It’s that time of year again (at last)! Whether you are headed to the beach, the mountains or just a staycation, summer reading is a time-honored American tradition. What follows are several of my (and Mercury staff) favorites to include on your summer reading list. Dig in, and you’ll come away with some solid reading for your summer vacation whether you’re a manager, engineer or business leader.
DevOps Handbook, 2nd Edition
I am a card-carrying Jez Humble fan club member – and Gene Kim and Nicole Forsgen are climbing my charts. This is one of the books that opened my eyes to Continuous Delivery and the need for Mercury to adopt CI/CD (among other practices) and DevOps as a whole. This second edition updates this classic for current best practices and theory.
Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving every day, goal stacking and creating positive habits that lead to remarkable results. As I like to say “you can’t be motivated every day but you can be disciplined”, James Clear calls out the importance of an effective personal operating system to break bad habits and rise to the level of your goals.
The Obstacle is the Way
Not a new-ish book but this one is a true Mercury favorite and initially recommended to me by my partner Chris, and now it’s everywhere! Bringing the classic Stoic philosophy into a modern context, this book definitely helped me establish the mindset of “things aren’t ever going to get easy, keep that in mind, keep working and be much happier”.
The Staff Engineer’s Path: A Guide for Individual Contributors Navigating Growth and Change
For years, companies have rewarded their most effective engineers with management positions. This default path for an engineer is one of the drivers the led me to creating MercuryWorks – I wanted highly skilled technical staff for being just that. This book calls out an engineering path allows engineers to contribute at a high level by driving big projects and determining technical strategy. Importantly, it presents methods to be a leader without direct personnel authority, while still growing as an expert in your domain.
Yes, you can be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity. I have shared this book with multiple leaders within MercuryWorks and it has led to both far more effective one-on-ones and reviews but also a higher sense of satisfaction in the real exchanges that happen between leader and team member.
Software Engineering at Google
Also, not a brand-new book but one I read on my last beach vacation and I nearly wore out the “highlight text” feature of my Kindle, so I included it in this list. Software engineers need to know not only how to program effectively but also how to employ proper engineering practices to make their codebase sustainable and healthy. This book emphasizes how engineers can manage a living codebase that evolves and sustains high demand over its lifetime. I was gratified by the number of best practices we were already following and shocked at the straightforward practices we WEREN’T.
Engineering Management for the Rest of Us
A lot of engineering managers start out their careers studying for years and years to become the best engineer they possibly can be… and then they were promoted. Becoming a technical manager can be tough for those of us who didn’t go into engineering with the distinct intent of becoming managers. BUT we still want to do our best to support our teams. This outstanding book provides some organization for collaborating with a group of engineers towards a common purpose.