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20 Books Every Computer Science Student Should Read

Computer science is one of the hardest and most intellectually challenging subjects to take. The specialization within it means entire areas are inaccessible to even talented computer scientists.

Here are 20 suggestions of books you should read if you are studying computer science and want to have a more broad understanding of the subject.

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#1 Geek Heresy by Kentaro Toyama

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The book makes a convincing case against any idea that computing technologies can save the world, whether it is to improve persistent challenges in education, healthcare, or governance. 

It is a caution for overly optimistic computer science students, but it isn't pessimistic -- there are chapters about the best use of technology for social change. The main message is a very sensible one -- that we technologists have to acknowledge the primacy of cultural and political factors in social change. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Jasmit Kaur from Culturebie 

24 points
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#2 Data Visualization Made Simple

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In the book, Author explains

  • Describes popular software, platforms, and programming languages used to visualize data
  • Presents over 30 types of charts and the insights that they portray
  • Describes visual data exploration methods 
  • Offers practical tips for telling stories with data that will resonate with an audience
  • Offers tactics for designing and delivering data presentations, along with common pitfalls and how to avoid them 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Valerie Silverman Kerr from VSK Public Relations

21 points
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#3 The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

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Great book by Fred Brooks on the human aspects of software engineering. 

It's a seminal work on how human beings influence project completion. It's a must-read for anyone who has an interest in engineering project management. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Karthik Sridharan from Kinnek

14 points
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#4 Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. Cormen

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This is a hefty tome- might wanna go to the gym before buying it, because it's tough to carry around. That being said, it's a classic- it's comprehensive, detailed, and required reading by almost every major Computer Science program in the country. 

It helps the reader elevate from just being a coder to thinking like a true Computer Scientist. It delves into sorting algorithms, searching algorithms, and everything in between.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Karthik Sridharan from Kinnek

14 points
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#5 Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

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Fantastic primer on the fundamentals of web design. It is an easy, quick read, and is accessible even for non-Computer Scientists. It is a solid introduction to UI/UX and the fundamentals of design, especially for Computer Scientists who have a bent towards front-end / client-side engineering. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Karthik Sridharan from Kinnek

12 points
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#6 The Code Book by by Simon Singh

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This isn't a Computer Science book per se- but I recommend it to all my friends who are even slightly interested in the field. This is because it delves into one of the hottest, most relevant sub-fields of Computer Science today- cryptography. 

The term might evoke images of spies in smoke-filled cellars in Vienna or Berlin during the Cold War, but in today's world, cryptography and codebreaking is all about mathematics and computer science. 

It's a fun read for history buffs and Computer Scientists alike, and gives a glimpse into how Computer Science changed the course of the 20th century. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Karthik Sridharan from Kinnek

12 points
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#7 The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie

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This book, sometimes just referred to by the initials of its authors K&R (Kernighan and Ritchie), is a classic. I almost didn't include it in the list because it's so very focused on a single programming language, C. 

But, I think it's still worth reading. It's a bit of computer science history. It gives an insight into how the world thought about programming back in the late 1970s, and gives a great perspective of how similar the concept of software engineering is today from those heady days when C and Unix weren't yet household names. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Karthik Sridharan from Kinnek

12 points
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#9 The Go-Giver by Bob Burg

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Using the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success in all you do is a proven way to build long-term relationships that provide two way benefit without anyone needing to win and another lose. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Andrew Hatfield from Mesosphere 

#10 Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

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One of the greatest obstacles faced in information technology is people's resistance to change. Knowing why and how to deal with that resistance is key to being successful in information technology or software development. 

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Contributor: Jacob Ackerman from SkyLink Data Centers

#11 The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim

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The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim is a great read for CS students to understand IT and DevOps and the processes involved in developing and delivering software. 

These concepts are essential for a software developer to understand. The Phoenix Project informs through a fictional story. The reader learns about the process as the main character is going through them, which is easier to digest than the standard technical process book.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Robert Kihm from Align 

#15 Will Computers Revolt by Charles J Simon

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Written by computer scientist, nationally renowned software developer and AI pioneer Charles Simon, Will Computers Revolt? details the future of AI and what/how humanity should prepare for the impending revolution in an easy-to-read style even modern day Luddites could appreciate! Fascinating, informative and easily digestible book every computer science student needs to read today

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Janie Mackenzie from Smith Publicity

#16 Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky

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The co-founder of Stack Overflow and creator of Trello shares a collection of insights about software development. This guy knows what he's talking about and anyone looking to work in the industry can learn something about what to expect as a software developer. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Robert Kihm from Align 

#17 The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

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The Innovators by Walter Isaacson is a well-written history of many of the disruptive innovations in technology, including the people and companies you've heard of, but also others that were doing similar things that failed and few people know about. Isaacson looks at why some are successful and others failed and were forgotten. 

He talks about cross-functional teams and the serendipity of interactions that led to success. These ideas inspired major tech companies like Pixar, Apple and Google to rethink things like how they layout their office to see some of the effects Isaacson mentions.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Robert Kihm from Align 

#18 Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal

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How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal is really interesting for future developers. He demonstrates how people and companies have created applications (and products) that consumers just can’t put down. 

It’s a book about human psychology where developers can learn about the techniques that make people keep coming back and spending time in your application. Once you’ve read it, you’ll never look at Facebook, Tinder and other applications the same way. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Robert Kihm from Align 

#19 Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows

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It’s a relatively short read but this is one of the go-to books when you need a little inspiration on how your profession (Computer Scientist) can help improve society. 

In this book, the author relates our world’s biggest problems such as hunger, poverty, environmental deterioration, etc. to problems encountered by Computer Scientists such as system failures, and how the necessary fixes are closely related. This book delves on the fascinating world of computer science presented in a language that is all too familiar. 

This is one of the few books that can help reignite your passion for computer science and how it motivates you to be proactive in improving your craft. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Sean Si from SEO Hacker

#20 Mac OS X and iOS Internals: To the Apple’s Core

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This book is expensive but it dives deep into how iOS and Mac work and how you can exploit it. Definitely worth a read if you are into information security research. 

Plus, Levin is an accomplished security researcher and also has an active forum that anyone who's willing to learn about iOS and macOS can join. 

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Luca Romano from Yalu Jailbreak

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Written by Taegan Lion