Five non-technical books for software engineers
These books have helped me not only become a better software engineer, but also a better person in general. Because life isn’t always about work. Before I dive in to the list, I just wanted to quickly point out that these titles are all available as audiobooks as well. Which is how I usually read non-technical books. It’s a great way to make use of the dead time during your commute.
Deep Work — Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport
I loved Deep Work, there is a lot of wisdom shared in this book that’s particularly relevant to software engineering. In a world where the average people’s attention span is as long as an Instagram story, Cal Newport describes how to work on things that require deep concentration and prolonged effort. Along with attention restoration techniques — take breaks, your mind will be fresher after a break.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
Essentialism is another great book that maps to software engineering perfectly. As a software engineer it can sometimes be hard to figure out what to focus our time on, we have an overwhelming amount of ever-changing options. This book introduces you to techniques that allow you to accomplish more by doing less. I particularly enjoyed the section about learning to say no more often.
Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
by James Clear
Atomic Habits is an extremely practical book that immediately persuaded me to start improving my habits. He defines the four main principles of habit change; make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying. This book has helped me shape my morning routine to include time to learn and work on tasks that were aligned with my career goals.
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown.
by Daniel Coyle
The Talent Code busts the myth that people are born with talent, by revealing the real work behind the seemingly naturally talented people. In one such example, he describes his research into why Brazil produces so many world class Soccer players. I found this very applicable to the field of software engineering, as it may seem that some people are just naturally brilliant engineers. This book helps you realize that anyone who puts in the time and effort can become great at a particular skill.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
Simply put, this book will change your life. I wish I had read it earlier on in my career. Software engineering isn’t just about writing code. A vital skill for your career journey is the ability to work well with others. There are many pieces of sage advice in this book. One thing that has stuck with me; never criticize people. Anyone can do that, it takes character to show understanding.
I hope this has introduced you to some new and interesting reading material.