I spent the majority of my career teaching college English. I read so, so much fiction, poetry, plays, and screenplays. And when I moved into tech, I kind of stopped reading for a while. I was dealing with trauma. I was leaving a profession that didn’t support me. And I was a mom of 4, and I was tired. I used to think I was a visual learner. But I couldn’t sit and read anymore. I hated listening to audiobooks. But when I got my first job in tech, I bought myself a pair of airpods to celebrate. And I discovered that I loved listening to podcasts and audiobooks, but only with headphones. And I’ve intensely consumed them since then. But my taste has shifted. I’ve moved into a new industry–actually kind of two: tech and community–so my reading list has reflected that. I’m grateful that our public library has enabled me to seek a path of exploration, an education that suits me and my needs and that enabled this post. Today, I’m going to break down my top five reading resources for new and early career developers.
Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott
As a new developer, you’re going to receive feedback and you’re going to need to know how to give feedback as well. It will frequently be hard. Understanding the importance of feedback, and being honest with empathy and with the intent of action will be incredibly important as you progress. Getting good feedback enables you to grow. Giving good feedback empowers others to grow. This book can help you do both.
Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career by Scott H. Young
I’ve listened to other books that were similar, but this one stuck with me. Maybe it’s because he talks a lot about tech. Maybe it’s because the idea of immersing yourself into one thing resonated with me. But it speaks to the career-changes journey and the hardships you’ll encounter along the way.
Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi
This is one of my more recent listens. It validated an idea I had forgotten. So much of breaking into tech is 24-7 tech. Learning about tech. Hobbies about tech. Side projects about tech. I went to a bootcamp, and even though I did it over a year, my mind was stuck on tech that entire time. And I had a hard time breaking that feeling that I needed to be connected all the time. However, some of my most important, growth-filled experiences have come when I’ve been away from the computer. Some people go for a walk. This is hard for me. But I’ve spent time in the car recently, driving a couple of hours to a place and then a couple of hours home, and it’s given me the freedom to think. I have nothing to do, but think in that time. And it’s enabled me to think deeply. Why do I feel this way? What are my biggest dreams? How do I make those dreams come to life for other people? We need time away from screens–even though it feels counter-intuitive. We grow when we let our brains rest.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Another recent listen. But this resonated with me more than books like Deepwork. I’m a mom of four. Things are hard frequently. I’ve spent time interviewing for tech roles. Luckily, not that many, but it’s exhausting. I think to succeed, you have to reframe your thought process: each interview is like a regular season game. You win some, you lose some. You get up and you try again. You grow with each exeperience. It’s not meaningless. It’s about growing and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, whether you’ve succeeded or need to go back and try again.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
I’ve worked through a lot over the last three years. And sometimes I was excited to keep pushing forward. Othertimes, I wanted to quit. How do you not give up when you feel like you’ve failed, repeatedly? You form habits. And you do it until you feel like you’ve gotten better. And then you keep going. It doesn’t matter if you learn the thing in one night. What matters is that you’ve learned the thing. How do you prepare yourself to move outside of that comfort zone and keep learning? This book sets up the steps.
I’ve read a lot of books, but these are the ones that have most resonated with me since I’ve been navigating the tech industry. They’ve helped me to reframe my understanding of failure, growth, and connection. Are they explicitly about tech? No, but I think that makes them better. They’re about the human experience. And living outside of the tech bubble helps us to bring a better perspective to what’s happening in tech.