Last year I decided that my new year’s resolution would be to read 6 pages of a technical software development book every single day. While this might not seem like a lot at a glance, it works out at 2,190 pages across the entire year. So what does that look like in terms of books? It ends up looking something like this (plus another 100 pages from here). I did start to dither and fall behind at one point in September when I had to ramp up my skills in a different area on PluralSight, but I managed to catch up in November.
Reading software development books is obviously important, not just for the obvious reason of furthering your knowledge, but also to reiterate the basics that are drilled into you early on that you often wander from as you go through your career. Along with all the new techniques I learned there were also a lot of older ones that I’d somehow forgotten about. I’ve read that if you’re reading even one book a year in the computing field then you’re already reading more than the majority of the people in your industry, and honestly I find that thought horrifying. Expecting everyone to know and fully understand every single aspect of programming theory is unrealistic but if you’re not trying to build up your skills regularly then they’ll only begin to stagnate over time.
One thing I didn’t consider during this year was other avenues such as PluralSight in place of reading. Having done a lot of both in this year I found both helpful, but neither one can replace the other. The books I chose tended to cover a larger area, making you aware of a number of different techniques in the field they focus on, without necessarily making you an expert in any individual part of it. Video tutorials such as PluralSight on the other hand take more a deep-dive approach into a much more narrow area. In a few hours you can learn a lot about the SOLID principles and how they’re used, but you won’t get the full breadth of knowledge of the Agile process that you’d get from reading Robert C Martin’s book on the process. As always a good balance of the two is the best approach.
Going forward, I’m still going to regularly read books on the software development process, but probably not 6 pages every day. Instead I’ll be reading books for what I want to know about in general, then relying on PluralSight to teach and reinforce skills in a single specific area.