Printed words on dead trees is still my preferred way to read about IT topics. I am a huge fan of technical books and I house a library of hundreds of them in my home office. I believe that there is no better mechanism for digging in and learning a new subject than to wrap your hands around a book and to start reading.

I know that many of you have embraced ebook readers (like the Amazon Kindle) — and so have I. Just not for tech books. I’ll read a novel or a bio on my Kindle, but I still find it hard to navigate and utilize a tech book in any other format than an actual printed book on paper.


But back to the topic at hand — and that is to discuss a core set of books that should be in any IT professionals library. It doesn’t really matter whether you have access to these books in print or as an ebook, just that you have access to them.

So here it is, my version of a good, basic library of IT books that every computer professional should own. These books are classics in the field, or should be. I have excluded books on narrow topics like specific programming languages, operating systems, and database management systems. All of the following books are useful to anyone who is employed as a professional in the field of Information Technology.

The first book any IT professional should own is The Mythical Man-Month (Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 858-0001065793) by Fred Brooks. Fred Brooks is best known as the father of the IBM System/360, the quintessential mainframe computer. This book contains a wealth of knowledge about software project management including the now common sense notion that adding manpower to a late software project just makes it later. The 20th anniversary edition of The Mythical Man-Month, published in 1995, contains a reprint of Brooks’ famous article “No Silver Bullet” as well as Brooks’ reflections on the twenty years since the book’s publication. If creating software is your discipline, you absolutely need to read and understand the tenets in this book.