My Favorite Books

As an avid reader, I often get requests for my favorite books. The following is a list I shared a while back with a friend. If you're interested in tech, coding, entrepreneurship, science or self-development, I think you'll find these enjoyable as well. I've grouped them into categories based on my reasoning for reading them:

If you're too busy to sit down & read as I often am, you can also get these in audio format through Audible. They typically run a "Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks deal". Audiobooks tend to be cheaper than the actual book & you can send free books to your friends to try. Besides the public library, Audible is my favorite book store. Of course, always check your local library & support them first!

I will try to update this with longer & better reviews at some point. For now these are short reviews I shared with a friend. By the way, these are all affiliate links when possible because if I'm going to be recommending books, then why not?

Stories for Fun

The Martian

If you enjoy science or sci-fi at all, this book was amazing. It's a hilarious adventure. The narrators did a great job. Whatever you do, don't compare this to the movie. The movie was awful. Amazon

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This story starts off slow but picks up. By the end I wanted more. After reading it, you will hear references to this book everywhere you otherwise would have missed. Amazon

Lone Survivor

The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10! This is historical & a great story. Another great narrator as well! It starts out slow, especially if you've read similar books. It gets a bit political at times as the author is angry. You will understand why by the time you're done reading this book. Once you get over those initial chapters the book gets a lot better. If you listen to the audiobook you might actually cry listening to the end of this book. Once again, don't compare the book to the movie. The book is amazing. The movie should pay people to watch it. Amazon

No Easy Day

A great story of the Navy Seals & the Osama Bin Laden mission. It also mentions the Capt. Phillips rescue as well as if it was a quick & easy side job. Amazon

The Great Divorce

A C. S. Lewis classic on heaven, hell and what's in between. It's another book that starts off slow and gets fascinating towards the middle and end. Amazon


Most of these books aren't available as audiobooks. They wouldn't work well in that format. They are classics in the sense they've been around forever and often come highly recommended. They are often best read after you have some experience under your belt. They are worth re-reading & skimming through from time to time.

Clean Code

After you've been writing software for a year, I recommend reading Clean Code. It will make a great difference in your ability to write quality software. You can bundle The Clean Coder in as well at a discount. Amazon

Code Complete

Along with Clean Code, this is another solid practical guide to writing code. Something worth reading after your first your in software. Amazon

The Mythical Man-Month

This is equivalant to having one of the best software project managers by your side giving you a heads up on how to handle issues. Amazon

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

A collection of experiences and tips similar to the Mytical Man-Month. Amazon

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Ever have a math book with all the answers in the back of the book? Remember how they showed the result but not the formula? This book is all about which formula to use for which problem when writing software. Beginners beware. A lot of the patterns may not make sense if you've never had to solve that type of problem. Amazon

You Don't Know Js

For JavaScript developers, you can either buy these books or find the content on GitHub. They're the defacto manual for learning advanced JavaScript. They're great for any level of experience. Amazon


How to Win Friends & Influence People

This is probably the #1 recommended book in this category & it's old. The title is a bit misleading but I haven't found someone whose read it & doesn't like it or come back to read it again. It contains a lot of common sense that isn't common or that we often forget. It should be required reading in school and to create a social media account. Amazon

A Mind for Numbers

If you've never taken Barbara Oakley's EdX class this is worth reading. It teaches you how to learn, how to remember & how the brain works. She keeps it simple. Once again, this should be a mandatory topic that high schools and colleges teach. Amazon

The Power of Habit

One of few books I've listened to twice. It's full of interesting stories and how creating habbits made a difference in quality & ability. Amazon

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

This was a good book that helps you understand how willpower works. If you are looking to increase productivity or are often frustrated with your lack of willpower, I highly recommend this book. Amazon

Eat that Frog

This is a nice little encouragement book. It's not a must read but if you ever need a pep talk, it's a good, short book. Amazon

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

Helpful topics on negotiating, whether business or relationships. The author lists actions you can take and how they worked for him. Amazon

Business & Finance

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The best book I've read on learning how to sell. This is a must read. Amazon

Money Management Skills - The Great Courses

Short, simple & great financial advice. This should be required reading in high school or college. Amazon

Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

If you need a book that lays out how to start a business, read this and the accompanying workbook. Also if you can, take Bill's wonderful MIT EdX classes. These are not available as audio books and would not work well as one anyways. Amazon

The Lean Startup

This has become a defacto business book. If you haven't read this book and are interested in business, go get it now. Amazon

Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works

Actionable advice on how to run a lean startup. Amazon


Jason Fried & DHH are great authors, designers, developers & business owners. This provides a great look on how they created their business without killing themselves. Amazon

Pumpkin Plan

Another book I need to re-listen to. It is a great coach that reminds you in business & gardening, you need to have lots of plants & ideas in the ground. You also need to pluck the bad ones and toss them away. Amazon

The Founder's Dilemmas

A great list of decissions founders need to make and common results of those decisions. A must read before starting a business. Amazon

Startup Life Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur

A must read for anyone in a relationship trying to start a business or even considering it. Amazon

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History's Greatest Speakers

If you're interested in speaking to small or large groups, this is a must read. It's even a great read if to improve day to day conversations. This is a book you need to be ready to take notes with. Amazon

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences

If you need to present a topic to a group, this book does a great job on helping you build an excellent presentation. Amazon

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone

Satya Nadella narrates & authors this book on how he hopes to change Microsoft. There are also interesting discussions on government vs tech companies when trying to protect citizen's rights. Amazon

Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry

An enjoyable listen to how Salesforce was built and the challenges they had to overcome. Amazon

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

The story of Zappos and their awesome customer service. Amazon

Remote: Office Not Required

If remote work is something of interest to you, this does an excellent job discussing the pros and cons. Amazon

History & Biographies


Steve Wozniak's biography. I liked this one a lot. I couldn't finish the Jobs biography. Wozniak is more interesting to me. Amazon

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

The story of Kevin Mitnick, a popular social engineering hacker. His life & adventures are fascinating. I highly recommend to anyone interested in computer science, hacking or who lived through the 90's when he made headlines. Amazon

The Alchemy of Air

Amazon recommended this to me & I just went with it as I had nothing else at the time. It is a fascinating look at both World Wars & their causes. The main part of this book is the development of artificially created fertilizer & how that impacted the entire world. This discovery is why our planet can support the current population. I will re-listen to this one again some day. This book could replace most history classes that cover American and European history of the early 1900's. I highly recommend it as it should be common knowledge. Amazon

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

I'm not going to lie. I haven't finished it yet. It's long. Really, really long. But it will give you a better perspective on why the world isn't so bad & how we've been improving a lot. We're much safer & better off than we ever were. Amazon

The History of the United States, 2nd Edition - The Great Courses

Another long book I have failed to finish but have learned a lot from. Once again this book makes my knowledge of early American history seem weak. It's one I turn to from time to time and it gives great insight. Amazon

I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

Interesting story of Google's early days. If you're interested in what that life was like or those characters, this is a good book. Amazon

Decision Points

If you don't hate George W Bush, he reads his own biography & it's a very interesting look at the life of a President & the sudden after life. I eventually need to read Barack Obama's to compare the two. Amazon

United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good

An interesting book on politics, poverty and America. Cory is a great speaker and narrator. He also has some excellent stories and quotes that you will want to steal. Amazon

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr

A book recommended to me by others. Another excellent history book that shows the many sides of one of the richest people to exist in modern history. Amazon


Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

A good book told from a daughter's point of view after she grew up. I would recommend to any Dad. One I will re-listen to at some point. Amazon

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

An interesting look at several types of schools around the world. Amazon

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

This book saved me when I became a dad. Read it right before you have your first baby. Hospitals should supply this book. Amazon

Matt Ferderer

Software engineer who spends his time learning about building teams, project management, software architecture, C#, .NET Core, Blazor, JavaScript, TypeScript, Azure, user experience, web security, and performance.