Six Essential Language Agnostic Programming Books
A gentleman emailed thanking me for http://www.hanselman.com/tools, and suggested I make a list of great Programming Books. I don't think it'll be as long as the Tools List, but here's my list. I specifically made the list Language Agnostic. Also, many of these books are by authors who write gold. That means, nearly everything they write is worth taking a look at. I haven't listed every book they've written, in those cases, just their "Greatest Hits."
When it comes to programming languages, I'm not a religious zealot or C# apologist. My religion in these matter is strict Apatheism. I just don't care enough to fight (except for VB people. They're just nuts. (kidding!)) . Pick the language that makes you smile and ships the project. It is for this reason that I prefer to read Language Agnostic Computer Books.
|Code Complete - Steve McConnell - Darn near a bible of software development goodness, Code Complete reminds us of our priorities. It's essential and everyone who writes code should read this book.||The Pragmatic Programmer - Andrew Hunt and Dave Thomas - I like to read this book at least every six months or so. It's clean, clever, clear and full of concrete tips you can use to be a better, simpler, pragmatic programmer. A new classic.||Programming Pearls - Jon Bentley - This may feel initially like a C book, but it's really an algorithms book at its heart. It's old school with techniques and thought problems that can be applied today, even in language like Ruby and C#.|
|Refactoring - Fowler, Beck, Brant, Opdyke, Roberts - Although the language used is Java, the concepts are universal. This is a very linear, easy to read, learn by example book. If you think you know how to refactor, but you haven't read this book, pick it up and refresh yourself. You'll find names for Refactorings you've used for years and you'll definitely not only pick up new ones, but be better able to spot opportunities to use them.||Design of the UNIX Operating System - So few programmers today can answer questions like "explain how virtual memory is managed" or "how are Unix processes different from Windows." How did we get here. Know your history.||Design Patterns - Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides- One of the comments on Amazon says it best, "It is expected that any professional developer has read this book front-to-back. Buy it, read it, then put it in your bathroom and read it when convenient. Also, when you're done, spend some time at the Portland Pattern Repository.
UPDATE: There's some GREAT comments below, and I'm looking into each of them and putting together a list on Amazon.com. I made some pretty obvious gaffes (it was late. ;) ) by not including SICP (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs) or TAOCP as well as Types and Programming Languages. A number of folks said the list wasn't very language agnostic because it's very "C" and imperative language focused. Good points all!
What books did I miss, Dear Reader?