Jeff Atwood's favorite books

  • Don't Make Me Think

    The single best book on usability I've ever read.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Beautiful Evidence

    Beautiful Evidence

    Edward R. Tufte
    Computers

    Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.Here we will see many close readings of serious evidence presentations-ranging through evolutionary trees and rocket science to economics, art history, and sculpture. Insistent application of the principles of analytical thinking helps both insiders and outsiders assess the credibility of evidence.

    Buy on Amazon

    You don't need to own all four books...the first two are essential

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • The Mythical Man-Month

    The Mythical Man-Month

    Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
    Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition
    Computers

    Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time. The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

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    Arguably the only classic book in our field. If you haven't read it, shame on you.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Programming Pearls

    Programming Pearls

    Jon Bentley
    Computers

    When programmers list their favorite books, Jon Bentley’s collection of programming pearls is commonly included among the classics. Just as natural pearls grow from grains of sand that irritate oysters, programming pearls have grown from real problems that have irritated real programmers. With origins beyond solid engineering, in the realm of insight and creativity, Bentley’s pearls offer unique and clever solutions to those nagging problems. Illustrated by programs designed as much for fun as for instruction, the book is filled with lucid and witty descriptions of practical programming techniques and fundamental design principles. It is not at all surprising that Programming Pearls has been so highly valued by programmers at every level of experience. In this revision, the first in 14 years, Bentley has substantially updated his essays to reflect current programming methods and environments. In addition, there are three new essays on testing, debugging, and timing set representations string problems All the original programs have been rewritten, and an equal amount of new code has been generated. Implementations of all the programs, in C or C++, are now available on the Web. What remains the same in this new edition is Bentley’s focus on the hard core of programming problems and his delivery of workable solutions to those problems. Whether you are new to Bentley’s classic or are revisiting his work for some fresh insight, the book is sure to make your own list of favorites.

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    Is the next best thing to working side by side with a master programmer for a year or so.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Rapid Development

    Rapid Development

    Steve McConnell
    Taming Wild Software Schedules
    Computers

    Project managers, technical leads, and Windows programmers throughout the industry share an important concern--how to get their development schedules under control. Rapid Development addresses that concern head-on with philosophy, techniques, and tools that help shrink and control development schedules and keep projects moving. The style is friendly and conversational--and the content is impressive.

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    you'll...want to read this book

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • The Pragmatic Programmer

    This book reminds me a lot of Programming Pearls, but it's actually better, because it's less focused on code.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • About Face

    About Face

    David H. Hackworth
    The Odyssey of an American Warrior
    Biography & Autobiography

    Called “everything a war memoir could possibly be” by The New York Times, this all-time classic of the military memoir genre now includes a new forward from bestselling author and retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. Whether he was fifteen years old or forty, David Hackworth devoted his life to the US Army and quickly became a living legend. However, he appeared on TV in 1971 to decry the doomed war effort in Vietnam. From Korea to Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis to Vietnam, Hackworth’s story is that of an exemplary patriot, played against the backdrop of the changing fortunes of America and the US military. This memoir is the stunning indictment of the Pentagon’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Vietnam conflict and of the bureaucracy of self-interest that fueled the war. With About Face, Hackworth has written what many Vietnam veterans have called the most important book of their generation and presents a vivid and powerful portrait of patriotism.

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    It's a fantastically useful book; I've used whole chapters as guides for projects I worked on.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Envisioning Information

    Envisioning Information

    Edward R. Tufte
    Cartography

    Provides practical advice about how to explain complex material by visual means, uses extraordinary examples to illustrate the fundamental principles of information display.

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    This book is in his recommended list

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • 59 Seconds

    59 Seconds

    Richard Wiseman
    Change Your Life in Under a Minute
    Self-Help

    An Easy-To-Use, Concise Guide to Changing Your Life in Under a Minute, Backed by Cutting-Edge Scientific Research.

    Buy on Amazon

    It's powerful stuff, and the book is full of great, research backed insights

    Sep 22, 2019 — Source

  • Regular Expressions Cookbook

    I've never run across a project where they didn't come in handy somewhere.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

    One hidden lesson in this book is that sometimes it doesn't matter how good your design is

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Visual Explanations

    This book is in his recommended list

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

    This book is in his recommended list

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Peopleware

    full of great, totally valid points

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Designing Web Usability

    Designing Web Usability

    Jakob Nielsen
    Computers

    A guide to designing for the Web critiques existing Web sites, suggests simple solutions for improving site usability, and offers advice on writing for the Web

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    a full-on web usability primer

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • The Design of Everyday Things

    The Design of Everyday Things

    Don Norman
    Revised and Expanded Edition
    Design

    Design doesn't have to complicated, which is why this guide to human-centered design shows that usability is just as important as aesthetics. Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious -- even liberating -- book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how -- and why -- some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

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    This book will give you a new appreciation of the 'devil in the details'.

    Feb 2, 2004 — Source

  • Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head, By Yourself

    I finally figured out what to do with my life

    Jun 16, 2020 — Source