Book review: The Passionate Programmer, by Chad Fowler | The Passionate Programmer: Creating a remarkable career in software development

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to take control of their career, cares about their career, or is unhappy about where they currently are. Change and remarkable careers, like anything else, don't just happen to you, you have to work hard (and have fun!) to make them happen.This book gives you ways to achieve that, while having fun and staying true to yourself.

I really enjoyed reading it, it helped me structure and articulate my thoughts better around some ideas I hold on career development. I found it to be very encouraging, in nudging or kicking the reader's ass to be more active in building one's career consciously (honing a sense of business, mentoring, automating, personal brand...) and watching out for the traps along the way (over-specialisation, obsolescence, office politics and perception...). The format is really good as well: a multitude of very short chapters, usually 2 to 4 pages long thus perfect for a quick, self-contained read whenever you have a few minutes, with plenty of time afterward to mull over the ideas brought up.

Every chapter ends with an "Act on it" section which gives you tips, food for thought and calls to action related to the chapter contents. I always have a problem with (good) books that contain this kind of list, because if I wait to actually have/make the time to do what they ask me to do, I never finish reading them. I usually deal with this by reading the book from start to finish once, then (hopefully) giving it another read slower, later on, taking the time to follow through the action items. This was my first read. I still got quite a lot out of it: a few book references, new cool ideas to explore and a sense of confidence and reinforcement when this confirmed or fleshed out some of my beliefs and the path I have set onto.

The book is divided into 5 sections: Choosing your market, investing in your product (that's you, by the way ;)), executing, marketing and maintaining your edge. There are a few essays by other people inserted here and there that offer refreshing point of views, real-life examples or case studies.

The book can be bought from the publisher in addition to any good bookstore. I really enjoy the Pragmatic Bookshelf books and they sometime have cool promotional offers, so I tend to get the books from them directly and recommend it to people. :) There are a few chapter extracts as well.


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