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Ask HN: Do you know any good audio books for developers?
163 points by macco on Dec 21, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments
I am curious if you know any good audio book for developers.

The topic of programming usually don't lend itself well for audio books.

I know there are a lot of podcasts about programming out there. Most times I don't think you learn by listening to them.

This is why I am searching for good audio books about programming.

Not specifically about programming, but "Every Tool's a Hammer" by Adam Savage was really good. Tons of good information in here, and it tickles the Mythbusters itch.

Are you looking for books about a programming language? or about methodologies, patters, best practices, etc.

As far as about specific programming languages, personally I think the internet is a far better resource. Books are better for the "Soft"er skills (communication, design, etc)

Here are a few I've enjoyed:

* The Phoenix Project

* Accelerate

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

* Rework

Finally, if you've never read "How to win Friends & Influence people", do it now! I'm 34 and for whatever reason put off reading this until last month. I wish I had read that book 10 years ago. I'll definitely be adding it to my re-read list as there is a TON of good advice for building relationships, which is arguably more important than many technical things.

I was about the same age when I read HTWF&IP. It's a shame because it's a really good book about, basically, how to be a good person.

I think the reason we put it off for so long is that they couldn't have titled it worse if they'd called it "How To Be An Asshole"

100% agree on every tool, it's one of the best project planning and management books I've read.

"Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions" by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths is an interesting listen on Audible. Surprised that nobody has mentioned it here yet. It is a perfect candidate for an audiobook because of lack of code snippets and formulae.

2nded. Amazing and engaging book

The Kubernetes Book by Nigel Poulton is the best audiobook adaptation of a technical book that I’ve come across.


I can also recommend this one, works surprisingly well

I could see that, especially if it was read by him.

Watched one of his pluralsight on docker a few years back, remember his speech patterns were really cool.

War and Peace will help you better understand and deal with the constant change in your requirements and why you are right that management has no fucking clue. Also, great value for your audible credit.

But which one? There are more than one translation out there

The Goal

Novel by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

A business fiction book that describes "The Theory of Constraints" a process initially applied in manufacturing that deals with optimizing production line systems.

I found the sections on identifying a bottle neck in a system, focusing on optimizing the system around this point and re-evaluating system performance afterwards very applicable to software engineering.

Everything from CICD pipelines, the flow of work through your team to or performance optimizing a service oriented architecture.

Very much a fore father to books like Phoenix Project mentioned by others here.

Having recently listened to The Goal on Audible, it may be worth noting that it has multiple voice actors as well as ambient background sounds. Definitely adds some color to an already impressive novel.

I agree, totally worth reading, but when I read it in grad school I found it exceedingly dry. kinda had to choke it down. Certainly worth it and I'll probably listen to the Audible recording for a refresher when I need another book

"Organon" and "Metaphysics" by Aristotle. I've found that the more I think in Aristotelian terms, the easier it is to design and model my systems.

Really!? My undergraduate degree was in philosophy. I spent a lot of time studying Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” (which isn’t about metaphysics). How does it apply to software development?

Nichomachean Ethics are very helpful.

But don't read Aristotle's actual work unless you have a philosophy background. Way too dense and complicated.

Try "Aristotle For Everyone" by Mortimer J. Adler, and then "Aristotle" by David Ross.

System modeling is frequently the task of sorting the universal from particular, the substance from the accidents, etc. This is especially true in the object-oriented world. Functional programming and system integration are essentially answering the questions "what causes this?" and "what ought to cause this?"

I'm not a fan of the Nichomachean Ethics. I'm of the Augustinian school.

Could you be a bit more specific? In what ways has your thinking become more Aristotelian and how has that influenced your method of thinking about systems? It's been many years since I read any Aristotle but I'd love to hear your perspective

Had a similar experience recently with Time For Aristotle, it made design make more sense.


1. Masters of Doom 2. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Stay Awhile and Listen is also a very good one in this vein.

this looks great! I've been looking for another book. just grabbed it on audible.

Masters of Doom is so damn good

Software Engineering Daily

Manager Tools

Selfish plug: Launching in 2020 one about working with big data & the challenges that come with it. https://techatscale.com

The Soul of a New Machine was a fascinating listen.

There's an audiobook version of "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman.

The book per se doesn't have much to do with programming per se (at least directly), but Norman describes a couple of mechanisms how humans interact with tools and describes some simple formalisms around them. I personally believe that it's a very useful book to have read (or listened to) if you're going to write any software that humans interact with -- be it UI driven or APIs.

If you are looking for a quick way to convert an ebook into an audiobook, give us a try:


I completely understand that you need to start with epub books. But do you have longer term plans to partner with the proprietary ebook providers? There are a lot of older Kindle eBooks without audio versions that I would love to listen to during my commute.

We do! Currently we are working with web serial authors to help create narration for their works. Support for azw, mobi formats are coming soon. There is a newsletter box near the bottom. If you subscribe, we will let you know once we launch support for those formats.

Wow! This is really natural! Great job.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I've read this twice. Enjoyed it both times and have referred frequently back to it. I second this wholeheartedly

Also, random side note, here's an interesting talk given by Ashley Williams on Rust that refers to the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn-1so-Ibsg (Zen and the Art of Convincing Your Company to Use Rust)

I've listen to some of these https://www.manning.com/liveaudio-landing and there are some glitches like some code snippets not being read. The books were not designed for audio so sometimes it is try but you can learn something.

Some of these (maybe all?) are available on audible as well.

This is only tangentially related to your question, but you might enjoy it anyway: https://creativecommons.org/2008/01/20/doctorow-completes-re...

The Pheonix Project and The Unicorn Project are two good audiobooks centred around Devops and Software Development.

I enjoyed the audiobook versions (while following along with or having already read the written version) of Grokking Algorithms and Classic Computer Science Problems with Python

Creative Selection - Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs


The Unicorn Project, The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey, Permanent Record, Turn the ship around, The Checklist Manifesto,

These are good ones!

"Notes to a Software Team Leader" - on Audible, is an older version of my print book "Elastic Leadership": https://www.audible.com/pd/Notes-to-a-Software-Team-Leader-A...

I agree that it’s tough to truly grok technical material in purely audio format. With that said, I think you can learn a ton by learning about the history, trends, and other software companies. Here are some of my favorites:

The Dream Machine

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer a Revolution

How the Internet Happened

The Soul of a New Machine

AI Superpowers

Platform Revolution

The Everything Store

1- A sit at the table / Mark Schwartz 2- Influencer 3- Accelerate (devops)

Who is the author for Influencer

Kerry Patterson

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology, by Ellen Ullman

An autobiography of a developer, and an author, looking back at her life. Narrated by the author. Might not be for everyone, but I really liked it.

I would check out https://www.sumizeit.com. They have great nonfiction book summaries that you can read or listen to.

Dreaming In Code by Scott Rosenberg has some relatable war stories.

The Phoenix Project

The DevOps Handbook and The Phoenix Project

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. Don't read this before you go to bed though. lolz

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