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How I Read Programming Books
2013-09-27 00:51

Two things I notice myself doing that give me the most from book learning:

  • Read them twice. Once you've read through the advanced stuff in the second half of the book, the first half makes more sense and feels more natural.

  • Read two books on the same topic. They'll come from different angles, stress different techniques, and generally teach you the same thing in two different ways. If you can pick up different things from the different books, you'll be better rounded. This happened to me most recently with the two current Elixir books (from O'Reilly and PragProg.)

Yes, this is four times the work of just reading one book once, but there you have it.

I also sometimes start a programming project on my own away from the book early. I'll struggle through things early on, but as I'm reading the book, I'll see more things I can use immediately and that feedback loop will help.

And, yes, type everything in by hand. Don't copy-and-paste small code samples from the book. The exception here are the data files used for testing purposes of Rails apps or some ridiculously long CSS file that's not what you're really trying to learn from. But for all the code, yes. Type.

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