No backspacing blog - @Xi Xiao

Ten books to read for every programmer

I confess that I love books very much.

I spend more than 6 hours per week to read books—or rather, most of time listen to audible when I’m commuting or walking.

Most of things I learned in recent years are directly attributable to the books I’ve read. The biggest regret I have is that I hadn’t read as nearly enough amount of books as I could at young age.

Books are my mentors as I do not have any real mentor around in real life.

When I need to figure out how to write good code, I turn to books.

When I want to advance my software engineer career, I turn to books.

When I desire to learn people skill—books.

When I wish to learn investing—again books.

Books, books, books and more books.

In this thread, I am listing down some of my favorite books. Hopefully it is as useful for you as it was for me!

Here you go. books are put into these categories as below.

Self Imporvement

I know, you already ask—“hey book-boy, you said it is books for programmers, what are these?”

I hear you buddy. Firstly, dont call me book-boy, I am Xi. Secondly, be a self teaching, self evolving man (or woman), find and stick to your own self esteem, is so important in the long run that it is absolutely worthwhile for anybody, including you and me, to be good at this topic.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

This is my all time favorite, ranking #1. If I need to pick one and only one book to learn from, this is the one.

Regardless what profession you hold—including software engineer, it is never enough to tell how important people skills are to you. It is always, ALWAYS, the ones who have better people skills excel, get better paid as well as gain more attention from others—rather than those who have better professional skills. Agree?

In this book, Dale Carnegie teaches how to communicate to people, be more people like, lead, sell ideas and more. These advices remain priceless across the ages.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I haven’t finished this book—read only first three habits so far, yet it already got me thinking, a lot.

When I read this book, I tend to close eyes, slow down the narrative to 0.75 speed, review scenarios took place in life, and make virtual connection to the author.

The first three chapters talk about how to change from a dependent to an indepent person. It’s the pure wisdom from the author.

I am looking forward to finish this book and apply things from it.


Luckly, programmers have above-average income and comparatively lower unemployment rate than other industries. However, this does not necessarily mean we know and are aware of the importance of investing. In the contrast, I know there are many programmers do not invest a dime each month.

We spent years to sharpen our engineering skills to get better paid, yet we don’t want to set aside some time to get to know how “money makes money”?

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

This book opened the door of personal financial concept for me. Anybody who desires to achieve financial freedom need to read it.

Btw, we, humanity, love story telling, we learn things easier and quicker from stories. And this book exemplifies it.

The Intelligent Investor

The bible book in investment by Benjamin Graham. It is written in 1949 and has been claimed by Warren Buffett as the best investing book ever written. It lays the solid fundation to coach how to correctly investing via stock market.

If you have enough time, read from this book then extend to other good ones, or you can come back to it when you feel the need to solidify the groundings of investing.

One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market

I have read several amazon high rating books about stock trading. This one from Peter Lynch is the best for beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of stock trading. Peter does a great job in sharing his wise insight and experience with as few jargons as possible.

If you want to improve your skills on picking up high potential stocks, read this one.


Finally, it is about software engineering and programming. There are many splendid books in the computer world. My list below is focused on how to write better code.

Clean code

In my opinion, this is the best among series books of Uncle Bob’s. I’m not saying other books of his aren’t good, this clean code is exceptionally god damn good.

The core concept in this book is to teach how to write easy-to-read code.

Every professional programmer should have this book on the book shelf. Not yet on yours? Shame on you.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Master piece and a thick brick. It covers almost all topics that a professional programmer needs to be good at. Some chapters are slightly aged, but the mindset inside is timeless.

I have only read 50+ pages—this is why I am not a good programmer (yet).

Working Effectively with Legacy Code

This book is recommended by Uncle Bob, and it has extraordinary good rating in Amazon.

Every programmer needs to read code written by others from time to time, but few is armed with the proper skill to refactor legacy code without introdcing new bugs.

I wish I could have time to read it, at least once, by end of year 2018.

The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide

The authro John Sonmez is my idol. Software engineer is just one of many hats he wears and wears well.

  • He has made 51 online courses in pluralsight in 3 years
  • He reached financial freedom in 32 year old
  • He is a muscular person visiting gym frequently
  • He is a host of many podcast programs
  • He is a famous youtube channel host
  • His business values milloins of dollars.
  • Many more


These books I (will) read repeatedly in order to stamp as much knowledge as possible to my brain. There are yet other books constantly adding to the list.

What books do you read? Share them in the commenting zone below.