From 《Soft Skill》——Chapter 69.
There have been many excellent books that have greatly influenced what I believe and how I behave. I try to spend at least some time every day reading or listening to the audio version of a book that will improve my life in some way.
When I first started my career, I spent a large amount of time reading software-development–focused books. Now, I spend more of my time reading books that have a wider application.
I’ve made it a habit of asking any famous or highly successful person who I’ve met what one book he or she would recommend that everyone should read. Through this quest, I’ve uncovered many impactful books that have literally changed my life.
In this chapter, I’m going to give you the list of the best and most influential books I’ve ever read—both on the software development and non-software development side.
Self-help and inspirational books
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Books, 2002)
I’ll start with one of my favorite books of all time. This book gave words to a frustration I long held in regards to work and why it’s so difficult to just sit down and do it.
In this book, Pressfield identifies this mysterious force we all encounter when we sit down to try and do anything meaningful. He says this force, resistance, is the secret and ambivalent destroyer of all of our attempts to traverse from a lower calling to a higher one.
Just by identifying this common enemy within us, we start to gain power over it. If you’re having trouble with procrastination or just finding the motivation to go forward and do what you know you should be doing, you’ll find this book immensely useful.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (Reprint- t, Gallery Books, 1998)
This book is another one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. This book changed my personal views in many ways and has helped me achieve success in dealing with people that I hadn’t thought possible before.
Before I read this book, I was a staunch believer in negative reinforcement to modify the behavior of others. I felt compelled to enforce my own strict disciplinarian standards on others. I believed that when someone was wrong, it was important to tell them so; that the best way to motivate a person was through the threat of punishment.
After reading this book, my views changed 180 degrees. I realized that negative reinforcement was almost completely futile—that the only way to get people to do what you wanted was to compel them to want to do it.
If there is any book on this list you must read, this is the one. I firmly believe everyone should read this book. I’ve read it at least a dozen times, and every time I go back and read it again, I gain a new insight.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (Wilder Publications, 2007)
This first time I tried to read this book, I put it down in frustration. The second time, I got a little further, but again thought the book was a bit too crazy for my liking. Finally, after speaking to multiple highly successful people who recommended this book—some who completely attributed their success to it—I decided to read it again.
This book is a little strange. It basically purports that if you believe a thing and you hold onto and reinforce that belief, it will become reality. I’ll warn you, there isn’t much science to this approach. The book doesn’t even try to come up with the science to explain it, but by whatever means this works, I’ve seen it work in my life and many others will swear by it as well.
The idea of a mastermind group actually originates from this book. There are many other important concepts in this book that will help you to learn how to change your own beliefs, which may have a powerful effect on your life.
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (Reprint, Pocket Books, 1989)
In many ways this book reminds me of Think and Grow Rich, but a scientific version of it. This book was written by a plastic surgeon who discovered that when he changed people’s faces, it actually changed their personalities. This caused him to do research into self-image and to discover some important ways that our self-image has the power to completely change our lives for the good or the bad.
I found this book to have some very good insights on how the mind works and how it affects our bodies. This book is full of all kinds of practical applications of methods to change your attitude, your self-image, and your beliefs for the positive.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (Reprint, - Touchstone, 2003)
This book is a bit religious, so be forewarned, but the overall message of this book is very powerful. The idea that positive thinking can have a profound impact on your life is one that I adamantly subscribe to. If you’re trying to develop a more positive attitude, this book can certainly help you do that.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Reprint, Signet, 2005)
You’ll either love this book or hate it, but either way, it will make you think. This book is fiction—and it’s long at around 1,200 pages—but it asks some very serious questions about life, economics, and work.
Software development books
Code Complete by Steve McConnell (Microsoft Press; 2nd edition, 2004)
This book completely changed the way I wrote code. After I read this book was the first time I felt like I was writing and understood what good code was. The examples in this book are primarily written in C++, but the concepts transcend any individual language.
This book is a complete guide to writing good code and structuring that code at a very low level. While many software development books focus on higher-level design, this is one of the only books I’ve found that focuses on details like how to name variables and structure the actual code inside of an algorithm.
If I ever own a software development shop, this book will be required reading by all developers I hire. This has definitely been the most influential software development book I’ve ever read.
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship by Robert M- Martin (Prentice Hall, 2008)
Reading this book was an absolute joy. Code Complete taught me how to write good code; Clean Code refined that knowledge and helped me understand how to take that knowledge to a complete codebase and design.
This book is another book I consider required reading for any software developer. The concepts in this book will help you to become a better developer and to appreciate why simple and understandable is better than clever.
Head First Design Patterns by Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson, Ber- rt Bates, and Kathy Sierra (O’Reilly Media, 2004)
It might seem a bit strange that I’d recommend this book over the classic Design Patterns book, but this book does an excellent job of making design patterns approachable and understandable.
Don’t get me wrong, the Design Patterns book is a great book and introduced the idea of the classic design patterns in software development, but this book does a much better job of explaining them. If you’re going to read one design patterns book, read this one.
The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller (McGraw-Hill, 2005)
If I had to recommend one book on real estate investing, this would be it. This book explains exactly why real estate investing is such a good idea and how to get rich from it, and it gives you an exact plan for doing so.
This book contains plenty of charts that show you exactly how real estate investment pays off over the long run and it isn’t filled with a lot of “fluff.”
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (Demco Media, 2000)
This was another life-changing book for me that changed the way I looked at money and finance. This book changed my view of how money works and what it means to have a job and work for someone else. After reading this book I clearly understood how important it is to create assets and to reduce your expenses.
My only complaint with this book is that it doesn’t really tell you how. Still, there’s valuable advice in this book—and Kiyosaki’s entire Rich Dad series—and I’d highly recommend it.
No-Hype Options Trading: Myths, Realities, and Strategies That Re- eally Work by Kerry Given (Wiley, 2011)
Lots of financial books promise ridiculous returns and make outrageous claims, but this one doesn’t. Instead, it presents the facts and helps you realistically understand how options trading works and some practical strategies you can employ to make money, along with the inherent risk those strategies will incur. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking into getting into options trading, or just want to understand it better.