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The well-read programmer's bookshelf needs more than just books about particular languages. Here are some of my favorite programming books. If you have a book to recommend, please email me.

Cover of Programming Pearls

Programming Pearls, Second Edition
J. Bentley
Addison-Wesley, 1999

This updated version of Bentley's classic programming book emphasizes writing efficient programs, but touches on other topics that are crucial for the professional programmer. The author's light touch makes the book as enjoyable to read as it is informative. The sequel, More Programming Pearls, is now sadly out of print. If you find a copy, snap it up!

Cover of The Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition
F. P. Brooks, Jr.
Addison-Wesley, 1995

One of the all-time classics in the field of programming and software engineering, this book is the source of "Brooks Law" (adding manpower to a late project makes it later). Originally published in 1975, it is just as relevant today as it was twenty-five years ago.

Cover of Design Patterns

Design Patterns : Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
E. Gamma, R. Helm, R. Johnson, J. Vlissides
Addison-Wesley, 1995

Perhaps the most influential programming book published in the last ten years, Design Patterns attempts to identify patterns that are common to many programs. These patterns are now widely used in the design of C++ and Java software.

Cover of The Practice of Programming

The Practice of Programming
B. W. Kernighan and R. Pike
Addison-Wesley, 1999

Read this book for advice on programming style, choosing the right algorithm, testing and debugging, and writing portable programs. Examples are drawn from C, C++, and Java.

Cover of The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1

The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms, Third Edition
D. E. Knuth
Addison-Wesley, 1997

The first of a projected seven-volume set covering essential algorithms used in programming. The first three volumes were originally published in 1968, 1969, and 1973; we're still waiting for the fourth! (It's due in 2007.) Volume 1 describes mathematical concepts that are used in the series, introduces a hypothetical computer (MIX) that is used to describe algorithms, and covers a number of fundamental data structures.

Cover of The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2

The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms, Third Edition
D. E. Knuth
Addison-Wesley, 1997

The second volume of Knuth's masterwork covers algorithms for such tasks as random-number generation, floating-point arithmetic, factorization, and polynomial arithmetic.

Cover of The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 3

The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 3: Sorting and Searching, Second Edition
D. E. Knuth
Addison-Wesley, 1998

Volume 3 of The Art of Computer Programming—perhaps the most popular of the series—is devoted to sorting and searching algorithms, which nearly every programmer needs at one time or another. The coverage of these subjects is, as always, exhaustive and meticulous.

Cover of Code Complete

Code Complete
S. McConnell
Microsoft Press, 1993

Tries to bridge the gap between programming theory and practice by providing down-to-earth coding advice based on proven research. Includes plenty of examples in a variety of programming languages. Highly recommended.

Cover of The New Hacker's Dictionary

The New Hacker's Dictionary, Third Edition
compiled by E. S. Raymond
MIT Press, 1996

Explains much of the jargon that programmers use, and it's great fun to read as well.

Click on the cover art or title to see each book's description at To see lists of best-selling programming books at, click on the Amazon logo below.

Copyright © 1999-2004 K. N. King. All rights reserved.