Do you read code? Reading code can help you learn to write better code. Whether that is database queries, JavaScript, CSS or your favorite programming language. You should read as much code as you can. Programming books can be a great source of code to read. Everyone who writes code should have a few favorite books on writing and designing code on their bookshelf.

Here is a sample of books that I have on my bookshelf:

  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • Creative Code
  • The Strategic Web Designer
  • Don’t Make Me Think!
  • Always Be Testing
  • Bonus: The Magna Guide to Databases

Programming books on shelf

The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

Want to be a programmer? The Pragmatic Programmer is a practical guide on the best practices of software development. Whether you are new to programming or experience, you can find tips and tricks to help you write better code. The authors, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, use tips, stories, code and diagrams to help you learn new skills and habits.

Creative Code by John Maeda

Is programming a creative process? Creative Code shows that it is. This book has an wide variety of essays that talk about design issues and how to integration digital design into our daily lives. While not a typical programming book, the focus is on design and how to challenge your approach to problems.

The Strategic Web Designer by Christopher Bulter

How do be more than just a web designer? As you develop web projects, your clients need you to do more than design or code a website. They need you to think about their projects in a strategic and comprehensive manner. The Strategic Web Designer helps you to take charge of your web projects from design to launch and beyond.

Don’t Make Me Think! by Steve Krug

How do you keep people on your website? Many people leave websites for different reasons. They leave if it takes to long to load, too difficult to do anything or they can’t read it on their phone. How usable a web site is depends not only on the design, but on decisions made by the developer. Steve Krug wrote the original guide on Web Usability. In Don’t Make Me Think, his tips range from design to testing. He helps you to make your website better and more usable for your users.

Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar

Test. Test. And test some more if you want your website to more sales, leads and profits. In Always Be Testing, Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar explain how to use the Google Website Optimizer to test your website and to get your visitors to take action. Whether that action is subscribing to a newsletter, purchasing your product or sharing your latest post. They teach you how to develop a testing framework, optimize your landing pages and design tests.

Bonus Book

The Magna Guide to Databases by Mana Takahaski, Shoko Azuma and Trend-Pro Co., LTD.

The Magna Guide to Databases explains database through the use of a Magna story. When I found the book, I had never read any Magna. It was a fun refresher of how databases worked. I liked the way they introduce the story and how databases would help the main character, Princess Ruran solve her data problem. You learn with the Princess and Cain the concepts of a database and why they are important. In the Manga Guide to Databases, you switch from story to databases and back to the story. They build upon the database concepts presented in the story.


Technology changes quickly. Information in programming books can get quickly out of date. That shouldn’t stop you from reading programming books. You never know when you may find something that helps you on your next project. Keep reading and writing code.

What are a few of your favorite books?