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Best Programming Books – For Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs

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What books do the best programmers read to stay up-to-date with the latest in the continually changing environment of software development? How do they know which books are really worth their time, and which are nothing more than simple side pleasures?

To some, the best programming books are those that can be easily referenced when they’re stuck in the code. These types of reference materials are, to be certain, some of the most valuable books to have on hand. The internet, however, is often a more easily accessible reference guide in situations like this.

So, what kinds of programming books exist? Beyond reference books, many books help people, like me, understand how programming works at a higher level. Programming is not just about the code, but it is also about what the code creates and how that creation will be used.

Almost anyone can find a snippet of code, copy it, and paste it into place. With luck, it will function properly on its own. Whether or not that code can be created to work with specific intentions will depend on how well the programmer understands the code’s language and syntax.
I’ve found that the best books are those that blend introducing new, concrete knowledge with examples with more abstract ideas that must be addressed while programming.

From foundational books to reference books, from career guidance books to efficiency books, there is a huge variety of content about programming available to programmers who are ready to do more.

Are you one of those programmers? I know I am. Today’s list, though, was not created by me.

It was curated by the ideas, thoughts, and knowledge-base of the amazing CEO Library community. Experienced developers and programmers shared their insight into what are the best programming books, and this is what they recommend:

Best Programming Books

Programmierung in Scala

Programmierung in Scala

Ich liebe die folgenden Bücher, auch wenn ich nicht täglich in diesen Sprachen codiere. Es ist immer noch interessant, die Konzepte dahinter zu lernen

  • Programming in Scala (Odersky)
  • Lernen Sie ein Haskell für das Gute
Santiago Basulto
Mitbegründer/rmotr.com
The Tao of Programming

The Tao of Programming

Now, I had heard from my publisher (who knew Jobs from way back) that Jobs had liked my recently published book The Tao of Programming. So I thought, why not? and walked up and introduced myself. Jobs smiled, shook my outstretched hand and said:
Steve Jobs
Gründer/Apfel
Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

Founders at Work and Coders at Work are really good ones too. They’re filled with interesting and inspiring stories.
Santiago Basulto
Mitbegründer/rmotr.com
Programmierperlen

Programmierperlen

I very much enjoyed reading "Programming Pearls" by John Bentley. Most of the software we write is trying to solve fairly large and ill-defined problems in a way that minimises development cost, but Programming Pearls presents a lot of small, well-defined problems, and talks through their solutions in ways that minimise machine resource usage. There are lots of good "a-ha" moments when reading it, and working through ways to think about the problems that knock asymptotic orders off the computational complexity.
James Stanley
Founder/SMS Privacy
Coder: Die Entstehung eines neuen Stammes und die Neugestaltung der Welt

Coder: Die Entstehung eines neuen Stammes und die Neugestaltung der Welt

Wenn Sie mit Programmierern zusammenarbeiten müssen, ist es wichtig zu verstehen, dass Programmieren eine Kultur hat. Dieses Buch hilft Ihnen zu verstehen, was Programmierer tun, wie sie es tun und warum. Es entschlüsselt die Kultur des Codes.
Kevin Kelly
Autor, Gründungsredakteur/Wired
JavaScript: Die guten Teile

JavaScript: Die guten Teile

I’m actually a self-taught programmer, so these books have really helped me with practical skills that I could put to use & yield results. The return on investment for these kinds of books is off the charts for me!
Austin Bunsen
Co-Founder/CBlocks
Bitcoin beherrschen: Die offene Blockchain programmieren

Bitcoin beherrschen: Die offene Blockchain programmieren

This [reading something helpful] happens with pretty much every book I read. Most recently it happened to me when I was reading “Mastering Bitcoin” by Andreas Antonoupolous. I had no idea what the components of a Bitcoin wallet address were and he elegantly explains them in detail in chapter 4. It’s particularly relevant because we started CBlocks and we focus almost exclusively on wallet generation for our customers.
Austin Bunsen
Co-Founder/CBlocks
The Unix Programming Environment

The Unix Programming Environment

The Unix Programming Environment, by Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike. In addition to its articulation of the Unix tools philosophy that is so dear to my heart, the writing is a model of clarity and elegance. As a technical writer, I aspired to be as transparent as Kernighan.
Tim O’Reilly
Founder/O'Reilly Media
Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns

Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns

My favorite book about programming. It’s more than twenty years old now, but it remains as relevant as ever. It captures so many of the patterns I love to dance with when writing beautiful code.
David HeinemeierHansson
Mitbegründer/Basecamp
Struktur und Interpretation von Computerprogrammen

Struktur und Interpretation von Computerprogrammen

Wenn mein Karriereweg von Hackern zu Geschäftsleuten führt, würde ich sagen:

Beginnen Sie mit den Grundlagen und Grundlagen:

  • SICP: Struktur und Interpretation von Computerprogrammen
  • Code abgeschlossen 2
Santiago Basulto
Mitbegründer/rmotr.com
Lernen Sie Ruby auf die harte Tour: Eine einfache und idiomatische Einführung in die fantasievolle Welt des computergestützten Denkens mit Code

Lernen Sie Ruby auf die harte Tour: Eine einfache und idiomatische Einführung in die fantasievolle Welt des computergestützten Denkens mit Code

I’m actually a self-taught programmer, so these books have really helped me with practical skills that I could put to use & yield results. The return on investment for these kinds of books is off the charts for me!
Austin Bunsen
Co-Founder/CBlocks
Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!

Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!

Ich liebe die folgenden Bücher, auch wenn ich nicht täglich in diesen Sprachen codiere. Es ist immer noch interessant, die Konzepte dahinter zu lernen

  • Programming in Scala (Odersky)
  • Lernen Sie ein Haskell für das Gute
Santiago Basulto
Mitbegründer/rmotr.com
Code Complete: Ein praktisches Handbuch zur Softwarekonstruktion

Code Complete: Ein praktisches Handbuch zur Softwarekonstruktion

Wenn mein Karriereweg von Hackern zu Geschäftsleuten führt, würde ich sagen:

Beginnen Sie mit den Grundlagen und Grundlagen:

  • SICP: Struktur und Interpretation von Computerprogrammen
  • Code abgeschlossen 2
Santiago Basulto
Mitbegründer/rmotr.com
Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

I want everybody I know to read "How to Make Wealth" and "Mind the Gap" (chapters 6 and 7), which brilliantly articulate the most commonly, and frustratingly, misunderstood core economic principles of everyday life.
Eva Williams
Co-creator/Blogger
Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (2nd Edition)

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (2nd Edition)

This is next on my list of technical books to read! Refactoring is one of two programming books that I’ve read multiple times (the other is Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns), and I’m due for another reading. What perfect time then to dive into Martin Fowler’s long anticipated 2nd edition, now using JavaScript rather than Java for the code examples.

Like the stoic books, I read Refactoring and that Smalltalk book again and again not because I’m going to learn something new, per se, but because I want to be reminded about what I already know. And what better time to reread than just as we’re kicking off a new major project that needs a fresh architectural foundation.

Also, these two books just remind every time of how much I love the craft of programming. It’s not just having the programs, it’s not just solving problems, it’s simply using my hands and head to program that in and of itself is sublime.

David HeinemeierHansson
Mitbegründer/Basecamp
Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

I read it after I finished an MA in Writing and it was exactly what I needed to burst my bubble. I loved it because it questioned everything and it perfectly matched my skepticism towards creative writing courses. Regardless of my amazing experience within the creative writing masters, nobody can teach you how to write, but somebody can definitely teach you how to rewrite and how to read. In a world where everybody urges you to be original, creative, Goldsmith states that you can totally be creative with somebody else’s work with a little help from the Internet: word processing, databasing, recycling, sampling, appropriation, coding (‘Pure Poems’ written by Shigeru Matsui in alphanumeric binaries), plundering, programming, and even plagiarizing. Yes, plagiarizing. The most eloquent example (I love it) is this essay entitled ‘The Ecstasy of Influence: A plagiarism’. Jonathan Lethem brilliantly shows us that nothing is original in literature – all ideas has been shared, recycled, stolen, quoted, translated, re-translated, imitated, pirated, patch written, re-written and so on. The essay is the perfect example for this – not a single word or idea belongs Jonathan Lethem. Everything is borrowed from others’ books, ideas, writings. Goldsmith even taught the ‘Uncreative Writing’ course at the University of Pennsylvania where students were not allowed to bring to the class any trace of originality and creativity.
Alina Varlanuta
Creator/The Hole in Your Head
Digitaler Minimalismus: Die Wahl eines fokussierten Lebens in einer lauten Welt

Digitaler Minimalismus: Die Wahl eines fokussierten Lebens in einer lauten Welt

Der bescheidene Informatik-Professor aus Georgetown ist zu einer der führenden Stimmen dieser Generation darüber geworden, wie wir alle klüger und gründlicher arbeiten können. Da der Medienkonsum weiterhin stark zunimmt (was für die meisten von uns bedeutet, dass Zufriedenheit und Produktivität weiter sinken) und die Welt jeden Tag lauter wird, ist dieses Buch ein dringender Aufruf zum Handeln für jeden, der ernsthaft das Kommando übernehmen möchte ihr eigenes Leben. Die Minimalismus-Bewegung hat erfolgreich dazu geführt, dass Millionen Menschen auf die vielen Besitztümer verzichten, von denen uns gesagt wird, dass wir uns danach sehnen sollen, und uns stattdessen auf die kleine Anzahl von Dingen konzentrieren, die unserem Leben den größten Sinn und Wert verleihen. Die gleiche Ideologie gilt für unser Online-Leben. Digitale Unordnung ist stressig. Wir brauchen nicht die ständige Konnektivität, die Seiten und Seiten von Apps, das unaufhörliche Scrollen und Klicken. Neue Technologien können unser Leben verbessern, wenn wir wissen, wie wir sie am besten nutzen können. Dieses Buch hat mir bereits dabei geholfen, meine Facebook-Sucht zu überwinden – und der erste Monat des Jahres war deshalb eine große Verbesserung für mich.

Ryan Urlaub
Medienstratege, Autor, Gründer/Brass Check
Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky's Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolskys prägnanter Leitfaden zum Finden der besten technischen Talente

The book spans a broad field and it's obvious that many things, like the location of your company, are beyond the control of most managers and technical interviewers. Joel recognizes this and gives solid and honest no-nonsense advices. Like all of Joel's writings this book is humorous, interesting and a true joy to read. I tend to disagree quite often with Joel's technical opinions, but on the softer aspects of the business, he's brilliant. If you're involved in the hiring process, this book will give you a lot of ideas and advices.
Adam Tornhill
Founder/Empear
The Impossible Fortress

The Impossible Fortress

The Impossible Fortress: My inner 14-year-old loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. The Commodore 64 code was a bonus.
Brad Feld
Co-Founder/Foundry Group

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