[2020] 10 Best Software Engineering Books

[2020] 10 Best Software Engineering Books

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Are you thinking about the questions below?

  • Which is the best book to study software engineering?
  • What are the top 10 books about software engineering?
  • As a software developer, what are the 5 books that must be read?
  • Best books for software engineers?
  • Best software development books?

So What are the books that software engineers must-read?

I have summarized the suggestions from different professionals in the tech industries. Here is a list of 10 must-read books for software engineers. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a software developer, software engineer, engineer, developer, programmer, or coder, all of you want is to improve your skills and become a better professional.

The first 3 books are for people that just start their journey in computer science and prepare for their interview. The rest of the books are for the people in the industries, and still want to sharpen their skills.

  • Disclosure: This post is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

#1 Cracking the Coding Interview

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions & Solutions” is highly recommendable for anyone that needs to take their coding interview.

  • Extensive coverage of essential topics, such as big O time, data structures, and algorithms.
  • Walk you through how to derive each solution, so that you can learn how to get there yourself.
  • Hints on how to solve each of the 189 questions, similar to what you would get in a real interview.

The author Gayle is a famous software engineer and worked in Google, Microsoft, and Apple. She passed the coding interviews from various tech companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Goldman Sachs. She became an interviewer in the company. Especially during her period in Google, she was one of the hiring committees that made the hiring decisions. She summarized her experience and conducted the questions and tips for the coding interview.

#2 Introduction to Algorithms

Introduction to Algorithms“, is an essential guide to algorithms. It’s very comprehensive to all the readers, both beginners and professionals. The algorithms are written in English and pseudocode designed to ease the readability for every developer.

#3 Head First Design Pattern: A Brain-Friendly Guide

Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide” teaches you different design patterns and best practices to create functional, reusable, and flexible software. Are you struggling with the software design problems, honestly, some engineers had struggles with the same design problem that you have and already solved your problem.

Are you preparing for coding interviews? This book is not only for engineers that encounter endless design in their software, but also a good resource for those who are preparing their Object-Oriented Design interview.

If you think this book is fairly easy, here is another book I would recommend at #4 Design Patterns

#4 Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software”, also called “Gang of Four”.

This book is not an introduction to Object-Oriented Design. This is a book for architects or designers of a system. This book goes into detail on many different design patterns that many software engineers have encountered. Following the strategies will allow you to build high quality, flexible, and maintainable software.

#5 The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded

Are you a new engineer especially out of college? Have you experienced a hard time adjusting to the workplace and the new job? This is actually true for any engineer, actually anybody to start their new job.

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter” has taught me multiple concepts on how to get started at a new job and in particular the need for structure.

#6 Working Effectively With Legacy Code

Unless you are working in a startup or new tech project, you will most likely be facing legacy code in your career. I remembered my very first project in the company was migrating legacy code to the new cloud platform. I spent lots of time just trying to understand a single block of code.

Working Effectively With Legacy Code” provides start-to-finish strategies for working more effectively with large, untested legacy code bases.

#7 Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Even bad code can function. But if code isn’t clean, it can bring a development organization to its knees. Every year, countless hours and significant resources are lost because of poorly written code. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In this book “Clean Code“, Robert Martin provides clear and concise chapters about :

  • How to write high-quality and expressive code
  • How to name your functions, your variables, essentially conveying your intent in your coding style
  • How to unit test properly, why it matters, and how to do it properly
  • How to choose relevant data structures and why they can make or break a piece of code
  • How to write comments but most importantly how NOT to write comments
  • How error handling works and how to properly engineer an exception handling workflow through your application or program

#8 Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

As a software engineer, you spend a lot of time writing code and thinking about the new design and algorithms to solve the problems.

However, when your project grows, your codebase becomes larger and larger. You found out more and more duplicate functions, and you start to feel like you are missing some points on function reusability and factorization.

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code”, this book explains what refactoring is; why you should refactor; how to recognize code that needs refactoring; and how to actually do it successfully, no matter what language you use.

  • Understand the process and general principles of refactoring
  • Quickly apply useful refactorings to make a program easier to comprehend and change
  • Recognize “bad smells” in code that signal opportunities to refactor
  • Explore the refactorings, each with explanations, motivation, mechanics, and simple examples
  • Build solid tests for your refactorings
  • Recognize tradeoffs and obstacles to refactoring

#9 Computer systems: A Programmer’s Perspective (CSAPP)

Computer systems: A Programmer’s Perspective
” explains the underlying elements common among all computer systems and how they affect general application performance. 

This book provides different computer science themes such as hardware architecture, the operating system, and systems software. This book strives to create programmers who understand all elements of computer systems and will be able to engage in any application of the field–from fixing faulty software to writing more capable programs, to avoiding common flaws. It lays the groundwork for readers to delve into more intensive topics such as computer architecture, embedded systems, and cybersecurity.

#10 Pragmatic Programmer

The Pragmatic Programmer” is one of those rare tech books you’ll read, re-read, and read again over the years. Whether you’re new to the field or an experienced practitioner, you’ll come away with fresh insights each and every time.

The book is highly relevant even in 2020, especially with the new 20th Anniversary Edition. It examines what it means to be a modern developer by exploring topics that range from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques.

After reading the book, you should know what continuous learning means and how important it is; how to write flexible, adaptable and dynamic code; how to solve the problems of concurrent code; how to guard against security vulnerabilities; how to test ruthlessly and effectively, and much more.
Read this book, and you’ll learn how to:

  • Fight software rot
  • Avoid the trap of duplicating knowledge
  • Write flexible, dynamic, and adaptable code
  • Avoid programming by coincidence
  • Solve the underlying problems of concurrent code
  • Test ruthlessly and effectively, including property-based testing
  • Delight your users


Let me know in the comments if you like the post. If you think this post benefits you, please share this with someone that you think would benefit from this post.

This is the time to read, and start practicing your coding skills. Are you aiming for higher? Start right now, go to Amazon and get your target books!!!

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Roger

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this information.
    It is really useful!

  2. Tim

    thanks for your sharing !!!! i’ll recommend this article to my friends .

    1. Jeff Ding

      Definitely, I will continue posting useful information ~ Hope it helps Tim.

  3. ChengLin

    I like the #4 Design Patterns , cuz lots of enginner recommand this , and real help new engineer to build
    efficienily system , thanks for share useful infomation here !

    1. Jeff Ding

      Hi ChengLin, that’s one of my favorites. I benefited from design patterns so much during my work. glad that it helps you!

  4. Celine

    This looks very professional, if you are interested in this field, you can refer to it.

  5. 小豬

    wow~~ I want recommend to my programmer friends.
    she is clean code freak,that is her profession.hahahahha~~~

  6. levi

    The analysis is very detailed, and I will definitely help a lot in this field, thank you for sharing

  7. Karina

    Wow cool. Thanks for your analysis. I am studying science university. Could me give me an advice of if I wanna have a taste of engineer software?