While on vacation last week, I read a couple of good books that I would recommend to any software startups.
Paul Graham‘s recent book Hackers and Painters was pretty damn interesting. It’s basically a collection of his essays that have been further expounded upon. Paul is always making some bold statement or another, and this book is certainly no exception. Writing in his well-known essay writing style, Paul makes sure that you can read any chapter that you care about and skip the rest. I was somehow interested in them all, even the ones about how spam works and why Lisp is so much more powerful than any other language out there. I have to admit, this is one convincing dude. I don’t think I could convince any one of you to go and learn more about Lisp, but somehow he got me thinking with some pretty compelling points. Don’t worry, I’m not switching. Shh, you shouldn’t either….
I also took in Joel Spolsky‘s Joel On Software. This is another collection of essays from Joel’s widely read blog by the same name. In the book Joel wrote mostly about best practices and things that apply to companies with more traditional development teams and approaches (it’s so strange to call Joel “traditional”, but you have to remember I had just read Paul’s book). He also writes about things he feels you need to know as a programmer (some historical, some technical). He has a neat way of making things that would normally seem mind-numbingly boring downright fascinating. He made me say “hummm” and laugh out loud so many times that my girlfriend Jil kept asking me how many pages I had left and when I was going to “just cut it out already.” If you’d like to really get a feel for Joel, here’s the best podcast to get to know him.