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Programmer Daily Reading

I have mentioned here, and on Twitter, my daily reading but have not described anything in detail. The only part I have discussed is the Bradbury Challenge to read one poem, one essay, and one story every day. I have mentioned professional daily reading and daily Scripture.

I have one profession, computer programming in the financial world, and another I’m working on getting into, writing. As a result, I keep up my reading in both professions. Today I’d like to describe the programming side. My daily reading in programming has two parts, the “scripture” and the book of the month.

About a decade ago, I realize I was not where I wanted to be as a programmer. I also knew I was not on a path to get there. I set out to get on the track to where I wanted to go. One of the first steps I took was to read the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning. I’ve re-read it a few times since. It’s probably about time for another re-read. Based on it, I made changes to how I approached my career and life. Some have lasted, and some haven’t.

One effect it had was to point me to the book The Pragmatic Programmer. That could have been a one-off book reading. It could have been like Pragmatic Thinking and Learning itself and become a book I re-read every few years. The structure of The Pragmatic Programmer, however, lead to something different.

It became a book I read constantly. Each chapter is divided into several topics around a theme, but the sections are independent. Each topic recommends several sections to read afterward. It does not have to be read in order. In fact, the Forward to the current edition even says, “Feel free to read the topics in any order – this isn’t a book you need to read front-to-back.”

I have read the first edition at least a half dozen times, but never front to back.

Instead, for a few years, starting in 2008, I read one section every workday as my start to work. I marked each topic in the table of contents as I read it to guide me on what to read next. After a while, the habit fell away.

Earlier this year, a new, 20th-anniversary edition of the book was published. I bought it. I am on my first read of the latest edition.

I started on Topic 22, “Engineering Daybooks,” which is the seventh and last topic of Chapter 3.

I mapped this reading out in advance. After each topic, I continue the next day with the first unread recommended topic. When I eventually get to a topic where I have read every recommended topic, I’ll swim back up the list until I find an unread one and continue down that list of recommendations.

When I mapped out this daily reading, I also decided to map out the technical book I’m reading this month. Reading one in-field book a month is a tip from both of the Pragmatic titles referenced above. I have done that more in the breach than anything. I figured mapping out a book for May when I mapped out a reading of The Programmatic Programmer might get both done.

The book this month is Your Code as a Crime Scene.

So, that’s my daily professional reading as a programmer, one section of digital scripture, and a part of another technical book. I’d be happy to receive referrals to a programming book to alternate with The Pragmatic Programmer as at one section a workday I should read it once every twelve weeks or so.

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