicability and their use for creating solutions. The book guides the readers to programming languages (C++) and illustrates the distinctions between patterns with suitable examples.

7. Site Reliability Engineering: How Google runs production systems, written by Betsy Beyer, Jennifer Petoff, Chris Jones, and Nial R. Murphy

Do you want to know how Google has successfully maintained its software system, which is perhaps the largest globally? Here’s a book curated by its key members to learn it all! This read is a simple collection of articles and essays that focus on the software’s lifecycle after its invention and development. It is a must-read as the book clarifies how a company can soar high if it lays a commitment to a software’s lifecycle with real-life instances that hook the reader.

8. Don’t Make Me Think, written by Steve Krug

This book is on our list of top software development books because the content is built on pillars like common sense, brevity and simplicity. The author explains that most people using websites or software will accept the first offered solution. Software engineers should keep this common thing in mind while designing and making the best of this knowledge. This simplicity is what makes this book worth a read.

9. A Philosophy of Software Design written by John Ousterhout

This book might be a lot to take in at first, but it joins the list of top software engineering books because of its comprehensive approach. The book initially covers the essential fundamentals and then proceeds to complex concepts by segmenting them into smaller modules. The author also explains the philosophies required to be followed by a developer. This approach makes it easy for the learners to make sense of the subject through a consumable format.

10. Programming Pearls, written by Jon Bentley

The last book in our list of top software engineering books is considered the most influential, helping the readers assume a programmer’s mindset. The book explains practical problems with numerous solutions, making it easy to grasp concepts. What makes this book noteworthy? It offers a steady escalation in the difficulty level of the concepts like CPU, memory or algorithms, ensuring the readers master all the concepts.

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the most in-demand software engineering career options?

Currently, the most in-demand options are: 1) Java developer 2) Data scientist 3) Cyber security specialist 4) Cloud engineering 5) Full-stack developer

2Will software engineering be a challenging field to study?

Initially, every field can be challenging to study, and software engineering is no different. It becomes more difficult for those with no programming knowledge or who aren’t adept at coding skills. However, many resources are readily available to guide the aspirants, including offline and online courses, software development books etc.

3What are the skills required to be a software engineer?

The following skills are needed to become a software engineer Hard skills: 1) Computer programming and coding 2) Object-oriented design or OOD 3) Software development 4) Software testing Soft skills: 1) Problem-solving 2) Communication 3) Teamwork 4) Focusing on details