My technical reading habits

Akshat Jiwan Sharma, Fri Jul 05 2013

The last programming book that I read was The node beginner book about 6 months ago. Ever since I left .net and switched to node js my reading habits have changed drastically. I don't spend nearly as much time reading books on programming languages that I used to. I think there could be a couple of reasons for this

One is that the api of node js is quite concise. So once you get the hang of how node js works you can just skim through the api in a couple of hours or sooner if you just pick what you need to learn.

Second : any node js programmer will tell you that they build their own node. That is the beauty of node. There are so many frameworks out there that every developer is bound to have his/her preferences. Thus learning node js is as much about learning the core api as it is about discovering the frameworks you like. For these frameworks there are no books. You have to rely on online documentation which usually is excellent and there is always stackoverflow if you are stuck.

Due to the combined effect of not having too much to learn and those wonderful modules that are not documented in books anyway my technical reading has reduced greatly. I feel pretty good about it. It is refreshing to have a framework where weighty tomes are quite useless. Don't get me wrong though. I am not saying I don't like to read stuff on programming. I really do. But I feel that books that focus entirely on teaching you syntax are not much useful once you have learnt that stuff. And even for learning in the first place I have found manuals to be much more useful.

These days I look for stuff that goes beyond teaching you the syntax. I like to read anecdotal of developers. How they overcame complex problems at work. I like to learn from their experiences. Which is why blogs like codinghorror have taken up most of my reading time. Besides that I frequent a list apart and usually find and article or two that catches my fancy.

My learning habits have changed too. I don't like to go through the entire framework any more. I have started to pick things that I need and read about them. Which is why I find blogs and articles a great place to learn that complement the official docs and manuals.


Update (2014): Ah who could have thought I would pick up a programming language book the same year I wrote this article and yet this is precisely what happened. A few months after writing this article I took a fancy to erlang. And I was lucky to read the most fun programming book that I have ever read, Learn you some erlang. Though I consider this to be an exception in my behavior. I still like reading books on programming but I don't enjoy reading books that only teach you the programming syntax unless it is unlike something that I have already read before . Could this mean that I will pick up learn you some haskell this year. Who knows?


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