Books that made me think

I've read quite a lot of geeky books over the past years and have been wanting to write some reviews for some time now.

Here are some bundled together of some extraordinary books on my shelf.


Note: links go to Amazon

Don’t make me think, by Steve Krug

This one’s simply a must-have for everyone working on the web. It’s an amazing book on usability and exactly what it says on the tin; “A common-sense approach”.

Using real-life examples and funny metaphors to non-digital situations, Steve Krug explains some of his discoveries made during user-testing.
The book is light-hearted, easy to understand and very thin (which is really unique in my experience).

Thin does not mean that the book contains little information, for it will truly teach you something. It just means all the wonderful information is contained in an easily digestible format.
Brilliant and must-have.

Web Standards Creativity, by multiple authors

First of all; this book is written by a true superhero team of Web Standardistas, such as Cameron Adams, Jeff Croft, Andy Clarke and Simon Collison. Please do check out the full list of authors on Amazon, they’re worth it.

I like the book because it doesn’t really include any true beginner information. It’s neat to pick up a book that’s interesting almost cover to cover, without having to skip a chapter or two because you’ve already read the information contained in it a thousand times.

Instead of teaching the basics, the authors have tried to pick interesting tricks of the trade, experimental gimmicks, or modern approaches to known techniques. All aspects of front-end developing are covered; HTML, CSS and DOM scripting.

I’ve found this book, aside from teaching me a few new tricks, a very inspirational read. The examples are in full-color and the writing is excellent and funny. After finishing, I really felt like experimenting a bit myself, either to improve, twist or expand on a subject.

If you already know a thing or two about Web Standards and would like to be inspired by the best in the industry, pick up this one.

PHP|Architects’s Guide To PHP Design Patterns, by Jason E. Sweat

If you’re a PHP developer and already took your programming to the Object Oriented level and want to learn how to grow even further, this is the book for you. Design Patterns are proved concepts you can use in certain situations when programming. For instance; you find yourself looping over datasets over and over again and you’re thinking, “if only there’s a way I can abstract this behaviour so I don’t have to write that damn looping code again and again”. Take a look at the Iterator pattern. You can really benefit from applying patterns like this. They’ve been tested and developed for years, so if a pattern fits the desciption of your problem, you might as well use it.

Jason Sweat explains patterns that can be used when developing PHP applications. The book is written in a clear, easy to understand manner, assuming you do already know how to write your own classes and interfaces.

Besides patterns, Jason also explains a thing or two about refactoring and unit testing. I had never worked with unit testing before, so that was a real eye-opener.

Just as with Web Standards Creativity, I like this book primarily because it assumes you already know the basics. If you know the basics, it’s very nice to read about concepts, best-practices and theory.
I believe this book made me a better programmer.