Website logo

7 Books Every Software Developer Must Read in 2021

  • by Olamide Olawale
  • January 15, 2021

It’s the new year. It is time to start executing those plans you made and ticking off the new year’s to-do-list items. For many people in the tech space, getting better as a software engineer is a top priority. Statistics have shown that there is bound to be an influx of people that want to get into the tech space, and a good number of them will be looking at the prospects of becoming Software Engineers. Becoming a great programmer or software engineer requires loads of hands-on experience, but it is also very important to keep studying and learning for you to expand your knowledge. For a software engineer, learning how to code the right way is a never-ending process that can be painstaking but it is definitely a worthy experience.

There are a lot of books you can lay your hands on as a software engineer looking to get better at his job or as an aspiring software engineer hoping to be one of the best someday. After weeks of studying, asking questions, and carrying out extensive research, I have come up with books every software developer must read in no particular order. I hope these books give you as much insight as they gave other people who have read them repeatedly.

BOOK 1 – CLEAN CODE (A Handbook of Agile Software) by Robert Cecil Martin

Clean code

This book by a software development expert himself will inspire you to develop a true software craftsman’s habits and help you become a better programmer all around. The book talks about the principles, patterns, and best practices of writing clean code. The book also consists of many case studies of increasing complexity. In this book, you would learn;

  • 1. The difference between a good code and a bad code and how to identify each of them.
  • 2. How to transform a bad code into a good code and how to write a really good code.
  • 3. How to format code for maximum readability.
  • 4. How to write good functions, good classes, good names as well as good objects.

This book is perfect for developers and engineers looking to learn how to write good code.

BOOK 2 – CODE COMPLETE 2nd Edition (A Practical Handbook of Software Construction) by Steve McConnel

Code Complete

This book is one of the favorite books of my mentor and he isn’t the only one who loves this book. The book is widely regarded as one of the best practical programming guides for developers. Code Complete talks about the most effective techniques and must-know principles of software development. In this book, you would learn;

  • 1. How to design for maximum creativity with minimum complexity.
  • 2. Debug problems faster and effectively.
  • 3. Build quality from the beginning through to the end of your project.
  • 4. Use defensive programming techniques to reduce and take out errors.

This is a book to have if you have a development project at hand.

BOOK 3 – REFACTORING (Improving The Design of Existing Code) by Martin Fowler


According to Martin Fowler himself, this book is the one he is proudest of, as it has had the highest impact on the world software development world. This book explains the process of refactoring and talks about how to do the various refactoring. In this book, you would find the following;

  • 1. Seventy refactorings: the motivation for doing them, mechanics of how to safely do them, and an example.
  • 2. Refactoring behavior transformations.
  • 3. The role of testing, And more.

Getting this book would be a big boost in your journey to becoming a top dog in the software development industry.

BOOK 4 – Head First Design Patterns (A Brain-Friendly Guide) by Elisabeth Freeman and Kathy Sierra

Design Patterns

At any given time, people struggle with the same software design programs you have. The truth is someone else has most likely already solved your problem. This version of Head First Design Patterns now updated for Java 8 shows you the tested and trusted patterns used by developers to create functional, truly elegant, reusable, and flexible software. When you are done with this book, you should be able to;

  • 1. Take full advantage of the best software design practices to solve your own design problems.
  • 2. Use the experiences of those who have fought the beast of software design and triumphed to create flawless software designs.

BOOK 5 – The Clean Coder (A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers) by Robert C Martin

Clean coder

The author of this book is the legendary Robert Martin delivers the disciplines, different techniques, tools, and practices of true software craftsmanship. The author reveals how to approach development with honor, self-respect, and pride. After going through this book you will learn;

  • 1. How a true software craftsman behaves.
  • 2. How to tackle conflict, ridiculous schedules, and troublesome manager.
  • 3. How to deal with unrelenting pressure and avoid burnout.
  • 4. How and when to say “No”.
  • 5. How and When to Say “Yes”.

Need to learn how to be a true software engineer, get this book.

BOOK 6 – The Pragmatic Programmer (From Journeyman to Master) by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

Pragmatic programmer

A book by two fantastic authors, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas cut through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development. The book equips you with the skills required to produce working and maintainable code that delights its users. In this book, you would learn; * 1. How to write code that is flexible and easy to adapt and reuse. * 2. How to fight software rot and avoid the trap of duplicating knowledge. * 3. How to build a team of pragmatic programmers that can ruthlessly and effectively test code. The Pragmatic Programmer reveals the best practices and major issues of many different aspects of product development. Whether you’re a new developer or an experienced programmer, The Pragmatic Programmer is a book you must read in 2021.

BOOK 7 – The Passionate Programmer (Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Developer) by Chad Fowler

Passionate programmer

Succeeding in the current IT environment requires that you see your career as a business endeavor. The author of this book, Chad Fowler, is a software developer, songwriter, public speaker, and investor who put together a masterpiece designed to help software engineers succeed as both developers and entrepreneurs. In this book, you will learn; * 1. How to become a Techprenuer driving your career in the direction of your choosing. * 2. How to build your career in software development. * 3. How to make the right choices on which technologies to focus on and the business domains to focus on. This book will give you the right platform you need to set your career as a developer and entrepreneur in motion.

Brian Tracy said, “The future belongs to the competent. Get good, Get Better, Be the Best. Your quest to become the best requires a lot of dedication and conscious effort to learn new things and apply them regularly. Only then can you be regarded as a competent Software Engineer. A lot of these books are available for purchase and download online but you can also acquire them in hard copies.

Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “A Room Without Books Is Like A Body Without A Soul.”

Love this article? Check out other similar pieces in our blog.

Leave a Reply