Ah, books—the time-tested technique for ingesting knowledge. Programming literature may not be as engaging as Codecademy or CodeCombat, but it will help reinforce concepts and provide perspectives you’d be hard-pressed to find in an online course. Here are five books you should read as you begin your journey as a web developer. Keep in mind that these books won’t teach you to code, so they’re not substitutes for an online course or a coding bootcamp like DigitalCrafts—but they are excellent supplements!
Thanks to frameworks like React and Elm, Functional Programming (FP) has made a huge resurgence in the development community. Yet very few developers understand the basics of Functional Programming beyond the .map() and .forEach() methods.
More individuals than ever are joining the developer workforce from a background outside of Computer Science. While you don’t need a CS degree to be a great developer, a grounding in Computer Science can foster a love of clever problem solving and design patterns to help you write smarter code.
It’s unlikely you’ll learn CS basics in a coding bootcamp, but you don’t need to sacrifice four years of your life and $150k on a degree!
Grokking Algorithms is a delightfully unpretentious introduction to hallmark algorithms in Computer Science. The easy-to-follow explanations and colorful illustrations have made it a favorite with my students and mentees.
This is a book you shouldn’t just read. Instead, I recommend scribbling on a whiteboard and pulling up a text editor to implement the algorithm as you read. Better yet, you can code it up with a Test Driven Development (TDD) approach: write tests first, then code up the solution to make the tests pass! Here’s an excellent introduction to TDD from the folks at dwyl.
Grokking Algorithms is surprisingly comprehensive, but if you find algorithms as fun as my mentees have, you’ll quickly run out. Vaidehi Joshi’s basecs project features illustrated guides to a growing list of algorithms and was recently turned into a podcast.
For hardcore bookworms, Kyle Simpson also sells a hard copy.
5. Mozilla Developer Network Tutorials
And of course, MDN is the authoritative source for reference documentation on any browser web API.
6. Books by Dead People
Reading is one of the best ways to cultivate your brain powers, so why stop with programming literature? We are continuously bombarded with the news and opinions of our time, but classic literature provides a chance to step back and glean wisdom from our collective past.
Read books by dead people, especially classic literature like:
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein
- Agatha Christie’s mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot
Pick good literature to fill your brain attic with. If the last time you read was in high school, delight yourself with just how many subtleties you missed in your English classes. You just might watch Netflix (a little) less, thanks to your newly-developed craving for reading.
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