10 must-read books for developers

With legions of aspiring developers now back at school or getting settled into new jobs, the time's ripe to look at the best books ever -- from a developer's point of view

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If you veer off the developer-centric track for a moment, many classics would broaden the horizons of any aspiring analyst. "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter (1979) and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig (1974) always come up as manifestos of the developer class.

Sticking to developing, though, I'm surprised that these didn't make the top 10:

"Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship" by Robert Martin (2008), emphasizes the importance of building code that can be digested, working through lots of real-world examples. It covers some of the same ground as Martin's earlier book, "Agile Software Development," and sets the stage for Martin's new book, "The Clean Coder."

"Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" by Charles Petzold (2000) should be on the short list of everyone who's involved in the computer industry, developer or not. Petzold covers the basics -- number systems, high-level languages, comm protocols, hardware, GUIs -- and doesn't overwhelm with jargon.

For anyone destined to a corporate IT job, these three should be required reading:

"Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture" by Martin Fowler (2002) helps corporate developers recognize common patterns in real-world problems, and digs into solution details for each pattern.

"Coders at Work" by Peter Seibel (2009) takes case histories -- which is to say, influential developers' real-life stories -- and weaves them into a powerful view of how 15 of the industry's best and brightest kicked some serious technical butt.

"Peopleware" (2nd edition. 1999) by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister emphasizes the human element in software development and how to put together a project that actually gets work done.

I won't say that list is definitive, but if there's a nascent developer, developer wannabe, or burned-out developer seeking inspiration in your circle of friends, do them a favor and get them one of these books.

This story, "10 must-read books for developers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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