DEV Community

Cover image for How to Read Technical Books 📚
Jenn Herrarte
Jenn Herrarte

Posted on

How to Read Technical Books 📚

Hello! Happy 2024! THIS is the year where we're picking up the stack of software engineering books that are collecting dust and cracking them open.

Last year, I started reading Designing Data-Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann. One page in, and I realized reading it was going to be a doozy. Getting through the material taught me that reading technical books requires a level of effort that goes beyond reading your average book. Here are my top tips for reading technical material.

TIP #1 - Draw it out ✍🏽

For example, if the text lists out the pros and cons of using a specific technology, draw it out in an actual chart. So many of these books don't have pictures (can we please change this)so drawing goes a long way. If there’s an analogy that comes to mind when reading about a concept, draw it out! I enjoy using Figma to create slides containing all my visuals.


TIP #2 - Use ChatGPT 💻

Use ChatGPT to look up any keywords or phrases you don’t understand, especially if the text doesn’t explain what it is. For example, if there’s a paragraph talking about how nodes communicate through routing packets and you’re like what is a route packet???, just look it up.

pro tip: use the voice feature in the chaptgpt mobile app for quick answers on the go.


TIP #3 - Read Blogs 💡

Read engineering blogs that show real-life examples or case studies that help solidify the concepts you are reading about. For example, this blog post from Educative covers the Ticketmaster meltdown from a system design perspective and this might have affected you personally if you’re a swiftie!

Tip #4 - Teach the material 🍎

My last tip is to teach the material! You can do this via blog posts, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. I started a book club recently that covers one chapter of Designing Data-Intensive Applications a month, which adds a level of positive pressure to study and understand the material. Teaching the material solidifies it in your brain.


I hope this helps! Let me know in the comments what you're all reading.

Top comments (0)