Best Computer Science Books - Into the Software and Beyond

Computer science has played a significant role in shaping the world, and the ways that it will carve out the future’s path can only be imagined. Learning more about computer science and all that is possible in this unique industry is a great way to be inspired, encouraged, and educated.

My knowledge of all things computer science is mostly self-taught, and I still consider myself a beginner in this part of the world. But today’s list of books isn’t just for beginners like me or even just for those who want to pursue computer science in their careers.

There are a lot of lessons that everyone can learn from computer science, and this list of the best books for computer science can help spread that knowledge. The kind of knowledge that matters more than most people realize, and it’s worth the time to read a few books on the subject.

So, why is computer science worth your time? The fact of the matter is that computer science affects every single person who reads this page. In turn, it also affects every single industry related to it.

How is that possible? Generally speaking, computer science is the study of how computers work. This all-encompassing field covers both the technological, engineering, and societal branches of the computer’s effects.

Even if you’re not into the programming of the nitty-gritty details of how a computer functions technologically, the ethics of computers, the ways technology affects our lives, and other important factors of computer science are interesting ideas to explore and encounter through different perspectives.

This book list was created through the recommendations of some of the experts in the field. Through surveys and interviews, the most important works about computer science have been gathered together into your new reading list.

Best Computer Science Books

Algorithms

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

When asked what books he would recommend to young people interested in his career path, Emi Gal mentioned Algorithms to Live By.
Emi Gal
CEO/Teads Studio
Structure

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

If my career path is hackers turned business people, I’d say:

Start with the basics and fundamentals:

  • SICP: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • Code Complete 2
Santiago Basulto
Co-Founder/rmotr.com
Code

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

If my career path is hackers turned business people, I’d say:

Start with the basics and fundamentals:

  • SICP: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • Code Complete 2
Santiago Basulto
Co-Founder/rmotr.com
Possible

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

More a set of reports and reflections, in his new book John Brockman assembles twenty-five of the most important scientific minds, for an unparalleled round-table examination about mind, thinking, intelligence and what it means to be human. A must read!
Gerd Leonhard
Futurist
A

A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

AI is finally here, from guiding us home on Waze, to helping us choose a restaurant, a book or a job. I believe this will launch a Renaissance of human creativity as mundane tasks become handled by AI. Kartik Hosanagar’s excellent book identifies the growing pains we may experience along the way to this new human advancement.
Tim Draper
Founder/Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Coders:

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

If you have to work with programmers, it’s essential to understand that programming has a culture. This book will help you understand what programmers do, how they do it, and why. It decodes the culture of code.
Kevin Kelly
Author, Founding executive editor/Wired
The

The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientist Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics All Agree We Are In a Video Game

The Simulation Hypothesis presents a radical alternative to current models of reality. Riz Virk’s book, relying his unique experience designing digital games, results in a stunning reappraisal of what it means to be human in an infinite universe.
Jacques Vallée
Scientist, VC, author
Bitcoin

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction

Right now I am reading: and
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay
Microserfs

Microserfs

Prior to reading the book I had never considered that a career in software development would be an option for me. My parents both grew up poor and chose career paths that would get them to a middle-class salary with the least amount of training. I lived on the outer edge of the suburbs in Georgia and I don’t think I’d met a single computer programmer prior to college. We had an old Packard Bell computer capable of running the original Sim City that eventually caught on fire around the time I read this book. [...] I don’t think I would have picked computer science as my major without the familiarity that I’d had with my own laptop and from the familiarity of the lifestyle outlined in Microserfs.
Alison Alvarez
Co-Founder & CEO/Blastpoint.io
On

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

I’m reading “On intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins. I am really enjoying it. It’s a very specific theory of how our brain learns and makes predictions (the root of our intelligence) explained for average people unfamiliar with the field. It’s also very related to computer science and artificial intelligence since it tried to prove the current approaches to those are flawed. I’m getting a better understanding of how our brain works and how does our behaviour affects our thinking as much as our thinking affects our behaviour. Thus, it’s interesting to connect it with the idea of habits and how we can really benefit from them.
Joan Boixados
Founder/everydayCheck
The

The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence

Whether you are a business leader, policy maker, or entrepreneur, you need to understand Artificial Intelligence and its power to shape our future. In his brilliantly written book, Amir Husain, one of the world's leading AI experts, will help you gain that understanding.
John Chambers
CEO/Cisco
Your

Your Life, Uploaded: The Digital Way to Better Memory, Health, and Productivity

Gordon Bell is now one of the senior researchers of Microsoft. He did several projects about living with a full recording of your life. In this book he reports about that. He is one of the fathers of computer science. I've been tracking him for fifteen years.
Phil Libin
CEO/Evernote
Invariances:

Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World

Philosophy has been under severe challenge from science, literally eating up its provinces: philosophy of mind went to neuroscience; philosophy of language to Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science,etc. This book shows that there is a need for someone to just specialize in the TRUTH, its scructure, its accessibility, its INVARIANCE.

Aside from the purely philosophical answers that scientists were grappling with, the book is like a manual for a new regimen in philosophy. It reviews everything from epistemology to the logic of contingency, with insights here and there about such topics as the observer biases (about computing probabilities when our existence has been linked to a particular realization of the process).

I am not a philosopher but a probabilist; I found that this book just spoke to me. It certainly rid me of my prejudice against modern philosophers.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Digital

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

The unassuming Georgetown computer science professor has become one of this generation’s leading voices on how we can all work more wisely and more deeply. With media consumption continuing to go way up (which, for most of us, means happiness and productivity continue to go way down) and the world becoming noisier every day, this book is an urgent call to action for anyone serious about being in command of their own life. The minimalism movement successfully led millions to opt out of the many possessions we’re told we’re supposed to crave and focus instead on the small number of things that bring the most meaning and value to our lives. The same ideology applies to our online lives. Digital clutter is stressful. We don’t need the constant connectivity, the pages and pages of apps, the incessant scrolling and clicking. New technologies can improve our lives if we know how to best leverage them. This book already helped me break my Facebook addiction—and the first month of the year has been a big improvement for me because of that.

Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check
Bend,

Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds

If you know someone who thinks they're a victim of their circumstances, inspire them with this book.
Simon Sinek
Best-selling Author
Off

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

For every minute you spend inside this book, you'll get back ten. Off the Clock will show you how to spend your hours more meaningfully, reclaim vast amounts of wasted time, and live a better life. Picking up this book will be one of the most valuable investments you make in yourself.
Chris Bailey
Creator/A Life of Productivity
The

The Last Lecture

I read The Last Lecture because I had seen Randy Pausch give this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo
Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
What

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
So

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Entrepreneurial professionals must develop a competitive advantage by building valuable skills. This book offers advice based on research and reality--not meaningless platitudes-- on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. An important guide to starting up a remarkable career.
Reid Hoffman
CEO/Linkedin
Founders

Founders At Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days

Now this one is certainly a little less historical than the others, if only because most of the profiles are about companies founded in the last ten years. Written by Jessica Livingston, a founder of YCombinator, the book profiles some of the hottest and most successful startups in Silicon Valley history. It shows how the founders manage to create massive growth, usually with very few resources. Now I’m not saying that companies like Hot or Not compare with the accomplishments of Pericles or Da Vinci, but you can certainly see how this book captures a moment in time—and its leading men and women—and what that means. This is the most current book on the list (besides mine) but I think many of you will like it. Plus you can learn a lot about the tech scene in one swoop.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Creativity,

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

This book is written by the founder of Pixar and is about his experience building a culture that fosters creativity.

His theory is that people are fundamentally creative, but many forces stand in the way of people being able to do their best work.

I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity. This should be inspiring to anyone looking to do the same, and hopefully there will be lessons we can apply to connecting the world!

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
Darwin

Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence

This book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path.
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay
The

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

[One of the books that had the biggest impact on Dominic Steil.]
Dominic Steil
CTO/Dapps Inc
Army

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: he’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
The

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

While I was thinking of the best books to add to this short list, I realized that not even half of them are directly related to digital marketing. This is because I believe that the best marketers are people who understand human nature deeply and aim to bring out the best in it. Call me naive, but that’s how I see it. If I were to want to pursue a career in marketing, I’d read [...] The Shallows.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
Thing

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Thing Explainer is filled with cool basic knowledge about how the world works. If one of Munroe’s drawings inspires you to go learn more about a subject—including a few extra terms—then he will have done his job. He has written a wonderful guide for curious minds.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
How

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

This book really showed me the amazing pathways that led to innovations that make our lives work today. The stories are told almost like a dramatic mystery to make the history come to life with excitement and aha moments.
Bill Gross
Founder/Idealab
The

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

It's important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls the innovator's dilemma, where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don't want to be left behind.

Steve Jobs
Founder/Apple
The

The Lean Startup

There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list.
Bogdan Iordache
Co-Founder/How to Web