4 non-technical books every developer should read

Larry Cinnabar on February 10, 2019

When programmers ask "What to read?", some very technical and programmer-only books are usually advised to be read. But what about non-technical, o... [Read Full]
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Great list! Here's my 2(well, 3)cents :
Just for Fun - The story of an accidental revolutionary (Linus Torvalds' authorized biography)

Deep Work - Cal Newport

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers - a thoroughly entertaining biography of the prolific and (let's just say) different, Hungarian Mathematician Paul Erdos.


I can think of the book called Writing Well by William Zinsser in terms of writing and another that I love is called To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink that talks about the art of persuasion which is in the context of your average person.


"sell is human" is already in my to-read-list


Great recommendations! I also wanted to say I loved how you used the code snippets as the headings; that was really creative and a nice way to set the text apart. Going to see if I can borrow that in the future. :)


Algorithms to live by was fascinating and really entertaining. Definitely worth the read. Life 3.0 was definitely good and insightful, but I found I had to read it in chunks or I got a little bored with it.


A bit offtopic - I just wonder how could you read translated books when you can speak English more than well enough?

As far as suggestions go:

  • Arthur Koestler - Ghost In The Machine
  • Herbert Simon - Sciences of the Artificial
  • Carver and Scheier - On The Self-Regulation of Behavior
  • Hank Reardon - Time Management 2.0

I can read English books as well, it's just much faster for me to read in Russian. Exception is fiction, of course. Just because translators may spoil everything.

Thanks for your books suggestion


Funny how we approach things in opposite ways - I would never dream of reading good fiction in English because of the larger vocabulary I would need to appreciate the experience. That's also the reason why I find reading non-fiction in English almost mandatory (hence made the comment in the first place).

Makes sense too, but it happens that non-fiction such as business or motivational books can have a huge vocabulary too


Here are two self help books I really enjoyed.

Atomic Habits - talks about everything habits. Highly recommend.
Verbal Judo - this book is about empathy and communication in general. A highly valuable skill for engineers.


I have found that Williams's Style: Towards Clarity and Grace is a much better text on writing than Stephen King's. When I was teaching writing, the material in Williams produced concrete improvement in my students' writing. There was basically nothing in King that would.


Thanks for a hint. I'll look into it.

I think I just like King's "a little arrogant" style


Nice list of recommendations! You've convinced me to give a couple of the books a shot :)

To answer your question at the end - the non-technical book I enjoyed the most in the last year was Factfulness by Hans Rosling - goodreads.com/book/show/34890015-f...

It's a book about how we're wrong in thinking about the world, especially "third-world countries", and how the world is actually a much better place than we think. Hans Rosling's TED talk called "Best stats you've ever seen" is actually a good intro to the book. Hope you enjoy that - youtube.com/watch?v=usdJgEwMinM


Ha, my colleague holds this book for couple weeks already on his workplace and I was very interested to take a look into it


Matt Haig - The Humans
Robin Hobb - The Farseer Trilogy
David Eagleman - Sum: Tales from the Afterlives
Jeff Vandermeer - The Southern Reach Trilogy
Tim Ferriss - Tribe of Mentors


Great collection, thanks for sharing! "Martian" is certainly an outstanding book! Added "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" to my to-read list :)


💯 for Richard Feynman and Yuval Noah Harari. Both books rank high on my list, haven't read the other 2 yet though.

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