Nobody Asked You: What books have you gifted the most often?

February 03, 2017    

This post is part of a series where I answer questions frequently asked by interviewers on various podcasts or other medium. Although nobody asked me, I often find myself thinking about the answers.

What books have you gifted the most often?

This question comes up on almost every episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast when he’s interviewing someone for the first time. It is an interesting question because I’ve recommended a lot of books to folk, typically in response to a specific question or goal they’re working on. But taking the initiative to gift the book to someone feels more like I’m saying they need to read it for one reason or another.

Clean Code by Robert C. Martin

At both my previous and current jobs, I’ve run book clubs that focused on this book. It has always led to great conversations around the various topics within. Even if the team doesn’t necessarily agree with a particular recommendation in the book, the discussion itself is worth it. It is essential that everyone is on the same page when it comes to topics like meaningful names, comments, and error handling.

You are reading this book for two reasons. First, you are a programmer. Second, you want to be a better programmer. Good. We need better programmers.

Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

Unlike most management books, this one is specifically geared towards the software industry. And yet it still espouses the same basic principle: it’s all relationships and results. This book puts a humorous twist on many situations a new manager will encounter. The author’s software background makes the material relatable to those who were developers and are now transitioning to management.

My definition of a great manager is someone with whom you can make a connection no matter where you sit in the organization chart.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Naval dragons during the Napoleonic Wars. What else do you need to know?