I Pulled My Bookshelf Out of the Closet — Have You Read Any?

Here is the list of books that I have read in either distant or recent past. Have you read or heard about some of these? What do you think of them? Feel free to comment!


  • Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check. Guy is a startup veteran and a venture capitalist who doesn’t need to earn living by writing books. And that is what makes this book a treasure.
  • John Nesheim, High Tech Start Up. It gives a nice understanding and vocabulary on anything that happens to VC-funded high-tech companies on Silicon Valley since idea conception to IPO. I read this book around year 2002, and got my first startup education and startup bacillus from exactly that book.
  • John Nesheim, The Power of Unfair Advantage. More how-to kind of guide on finding/developing a competitive advantage and creating a decent business plan around it. Some believe writing a 40-page business plan doesn’t really correlate to the probabilities of getting funded, but it still helps to think about the key questions and the book really engages you into this.

Software Engineering

  • Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis M. Ritchie, C Programming Language. The C book by the authors of the C programming language. I read it perhaps in 1993 or 1994. At that time, from all the programming books I had seen, I realized it has the best methodical approach as a programming tutorial. I still think so, and in addition to that, I now also realize it is the book that had the greatest impact on my professional career.
  • Bjarne Stroustrup, The C++ Programming Language. The C++ book by the author of the C++ programming language. This is the second must-have after the C Programming Language, if you want to become a kick-ass programmer. Even, if it is a PHP+Javascript website without a line of C/C++ to be set up, the programmers, who speak C/C++… well… are just of a different caliber, than those who don’t. End of story.
  • Alistair Cockburn, Agile Software Development. If there is only one book that is allowed to recommend to software project managers, I’d recommend this one. The name of the game in effective software development (assuming the qualified people are present) is motivations and communication and I think Alistair is hitting one point after another on how to play that game.
  • Kent Beck, Extreme Programming Explained. The description of a software development methodology by the methodoly author himself. I don’t know, if eXtreme Programming as a methodology is useful to anybody or not, because I haven’t seen it in full-blown action myself. But I think I can say at least two things about it. First, it deserves to be titled as a methodology — it is not just another babble about testing, iterative development and what not, just using different names for things — it really has some unique ideas on how to do something. Second, although the most buzz about eXtreme Programming is generated by the pair-programming concept in it, the actual maker-or-breaker of the entire framework is testing. Most of the unique practices of XP are heavily dependent on the ability to do 100% automated testing. If you are not able to ensure that, forget about XP. If you achieve the automated test coverage, you might succeed in implementing some other XP practice, if you think you need those.

Personal Development

  • Andy Hunt, The Pragmatic Programmer. If you follow the guidelines of this book, you’ll develop yourself into a decent professional programmer in general. The book is the collection of good practices and skills you should develop in yourself. I think that the word pragmatic in the title lacks the focus in the book, but I think it is easily fixable — just follow the guidelines in the book so, that you always at the same time also answer to the question “how to reach my goal with the fastest, easiest and least-effort fashion”, and you’ll turn yourself more and more into a kick-ass pragmatic programmer.
  • Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive. A decent guide on time management. If you have more stuff to do than time for getting it all done (which I hope is the case), then managing it properly will make a difference in your life.
  • W. J. King, The Unwritten Laws of Business. A bit freshed edition of a 40-year old book by W. J. Kink, Unwritten Laws of Engineering. Although, it might still sound a bit old-fashioned writing style on spots, it is a very valid and good list of do-s and don’t-s on conducting a successful career.


  • Cyriac R. Roeding, Secrets of Software Success. A decent academic research on common denominators of 100 successful software companies of different nature (mass product companies, enterprice solutions companies, development service companies). I had it as a recommended reading by my post-graduate supervisor, and I enjoyed the reading — well written, well structured, good case studies, engaging etc.
  • Paul Wiefels, The Chasm Companion. If you need some concise education on product development, marketing, and… well, the entire product lifecycles, then this one is for you. Paul is the pal of Geoffrey A. Moore. Geoffrey wrote the famous Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado, and Paul’s book talks about the same stuff, using same concepts and terminology. Although, Geoffrey has the fame, I think Paul’s book is better. Geoffrey stays in theoretical level, Paul gets more into practical, and does better job on well-followed structure and covering the entire product lifecycle until its death.
  • Jim Collins, Built to Last. A decent academic research on common denominators of 18 companies who have been top companies for more than half century. I had it as a required reading by my post-graduate minor subject (Learning Organization) supervisor. The book is a bit misaligned with most of nowadays business world’s motivations that are related to very short-term goals, but is still very inspiring as a management book. It delivers the findings that are strongly linked to the field observations, conducted over the 6 years by the team managed by Jim.

Communication Skills

  • Roger Fisher, Getting to Yes. This one inspires you to stick to the default attitude to look for win-win solutions whenever you interact with different interests. The book is one of the most famous in that area — I wanted to read something on this topic and I chose to read this book mostly because this was the first I recalled I have heard about at different moments in my earlier life.
  • Suzanne Bates, Speak Like a CEO. Behind the bold title there is actually a practical course on communication skills that everybody should pay attention to, not just CEOs.

Philosophy of Science

  • Michael Quinn Patton, Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. The art of asking open ended questions and making science out of it. I had to read it when I pursued my (unfinished) post-graduate studies on such a social science field, as software engineering.
  • Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Written in 1961, revised in 1966, it is a timeless and engaging textbook on how science evolves through events that are better described by such terms as crisis, revolutions, fall and rise of schools, rather than monotonous sequence of incremental and evolutionary improvements. Pretty much the same pattern that happens every now and then in high-tech business… 😉

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