It can be hard to find time for reading with a million other demands on your attention. That’s why summer vacation is an ideal time to catch up on your reading—and if you’re looking for worthy choices, we’re here to help with a great set of recommendations.
Every summer, we ask our fellow Relics to share some of their favorite titles—especially ones relevant to software developers and other tech-industry professionals.
Our latest collection of Relic-recommended tomes is an eclectic list, but that’s no surprise: Our colleagues are a diverse bunch with wide-ranging interests. Take a look for yourself:
Page-turners for practitioners
If you’re the type who prefers compiling code to sand and surf, these could be your perfect summer leisure-reading options:
The Go Programming Language
by Alan A. A. Donovan and Brian W. Kernighan
Recommended by Aaron Shaver, Senior Software Engineer: “I love how it has lots of minimalist examples and explains everything,” Aaron said about the book. “There's nothing glossed over.”
Besides standing out as essential reading for anyone looking to master the finer points of Go, this will be a useful pick for many New Relic customers, as New Relic APM integrates extensive monitoring capabilities for Go applications. Go is also a popular coding choice for many of New Relic’s engineering teams.
Production-Ready Microservices: Building Standardized Systems Across an Engineering Organization
by Susan Fowler
Recommended by Stephen Weber, Senior Site Reliability Engineer: “It’s a surprisingly slim book packed with details around how to think about and ready a service for production—and what to do once it's there. I keep uncovering small insights—re-reading sections, for example, and noticing a particular phrase. Highly recommended!”
Keep your cool: Titles about reducing stress and working smarter
A summer vacation is a great way to unwind and escape workplace stress. But here’s an even better option: Learn how to work in ways that minimize stress and make you more productive:
Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow
Recommended by Jim Stoneham, Chief Marketing Officer & Senior VP Growth: Making Work Visible aims to combat what DeGrandis refers to as “time theft”—workplace practices that waste our time, sap our productivity, and add pointless stress to our lives. “There are great techniques here for shining a light on how and where we spend our time,” Jim noted. “And there’s equally great guidance on how we can better optimize our work lives to get more done and to avoid burnout.”
How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking
by Sönke Ahrens
Another recommendation from Stephen Weber: “How to Take Smart Notes isn't necessarily for everyone, and it’s not specifically about tech. But I found it very useful. It's a guide to one method of exploring your own thoughts and building up documents (or in my case, talk material) piece by piece. If you're struggling under information overload, this may give you an option to help sort things out.”
It’s all in your head: books to adjust your attitude
They say you can do anything if you put your mind to it. As it turns out, decades of research has validated the notion that how you think about your talents and abilities has a powerful impact on what you can achieve:
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Recommended by Debbie O’Brien, Senior Vice President, Communications and Brand: “This book explores a simple but powerful connection: People who believe they can develop and improve their abilities are more successful than those who believe their abilities are fixed. What really spoke to me was that Dweck's research spanned multiple decades and included the fields of sports, business, art and beyond where people in any and every field their success is about the belief in their abilities. Mindset also applies to groups and organizations just as much as it does to individuals.”
Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
by Gary Klein
Recommended by Beth Adele Long, Senior Software Engineer: “Klein’s research on naturalistic decision making focuses on how people deal with challenging, chaotic, and often stressful situations. And what he found reshaped how we understand decisions and expertise, making us recognize that people are inherently capable of making very good decisions in very difficult situations.”
“Klein shares some fascinating stories that illustrate this point,” Beth added. “And the book’s title reflects its most important takeaway: Human cognition isn’t the weak link in decision making. It’s actually a startling source of power when properly understood.”
Titles on building stronger teams and healthier workplace culture
Modern software development isn’t just about slinging code and deploying cutting-edge technology. These books that focus on two other essential elements: high-quality teamwork and a strong and supportive workplace culture.
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
Recommended by Nathan Smith, Lead Software Engineer: “This is a novel that teaches about the Theory of Constraints, while also telling a really engaging story. If you've read The Phoenix Project, this book is what inspired that one, but I think The Goal is better because it doesn't take place in an IT setting—which gives the lessons here universal relevance.”
“I personally consider The Goal to be the most important book I have read," Nathan says, "not only for software development, but also for anyone interested in team management, performance optimization, and business in general.”
The Culture Code:The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
by Daniel Coyle
Recommended by Brent Miller, Principal Software Engineer and Organizational Architect: “Writing software is a team sport, and this book is all about the role that culture plays in building better, more effective teams. It helped me really understand why a lot of my team leadership practices work as well as they do.”
Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability
Recommended by Tim Tischler, Site Reliability Champion: Some of the most important and sensitive cultural issues deal with failure. How does an organization react when things go wrong (often terribly so)? Is the emphasis on learning and avoiding recurrence, or on finding a scapegoat to take the blame?
Just Culture, Tim said, offers an insightful look at organizations that excel at handling these questions—as well as those that have struggled. “It’s a useful read for people working in any kind of organization, but it’s especially good for situations where practitioners could be blamed for accidents and mishaps. It’s also a reminder of why practices such blameless retrospectives, which we use here at New Relic, are such an important part of a healthy developer culture.”
Pleasure reading with a purpose
Some of our summer reading suggestions are less about sharpening your code-slinging or team-building skills, and more about simply enjoying a good book. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still find useful insights to carry back into your work:
Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity
Another recommendation from Beth Long: “Rovelli’s gorgeous book takes us on a tour from the ancient Greeks to cutting edge research. His commentary on how to engage with and understand a complex world has surprising relevance to anyone working in complex distributed systems. And the chapter linking information theory and the construct of time is another highlight.”
Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1
Recommended by Tori Wieldt, Senior Solutions Manager: “This book is a great romp through Baroque-era Europe and the New World. The main character encounters Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin, King Louis XIV, and more.”
“I loved the meeting of the Royal Society," Tori says, "where each member presented what they were working on—each seeming more crazy than the next—and right in the middle of the list was Isaac Newton with this crazy new gadget called the telescope! It's a great reminder that during times of experimentation and great change, it isn’t always easy to distinguish between genius and folly.”
Bonus titles: Relic-authored Java coding classics
Several Relics pointed out that a recent addition to our engineering team, Java expert Ben Evans, is also a highly-regarded co-author of Java-related books, including:
Java in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference 7th Edition
by Benjamin J. Evans and David Flanagan
Optimizing Java: Practical Techniques for Improving JVM Performance
by Benjamin J. Evans, James Gough, and Chris Newland
Both titles are essential reading for developers who build or maintain Java applications, and both deserve a spot in your team’s Java reference library if they aren't already there.
But wait—there’s more!
If you’d like even more summer reading options, be sure to check out our previous Relic Reading List roundups—which include plenty of still-relevant titles worth a look:
The Relic Reading List: We Share Our Favorites for Your Summer Book List (August, 2018)
The Relic Reading List (Summer Edition): 10 Books to Boost Your Tech Skills (June, 2017)
The Relic Reading List: 15 Essential Books to Upgrade Your Career—and Your Life! (January, 2017)
Coding by the Book: The 7 Books Every Software Developer Should Read (March, 2015)
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