The books that influenced me

In an email today I was asked “What books did you find most influential in your professional career?”  Honestly, I’ve been much, much more influenced by the people I’ve worked and interacted with.  For that matter, blogs and podcasts pack a lot of intellectual punch these days.  That being said, here’s my list, but you’ll notice that every book is at least a couple years old and none of them are .Net specific.  That might be because publishing isn’t as important or it might be because I just haven’t thought to buy a development book lately.

  • Refactoring by Martin Fowler — The best book I know for low level code quality
  • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler — Basically defines much of the vocabulary for designing enterprise systems
  • XP Explained by Kent Beck, version 1 — Otherwise known as the “White Book” or occasionally I’ll call it “Chairman Beck’s Little White Book” when I’m irritated at some example of XP zealotry.  I’m saying version 1 here in specific because (I’ve didn’t bother reading XPE2) Beck does such a great job in laying down the principles and the “why” behind Extreme Programming.
  • The Pragmatic Programmer — I really don’t need to explain this one
  • Mary Poppendieck’s talks and podcasts on Lean Programming.
  • Object Design by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock — She doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition she deserves.  I find that Responsibility Driven Design is far more useful and effective for crafting a design than UML modeling, but the dadgumn picture doodling became a phenomenon
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers — A survival guide for dealing with legacy code
  • Applying UML and Patterns by Craig Larman — Awesome introduction to OO design
  • Debugging the Development Process: Practical Strategies for Staying Focused, Hitting Ship Dates, and Building Solid Teams by Steve Maquire

Books that are worth reading:

  • Code Complete V2 by Steve McConnell
  • Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans
  • Give the original Gang of Four book a read sometime
  • Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices by Robert C. Martin — pssst, the principles are all online somewhere.  I’ve touched on many of them in my posts as well

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at
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  • Purchase High PR Backlink

    I am so living this every day, good topic.

  • Vikas Kerni

    Look like that I am the only person who loved
    Object Oriented Design and Analysis by Grady Booch.
    It along with GOF design patterns, really helped me to change my procedural mindset to oop.

  • Gil Zilberfeld

    Michael Feather’s book is on top of my list. However it made a lot of sense after I was in deep in TDD country. Which brings me to Kent Beck’sTest Driven Development By Example.

    @Dan: Software Engineering Radio is a great podcast for software craftsmen.(

  • Dan Martin

    Can you recommend any other podcasts?

  • James Maul

    I agree with vega. Head First: Design Patterns and
    Refactoring to Patterns are great books.

  • Simon

    Yes, TMMM is short but all the better for it. Short books are (almost) always better since they have to get the essence across quicker and hence avoid (much of) the risk of becoming dry and boring.

    BTW not a must have, but a good read is Slack by Tom Demarco (ideal present for those that think we should always be *busy*).

  • Jeremy D. Miller


    I actually had a coworker buy the Nilsson book on an expense account but the office evaporated before I got a chance to read it. I like Refactoring to Patterns but just didn’t think it quite made the cut.


    POSA, like GoF, is just too danged dull.

    I forgot the Mythical Man Month. It’s so short that I’ve read it cover to cover at a bookstore waiting for my wife to shop.

  • Simon

    Can you really omit The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks?

  • Evan

    Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture (vol 1)..

    It’s one of THE most often cited architecture books..

    Seriously, you can check nearly any architecture whitepaper and find it mentioned at the

    I’m reading it now, it’s an eye-opener.

  • vega

    Some others:

    — Head First: Design Patterns- I think you have mentioned not reading this before but you probably should

    — Jimmy Nilsson’s Applying Domain-Driven Design and Patterns- definitely influential in the “ALT.NET” realm (at least for me)

    — Refactoring to Patterns by Joshua Kerievsky- builds really well off of Fowler’s refactoring book