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Ask HN: What's the best programming book you've read recently?
93 points by diegoloop on May 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments

"Peopleware" http://www.amazon.com/Peopleware-Productive-Projects-Second-... , a lot of insights and ideas how to build great teams. Great to read for developers, team leads and managers.

"The art of multiprocessor programming", excellent book on parallel programming theory with code explanations: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0123705916?ie=UTF8&tag=nirs...

I read (not all of it, maybe 50% of it) "The art of multiprocessor programming" a couple of years ago and I agree, its an excellent book. I have a handful of books on the topic and I find this to be my favourite.

If you have the list of books to read on the topic I would be happy if you share it. My next book on the topic will be http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/programming-distributed-comput...

The only ones I can think of off-hand are these two. The second one isn't really about parallel/concurrent/distributed programming per se, but rather about using Intels Threading Building Blocks - good book if that's what you want to do, but not very useful if not. The first book is interesting and covers a lot of ground (covering general techniques and algorithms as well as specific implementations with OpenMP, MPI and Java's facilities), but I liked Art of multiprocessor programming more, probably because it has a more beginner friendly teach everything from the very beginning approach.



Got about 20 pages left in the Peopleware third edition. Excellent book even if you aren't a manager.

Stroustrup's "A Tour of C++" is a great overview of C++11 and modern C++. It's not very long and worth a read to see what's new in the C++ world. The audience is aimed at people who already know C++ but want to know what's new with the latest version. I've been doing a lot more with C++11 recently and am really impressed with the language--dare I say C++ is actually fun to use.

Came here to mention this. I've also found it to be a great resource for understanding a lot of the design decisions in Rust (if you're into that sort of thing), which are often informed by similar decisions in recent versions of C++ that "Tour of C++" discusses in detail.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Would recommend to anyone interested in quick overview of C++.

Just purchased this. I'm hoping it can make up for a year of not attending my c++ lectures, to learn enough for my exam in 1.5weeks.

I don't think it's going to help that much if you're new to the language. You probably want to cram something more beginner friendly like Thinking in C++: http://mindview.net/Books/TICPP/ThinkingInCPP2e.html It's a great book that helped me really start to grok C++ long ago when I was new to the language.

I'm pretty proficient in a ton of other languages, so I'm hoping I have a pretty good head start and will be able to follow the book, but I'll read Thinking in C++ in the meantime until my order arrives. Thanks for the suggestion!

I've really been enjoying The Joy of Clojure (http://joyofclojure.com/) -- note that there's a nearly-finished 2ed in PDF form if you buy the early access version.

I've also been reading Clojure Programming (http://www.clojurebook.com/) to reinforce concepts from the above.

Code Complete has pretty good bang per page, especially if you are beginner.


This is the most disappointing programming book I have ever had a misfortune to buy. If you ever read any UML / Rational Software books - this is right up there in terms of sucking all joy out of programming, putting a blue collar and tie on you and then strangling you to death with soul-less trivialization of the software creation process. Horrible, horrible book.

If you like K&R books, stay the hell away from Code Complete. But make sure to read it though if you think programming is a career.

I must strongly disagree. If you like K&R books, you will find a lot of useful tips like

if (!b) { a();} else { b();}

change to

if(b) {b();} else { a(); }

"Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World", by Joe Armstrong himself.

I have not read it completely, because the first chapters inspired me to start programming (in Erlang) and I haven't gotten back to the book yet.

I also read this earlier in the year. I used Erlang in a few projects at university, but never formally learned much about it beyond what I needed.

I invite you you to hop back into the book. I found it to be a fairly quick read for a technical book. The chapters are well motivated, and the code samples were well placed.

Since you have some additional experience with Erlang now, you might want to skip directly to the later chapters on libraries and frameworks, or on building real applications.

JavaScript: The Good Parts. Made me see JS in a much more elegant way. Coding JS is not trivial. I did use JS in webdev in general, and APIs. But really, I would have never known the mysteries behind it such as prototypal inheritance.

I thought I knew how to write good Ruby code, but then I read "Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby". http://www.poodr.com/

"Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby. A Agile Primer" By Sandi Metz. I am not so much a ruby fan, but don't let the title decive you, ruby is just the tool (since it could use any other OOP language) to show what the book is realy about (OOP Design shown in the best way possible).

I think this book is a little too basic for anyone who's already studied any OOP. I'm no expert, but what I learnt from this could've been condensed into a blog post. I think it'd make a great introduction (a word that should be included in the title) to OOP though.

Currently reading Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley. Interesting small case studies that gives insight on how to tackle problems and think about programming.

First time i see this one. Could be interesting ;-)

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship, by Robert C. Martin.

The Soul of a New Machine. Fascinating documentation of Data General's development of the 32-bit Eclipse machine. Sorta programming, sorta hardware... back when the two were more tightly integrated.

I had the good fortune to work for Tom West after that book was written. He was, quite simply, the best.


pretty much the most important programming book a programmer who works with / in teams can / should / must read.

"Programming in Lua", by Roberto Ierusalimschy. This is a gem of a programming book. Some of my favorite chapters: coroutines, metamethods, weak tables, threads and states. Similar in tone and clarity to K&R "The C Programming Language". I learn something new every time I flip through this book.

As part of the MOOC course Paradigms of Computer Programming (https://www.edx.org/course/louvainx/louvainx-louv1-01x-parad...) I read the initial parts of the book: "Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming" (mitpress.mit.edu/books/concepts-techniques-and-models-computer-programming). The initial chapters provide a good approachable way to get started with functional programming. Though working with Oz (the programming language used in the book) gets some time to get used to, this is an excellent book. I am bit surprised that this book is not as well known, and probably I wouldn't have known about this book if not for the MOOC course.

Refactoring by Martin Fowler. Extremely practical if you work with old and large code bases.

"Refactoring" is next on my list, but I started with "UML Distilled", and am currently working on "Design Patterns", partly in preparation for "Refactoring" (and "UML Distilled" was partly in preparation for "Design Patterns").

Suggestion : Invert the order. :)

Read Refactoring first than read Design Patterns(GoF).

There's a great book called Refactoring to Patterns which I would suggest after GoF (and just overviewing the Refactoring book)


I've been reading Real World Haskell recently and loving it. It does a fantastic job of blowing your mind while simultaneously showing you how to apply Haskell to real-world problems.

Actually I didn't like it at all. It's been a few years, but it totally put me off learning Haskell. Doing some small steps again now, but although I'm usually all for real world applications first (instead of doing the millionth factorial function) - but it did not make much sense to me didactically.

The authors put the book online; though they prefer you purchase a copy if you like it:


I recently went through the later chapters of The Little Schemer again. I still find it incredibly challenging and awesome. As many have said, this is a great book to teach you to think recursively.



Clean Code, by Robert Martin. Excellent book that dives in deep on how to write solid code. It's like having the ultimate code review in book form.

Shameless plug: I just finished writing the first in a series of books about Backlogs. Good backlogs can make programming a lot easier. Conversely, horribly formed backlogs can turn coding into a death march. http://bit.ly/1fJd5Gg

Effective Java. A very succinct collection of wonderful practices and ideas on how to code great software that you can finish in a couple of days, even if you are on a working schedule. Don't mind the "Java" in the title; I read the book regularly and it applies to pretty much any language capable of some OO.

Check the table of contents, it will give you an idea of what to expect from the book.

I've got this right at the top of my wish list. Got a list of other books I gotta finish first though, lol:

Code Complete 2, The Web Application Hacker's Handbook, Algorithms in a Nutshell, and Code.

Not to mention an Arduino book - but I'll probably get Effective Java and read it first.

Not trying to sound cute, but The Elements of Programming Style by Kernighan and Plaugher (1974). Just read this last week during a day of plane travel.

It's all PLI and Fortran, with lots of GOTO being harmful examples, but surprisingly much of it is still relevant. It's a quick read and interesting look at some of the problems they had back then (and some that we still create plenty of today).

The books on and around my nightstand:

+ Joy of Clojure. A recent gift[card]. I put off learning Clojure because of it's more complex syntax. I'm both glad I did, and that I have this book now that that's the no longer the case.

+ ANSI Common Lisp. Lisp was out of reach at the time when my younger self might have pursued computer programming, and realizing around two years ago how accessible it had become got me to download Lisp in a Box and then buy the used copy. Currently visiting, this book orbits in and out of the rotation with a cometary periodicity.

+ Art of Computer Programming: Volume 3, Sorting and Searching Twenty-five years ago or so I bought volume I and about 15 years I donated it to the community radio station's books sale [WMNF 88.5]. I spent about $25 dollars including shipping for used copies of the first three volumes from Amazon last year. Right now each is on a different floor. The proximate reason Sorting and Searching is by the bed: I'm taking Algorithms I on Coursera and it is the first one that really dives into algorithms. A deeper reason is that Knuth always reminds me how much more there is to know - I'm getting better at the maths, but haven't learned MIX. Maybe one of these nights.

+ Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs I bought a "used" copy from MIT via Amazon last year. It's staggering how much is really in it that I glossed over 'reading' the free online version. It's much better than I thought, and I find myself constantly referring to it or just reading a section. It's also a reference for the other Coursera course I am taking: Funtional Programming in Scala with Martin Ordersky.

The non-programming books are from the public library:

+ How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts. The sections are four to six pages and lightweight. Makes for something brief to read. It's the sort of book that I feel no obligation to finish.

+ Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology This book is actually why I mention the non-programming books. I don't read poetry, but I'd always seen people make a big deal about it, and there this was on the new book shelf. I see why the English make a big deal about Siegried Sassoon. I see why they make an even bigger deal about Wilfred Owen. It's potent and powerful and the bench of poets runs much deeper. It makes that war the last ancient one.

"Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming" by Peter Van Roy and Seif Haridi.

Also "The Reasoned Schemer", which has the same pedagogical style as the other Schemer books, but works around logic programming.

Both of those books are mind benders and I've gotten a lot out of them recently.

Richard Bird, Philip Wadler - Introduction to Functional Programming http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Functional-Programming-In...

Richard Bird - Pearls of Functional Algorithm Design http://www.amazon.com/Pearls-Functional-Algorithm-Design-Ric...

Christian Queinnec - Lisp in Small Pieces http://www.amazon.com/Lisp-Small-Pieces-Christian-Queinnec/d...

A little more than just programming, but just finished Ilya Grigorik's new book, "High Performance Browser Networking" (available free online). I learned a lot about Javascript/HTML loading and execution that I had never even thought about.

I've recently read The Passionate Programmer and was rather disappointed.

The book has a few very valuable insights. For the most part it reads like a series of blog posts from a slightly experienced developer.

It's like a fish to water nowadays, basically assimilated into the programming culture by now.

Doing Bayesian Data Analysis

Interesting topics: MCMC, Gibbs Sampling

F# for C# Developers

This book seems to leave lot out in order to simplify but good starting book nonetheless

TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols, Second Edition

I wanted to know what really "connection" means. This book has answer.

An Introduction to R

I guess everyone dealing with data should know R, right?

Here's my Amazon list with quite a few very interesting books collected over time: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/RXLC4WK1ZOJR

I'm attempting some self-taught coding (my degree is in history), and after much dithering, have started with How to Design Programs (htdp.org). SICP is beyond me at this point, and I wanted to get a good grounding in general concepts and good design before jumping into some other more (theoretically lucrative)language.

HtDP is wonderful at what it does, and while perhaps a tad dry in writing style, it is, for me, a page turner in terms of engagement and presentation of new ideas.

Physically Based Rendering by Pharr and Humphreys. Excellent book on modern ray tracing that is a literate program. It's an amazing piece of work (even won an oscar!)

"C# In Depth, 3rd edition" by Jon Skeet. I had been falling behind on the new stuff added to .NET and C# and this is a good way to get back on the curve.

I'm half way through this and slightly disappointed with it. I thought there was too much material on upgrading from early versions that have been obsolete for a long time. Hopefully the second half is better.

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective and NAND2Tetris: Elements of Computing Systems are the best books to learn the internals of computer hardware and solidify your understanding of how a computer works.

The Pragmatic Programmer - My all time favorite. Awesome book to learn best practices of various aspects in programming.

The Code Book: The Evolution Of Secrecy From Mary, Queen Of Scots To Quantum Cryptography, if you have a thing for cryptography.

Effective Objective-C 2.0: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Matt_Galloway_Ef...

In the style of other "Effective Foo" books. Excellent overview of best practices for ObjC, it's the first book I hand new developers on my team.

I have a few coming from Amazon

OpenGL Insights - Cozzi and Riccio

Game Engine Architecture (2nd Edition) - Jason Gregory

Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (2nd Edition) - Stroustrup

Not programming per say, but love Downey's ThinkOs (free): http://greenteapress.com/thinkos/.

Am currently reading Think Complexity (also free): http://greenteapress.com/complexity/index.html

Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition still not finished, but this is best book i have encountered for linux driver programming.

Functional Programming in Scala.

It's not a book about scala, it just so happens to use scala as the language to teach you how to program functionally. I've read other books that purport to do the same, they end up showing a light sprinkling of functional concepts. This book goes much deeper, and is ultimately much more rewarding.

Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja http://www.manning.com/resig/ has helped me understand some of the more interesting parts of the language (such as functions being first class objects) better.

It depends heavily on what stage of your career as a programmer you are.

I strongly suggest most junior programmers I work with to read Effective Java and Head First Design Patterns. To me, it's a great combination to help you write code that's easy to understand and maintain.

"Mining of Massive Datasets", by Jure Leskovec, Anand Rajaraman, and Jeffrey D. Ullman. You can get the PDF here:


Not strictly programming, but been reading Information, a history, a theory , aflood. Been strugling to userstand what life would have been like before various aspects of storage/transmision would have been like.

Looking forward to when it hits Claude Shannon


Really good introduction to computers from relays up.

"More Effective C++" by Scott Meyers

While directed at the C++ crowd, I would recommend this book to any programmer, as it explains many interesting concepts and idioms that are not C++ specific.

C++ Concurrency in Action, Practical Multithreading, by Anthony Williams


Non-technical but some great concepts which can be adapted to programming: Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows The Checklist Manifesto by Athul Gawande

Working Effectively with Legacy Code, by Michael Feathers

What do you think of it? I've been considering buying this for a while.

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP)

I recently got "Hackers and painters" by Paul Graham. I'm still reading but pretty cool so far.

C Primer Plus and Expert C Programming. I wish there was a book similar to the latter that covered C99/11.

I haven't read the book you mention, but regarding a book that does cover c99/11, I really enjoyed: 21st Century C: C Tips from the New School

If you are an experienced C programmer you may end up skipping large portions of it.

In my opinion the book is mostly targeted at people that have had some C experience in the past (probably long ago in school) and have since moved on to newer languages. FWIW I read (and enjoyed) the book cover-to-cover, and I mostly do C# in my day to day work.

Have you tried C Programming: A Modern Approach? It is very good with C99 but there is no C11. My only problem is that it spends too much time for people who are new to C.

Not yet, I'll take a look - thanks!

Last one was probably Let Over Lambda. One of the few programming books I've read cover to cover.

Modern Operating Systems by Tanenbaum, although it's more basics, still relevant for low-level stuff.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman - Dave Hoover , Adewale Oshineye

Computer Systems: A programmer's perspective

Great look at under-the-hood of what happens when a program runs.

Have read over half of Learning Python by Mark Lutz (O'Reilly). A good read.

I've recently started my way through SICP and Algorithms in a Nutshell.

Effective Javascript.

Been reading this one on my Kindle app, but it seems very "entry level" so far. You know of any good Intermediate to Advanced JS books out there? I have Test Driven JavaScript Development by Christian Johansen that I've dug into a bit, but have yet to finish (it's got some more "advanced" stuff I guess, currying, etc).

Check out JavaScript Allonge[1] or JavaScript Enlightenment[2]

[1]: https://leanpub.com/javascript-allonge/read

[2]: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920027713.do

Those two books are recommended in this blog post; there are a few other resources mentioned you may want to look into.


I highly recommend "Secrets of JavaScript Ninja by John Resig and Bear Bibeault. It tremendously help me level up my JS skills. http://www.manning.com/resig/

TAOCP by Knuth (if you can get past the maths).

The Little Schemer.

Fun to read, solidify knowledge of Scheme.

Sql Antipatterns by Bill Karwin

The Little Schemer

Beginning Java EE7 is good, a refresher.

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