The Importance Of Reading As A Software Engineer

Many view reading as a waste of valuable time, so why should you set aside time for it?

I’ve recently been reading ‘Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual’ by John Sonmez. The book covers a wide range of topics regarding the life of a developer, in fact, pretty much everything except coding itself.

One aspect that got me thinking was that he mentioned every famous or hypersuccessful person he met had a book that they recommend everyone read (He has a list of all the books at the end of Soft Skills).

Obviously if all these successful people had books to recommend, they must have read a lot of books! Why have successful people read a lot of books? Perhaps there is a correlation (not necessarily a causation) between reading and success in our field, perhaps all fields.

I believe there IS a correlation between these two things, and that all developers hoping to be successful at any level should set aside time to read some interesting books about software engineering. I’m not going to tell you WHICH books to read, because frankly I don’t think it matters.

Find a couple books interesting to you, maybe from this list of the Top 100 Best Software Engineering Books Ever, and get a copy of it (I prefer e-books myself).

Don’t bother trying to read them in one sitting, or even over a couple days. You’ll burn out really fast and think the whole thing pointless, and it probably will be if you do that. Read them over a 2 week period, at a leisurely pace so you have time to ‘file away’ some of the knowledge in your head.

Even if the book isn’t something directly related to your daily work, you may be able to spot analogies to your own work that are useful. You may be able to get a different view point on a problem that you’re ‘too close to’ to spot a solution.

Obviously there are other reasons to read books as well, such as learning a new technology, or expanding your skill set. But I think these are slightly besides the main point and are just a bonus.

So there, that’s why I think that reading is important for all software engineers!

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