Book Recommendations

  • The Nomadic Developer

    The Nomadic Developerby Aaron Erickson

    Having spent almost a decade in a technology consulting firm in addition to running my own consulting practice, I was very interested in this book about the world of technology consulting. It did not disappoint. This is the book all developers should read BEFORE dipping their toes into the world of technology consulting. It covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of consulting - the companies to avoid (by type, not by name of course!), the terms newbies need to know (like "utilization"), and how to effectively move up through the ranks. It even includes a humorous consulting lexicon, and essays from several real-world consultants. These essays were especially interesting to me, because of some of them delved into the specifics of being an independent consultant.

    There were a few minor annoyances. This is the first book I read on my new Kindle 2, and I found most of the tables impossible to read, even after zooming. Also, I didn't agree with a few of his points, such as his belief that fixed-fee pricing is a bad idea. Personally, I would have loved to see a discussion of how hourly pricing has hurt the technology consulting industry, by setting up a conflict of interest between doing the most efficient thing versus doing the thing that maximizes profits. But these are minor niggles to what is otherwise a great book.

  • Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

    by Steve McConnell

    Code Complete is the definitive work on software code construction. If you are a professional software developer (in any language), you'll learn more about software development than any 10 books combined. If you are looking for code snippets to solve a particular problem, then don't look here. But if you are trying to write code that has fewer defects and is easier to maintain, then this is the book for you.

  • Shop Girl

    by Steve Martin

    This may be my most favorite fictional book of all time. It isn't particularly funny, but it provides the best analysis of a relationship that I have ever read. The characters in this book are average people, but through Martin's characterizations, we understand them more completely than with most books, and so they come to life. (Beware - this may be perceived by some as a "chick book".) 

  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET Programmer's Cookbook

    by Matthew MacDonald

    If you are new to VB.NET, or even if you are experienced, this book is a good purchase. It provides great examples of how to things in VB.NET. The examples are explained, and it is relatively easy to find your way around the book. Both Loren and I were able to get some use out of this book quickly.

  • The Good Girl's Guide to Negotiating

    by Elizabeth Austin and Leslie Whitaker

    I happened to pick this book up particularly cheap due to a Barnes and Noble warehouse sale online. The philosophy behind the book is that you can be a "good girl", and yet not be a doormat at the negotiation table. The authors make their points by using a lot of examples gathered from various women in many different situations. The book also highlights certain kinds of negotiations, and offers specific examples about them. For example, there are sections on purchasing a house, purchasing a car, and even on a divorce.

    I liked the fact that they included a lot of examples from real women. I also enjoyed the writing style - it was an easy read. I've read other books that I've liked a bit better (like Hardball for Women by Susan K. Golant), but this book is also worth reading.

  • The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

    by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

    The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master is an excellent book for all software developers who are trying to improve their craft. The book isn't very long, but it is filled with useful advice and suggestions. I probably haven't achieved "master" status yet, but every time I read it, I get a new idea about a better way of approaching software development. They've also enhanced their website substantially, and it now contains a lot of useful information that is worthwhile reading. If you write software, put this one on your bookshelf.

  • Coder to Developer

    by Mike Gunderloy

    Coder to Developer is an excellent book that covers many development topics that other books ignore or gloss over. There are three things that I particularly liked about the book:

    • The focus is on programmers on small to medium-sized teams. This is important because 1) books often pretend that small teams need to work exactly the same way as large teams, which isn't true, and 2) independent consultants can use some advice, too!
    • The book mentions specific products, and at times discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each. When you are trying to find a specific tool to address your issue, having a place to start is nice (without having to wade through the results of a google search).
    • It is an easy read. I like Mike's writing style - it is entertaining without being obnoxious.

    One concern I have about the book is its shelf-life. Because he mentions third party tools in the book, it seems to me that those tools will die out, and new tools will become available, and so as time wears on, the usefulness of that information will decay. Hopefully, Mike will decide to include some updated information on the website for his book ( or in some other fashion so that this information doesn't go out of date so quickly.

    Otherwise, I really enjoyed it, and I recommend it to all .NET software developers.


  • Don't Make Me Think

    by Steve Krug

    One of the things that is challenging about writing a book like this is that because the information is logical and may seem obvious after you read it, the tendency of readers may be to say "Duh, I knew that!" Even so, Don't Make Me Think was an interesting read, because when it helped me come up with some good ideas for revamping a site that needed a major overhaul. While he notes that his book is not really for web applications, there is still a lot of useful information you can glean from Don't Make Me Think if you are working on web applications like me (as opposed to web sites, which I rarely work on).

  • The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

    by Jason Beaird

    I really enjoyed this book. For someone like me who has little knowledge about design, and color schemes and typography, I learned a lot by reading this book. Plus, it is beautiful book - if you have a title like "The Principles of Beautiful Web Design" you had better have a beautiful cover and layout, and I think this book succeed. Definitely worth a read, especially if you are design-challenged, like me.

  • Self-Employed Tax Solutions

    by June Walker

    I really enjoyed Self-Employed Tax Solutions. The IRS publications that are supposed to help tax-payers prepare their returns are confusing and not geared to self-employed people. June's book provides clear explanations for how the tax rules affect independent workers like me. She also includes great examples that help to illustrate her points. June has an excellent blog that supplements the book with additional examples and information. She was kind enough to provide additional clarification for me on how a particular rule affects my tax situation.

    I recommend June's book for anyone who is self-employed and trying to figure out how to navigate the tax maze.