Why developers should read books

Those who read, get better #HoskWisdom

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body – Joseph Addison

 

Yesterday was world book day  #WorldBookDayUK #WorldBookDay, its like an extra birthday for me because I’m allowed to buy a book without being told I already have mountains of books to read.  it’s a big event where children go to school dressed as their favourite characters (see mini Hosk’s above).

I believe people should read more books, I will outline the benefits of reading to try and persuade developers to pick up a book

Below are reading numbers, it varies between countries, ages and skewed by book worms.

The page from 2016 – How many books does the average person read

The average number of books each person read over the course of a year was 12…but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year

 

This post from 2016 – How many books does the average British person read per year?

According to a YouGov survey, the mean number of books read for pleasure by adults in the UK is around 10 each year, and the median is around 4

 

The average person reads 4 books a year (I wonder how many they finish), an impressively low number when you consider the hours watching terrible TV or time spent on social media (I’m guilty of this too).

Why don’t developer read books

The common reasons developers don’t read are

  • People view books as old fashioned
  • They don’t want to invest the time to read a book
  • Easy to search for answers on the internet, you need not read a book
  • Many prefer reading articles
  • Developers watch videos on Youtube, DLP or Pluralsight, etc

Evidence for developers not reading books is in the number of books for developers.  Lots of people earn a living as a developer/software engineer but the number of books available is low.  Not many technical books sell in large numbers (this may be due to them degrading quickly with new versions of software etc)

Developers learn through trying to figure out problems and if they can’t resolve it they search for the answer on the internet.

stackoverflow.com was created because the creators felt developers were reading less, read about the concept here

Programmers seem to have stopped reading books. The market for books on programming topics is miniscule compared to the number of working programmers.

Instead, they happily program away, using trial-and-error. When they can’t figure something out, they type a question into Google.

 

Jeff Atwood of Coding horror blog (whose book I read Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code) has a good post  Programmers Don’t Read Books  But You Should 

Jeff mentions many technical books are poorly written, uninteresting loaf of bread sized beasts you can barely pick up let alone read.  You can skip the introduction chapter of most of them as they summarise the invention of a programming language or the internet.

Offices are littered with huge technical books squatting on developers desks either elevating monitors or with the goal of making the developer seem more knowledgeable.

You learn how and why

When you copy and paste code, a unicorn dies a slow painful death #HoskCodeWisdom

The common approach for developers is to get a task, search for the answer on the internet, copy the code and go onto the next task.

This skips the learning,  leaving the developer with the answer but not the knowledge and stops the developer from learning.  The approach is inefficient, the developer doesn’t acquire the knowledge to avoid trouble and only able to find solution to problems after they have arisen.  It’s difficult to search for solutions if you lack the understanding to diagnose problems, you can hit many dead ends before finding the solution.

With difficult problems with no solutions on the internet the developer gets stuck, not having the  knowledge or skills to resolve the problem.

Books give  you depth

I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it – Woodrow Wilson

 

Reading a book is like conversing with an expert, a 1-1 with the best software engineer you have ever met.

Writing a book involves  thinking and writing deeply on a subject and putting their best ideas in a way the reader can understand them.  Focused concentration allows the writer to get deep into the subject and explain the why behind the subject.

Great programming books are popular and relevant for years because its not writing the code but the design, decoupling, SOLID Principles, design patterns, naming which are important to create simple code.  This advice will be useful as long as humans are writing code.

If you want to improve as a Dynamics developer read this How to improve as Dynamics 365 developer, it has links for designing and writing better code articles

Short cut to success

The misconception about reading books is it‘s a long process,  people don’t have enough time to read and it’s a slow method to learn.  Reading books allows you to learn from the experience, ability and ideas of a talented and experienced developer.

Reading a book is your will use the best practices the author has learnt and avoid the mistakes they made.  Reading a book is working smarter not harder.

Stop to think

Reading focuses your thoughts and your concentration on one thing. You benefit from authors ideas and overlay your experiences and thoughts.

Time spent thinking is never wastedit helps you clarify your thoughts and understand 

Ideas

Reading is useful tool to improving your knowledge and improve your craft.  You should aim to become craftsman, consistently improving your technique.

Are you a Dynamics Craftsman or a CRM developer?

Reading books on other subjects gives you a different view  of developing and helps you create new ideas by combining different ideas and concepts from other professions

If you worked with great developers you wouldn’t need to read their books because you could talk with them but for most of us reading a book is the nearest we can get.

Good developers read books

The best developers I have worked with read books because they want to learn.  A great way to learn is from someone who is an expert on a subject and reading a book is a method to access an expert.

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

CEO’s read 4-5 books per month according to the article – how many books does the average person read, lists of not technical recommended reading below and reading habits

If you need help to read more books these articles will help

What should developers read

If you want to read the impact on some of some CRM Development books had on the Hosk as a junior developer read this blog post

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