5 books recommended by a tech CEO to read right now if you want to teach yourself how to code

Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and cofounder of HackerRank, shared his top books on coding with Business Insider. HackerRank There are plenty of free, online courses that help you learn to code, like those offered by Harvard University and Khan Academy. But if you don’t want to commit to an online class, there […]

Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and cofounder of HackerRank, shared his top books on coding with Business Insider.
Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and cofounder of HackerRank, shared his top books on coding with Business Insider.

HackerRank

  • There are plenty of free, online courses that help you learn to code, like those offered by Harvard University and Khan Academy.

  • But if you don’t want to commit to an online class, there are also plenty of books you can check out to help you learn to code. 

  • Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and co-founder of HackerRank, a provider of technical tests for hiring software developers, shared what he thinks are the most helpful books for learning how to code.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you’re looking to add a new technical skill to your portfolio, consider learning to code. After all, the role of software engineer is one of the most highly sought after, and best paying, jobs today.

While there are many free, online courses — offered by the likes of Harvard University and Khan Academy (one of Bill Gates’ favorite platforms) — learning to code exclusively online can be challenging. In some cases, there are more in-depth concepts that require extensive reading to understand. That’s where textbooks and how-to titles on coding can come in handy. 

Vivek Ravisankar, CEO and cofounder of HackerRank, a provider of technical tests and remote interviews for hiring software developers, told Business Insider that before receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science, he taught himself the basics of coding, in part, by using YouTube and books.

In addition to founding HackerRank, which raised over $60 million in funding and has become a go-to platform for many companies hiring software engineers, Ravisankar also worked as a programmer for Amazon.  

Here are his top picks on which books to read. 

“Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science” by John Zelle

John Zelle
John Zelle

Franklin, Beedle & Associates

This book is for beginners, as it’s meant to be a textbook in a college-level introductory course in software engineering. It uses Python, one of the world’s most popular languages, to teach readers. 

“Despite being a textbook, ‘Python Programming’ is easy to read. With a number of exercises to practice with, it’s well worth your while,” Ravisankar said. 

Buy it here>>

“Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert Martin

Clean Code
Clean Code

Prentice Hall

This book is perfect for anyone with a basic understanding of software engineering that’s looking to go from writing messy code to clean, logical code, something recruiters are increasingly looking for, Ravisankar said. 

“Anyone can write code that functions, but real quality comes from clean code. There is a movement brewing in the world of professional software development based on going beyond mere functionality,” the CEO said. 

Martin’s book provides clear examples of how to transform your code by changing the way you think. 

Buy it here >>

“Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software” by Charles Petzold

Code
Code

Microsoft Press

If you work in tech, or are remotely interested in tech, you should read this book, Ravisankar said. This comprehensive book, while less about teaching readers how to code, is more about building your knowledge of how technology works. From electrical circuits and Morse code to software code development, this book teachers readers the how-tos that will make you appreciate tech so much more. 

“You don’t need to have ever written a line of code to understand the contents of this book, and to gain a deep appreciation for what really happens every time you use your laptop or smartphone,” Ravisankar said. 

Buy it here>>

“Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition” by Steve McConnell

Code Complete
Code Complete

Microsoft Press

Junior developers will find this classic helpful in learning to build their understanding of software development. Ravisankar called this book “one of the most comprehensive introductions to programming.” 

“Simplicity is a common theme throughout the entire book, and rightly so,” the HackerRank cofounder said. “Software development is famously complex, yet the best code often comes out of a search for simplicity – it’s far too easy for complexity to become overwhelming.” 

Buy it here>>

“The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

The Pragmatic Programmer
The Pragmatic Programmer

Addison-Wesley Professional

This book provides a theoretical overview of what makes a good programmer, whether you’re a freelancer or someone hoping to assume a managerial role in software engineering. Ravisankar called it “one of the best non-technical tech books you can find.”

“The authors go beyond a simple checklist of what you should do, presenting a comprehensive guide for how you should change your approach. It’s chock-full of high-level concepts that will improve any development environment, and it’s all communicated in a very straightforward manner,” he said. 

Buy it here>>  

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