Books I recommend

12 August 2022 ยท 1517 views ยท Updated 14 July 2023

I’m often asked for book recommendations, and I’m always happy to oblige. After all, there’s nothing I love more than talking about books!

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m a bit of a productivity junkie and an avid book reader (also listener). I’m always on the lookout for new bits of wisdom from others, more experience than myself. If at some point in life I become successful, this is the list that would have contributed to that success.

Atomic Habits (James Clear) is a fascinating book. This book helped me understand how habits are formed and how to create systems that will help us achieve our goals. By following this simple framework, we can create lasting change in our lives. Must read for everyone trying to get better at something.

Show Your Work (Austin Klein) is a great book to motivate you to do something in public. There are two key points that I’d like to highlight from this book:

  1. Share your work even if you’re not an expert. Share everything, your journey, your failures, your backstage.
  2. By sharing your work, you attract similar people who care about the same stuff you do – this can lead to many opportunities that have the potential to change your life.

The key points of “The Unfair Advantage” by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba are that success in the startup world requires a unique approach and mindset. The authors advocate for a focus on execution and a willingness to take calculated risks, as well as a commitment to constant learning and adaptation. They also emphasize the importance of building a strong team and fostering a culture of innovation.

Overall, the book offers practical advice and strategies for achieving success in the fast-paced and competitive world of startups.

In his book “Can’t Hurt Me” David Goggins shares his journey of overcoming adversity and pushing himself to the limits, both physically and mentally. This book is a sort of motivational book, but I think it’s also useful for Software Engineers looking to get into discipline and callous your mind. (Callousing your mind means you have to intentionally expose yourself to discomfort and pain.)

Some interesting takeaways:

  1. Embrace change, learn new skills, and be open to feedback and criticism. It will be painful, but it will get easier.
  2. Set big, audacious goals to get to the next level: Strive for a leadership position, take on a challenging project, or learn a new programming language.
  3. Embrace discomfort and never give up: Goggins talks about how he pushed himself to the limit, physically and mentally, in order to achieve his goals.

Clean Code is a must-read book for any software engineer, it was written by Robert C. Martin and covers topics such as naming conventions, structure, functions, and classes, as well as design patterns and testing. I’ve read this book several times once I was studying SE.

One of the key principles of clean code is the concept of “writing code for the next person” – meaning that the code should be easy to read, understand, and modify by other developers that come after you.

Other key takeaways from the book include:

  • The importance of simplicity and avoiding over-engineering solutions
  • The reasons why you should follow industry standards and best practices
  • The value of collaboration and communication within a team.

The Pathless Path is about self-exploration, finding your “own way” and not just working 9-to-5 at some big corporation waiting to live your fullest life.

This book is well suited for people considering a major career shift or contemplating an unconventional path โ€” like e.g. consulting or freelancing. It offers insights into handling the uncertainties that accompany such decisions, as well as methods to rethink work in a rapidly evolving world.

Designing Data-Intensive Applications is probably one of the few books that I’ve re-read and also listened to (they have an amazing audio version, great to listen to on a hike).

If someday you want to build a service that will be used billion times per day and doesn’t crash โ€” this book is a must-read. It gives you insights into scalability, maintainability and distributed systems. If you’re a technical co-founder and you have the option to choose a single book to read, choose this. It’s a great guide to see big-picture on growing your stack and how to not die of traffic if you end up on the front page of hackernews.

These are just a few of the many productivity-related books that I’ve read and loved. If you’re looking for ways to boost your productivity, be sure to check out these titles (and more!) from my collection.