Book recommendations for developers

To me it’s essential as a developer to read books, and not just looking things up on the internet. The depth of a book can not be compared to almost anything you find on the web. Keeping your knowledge fresh is important and I tend to try to read my books as often as I feel like it and have the time. What you learn by reading a book once is nothing compared to reading it perhaps two or more times.

I’ll share with you a selection of books I have, mostly in my Kindle or Leanpub library, which I’ve found to help me a lot. Some of the books are not PHP specific, but are for developers in general or about software development as a concept. Some of the books are a lot about code while others are more about getting you to think about what you’re doing and how you can improve it.

This post was last updated 2015-08-15


  • The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master (A. Hunt & D. Thomas)
    This should be the bible for all developers. It doesn’t just teach you how to write code, but also how to be a good developer. Touching subjects such as developing your knowledge portfolio, fighting technical debt, etc. A definite must read.
  • Code Complete (S. McConnell)
    This book can be a bit tough to get through, but it’s worth it. The aim is for you to write high quality code, covering a wide range of topics.
  • The Art of Readable Code (D. Boswell & T. Foucher)
    An excellent book filled with tips and thoughts on how to write code as readable as possible. Readability is one of the most important aspects of a large code base with many developers involved.
  • Deal With It (G. Davies)
    A short book about different actual real world situations that developers encounter and how they should be dealt with. Enjoy!
  • Implementing Domain-Driven Design (V. Vernon)
    An introduction to DDD with practical examples. Can be quite difficult to grok everything and you might need to read it more than once, I sure know I did at least.
  • Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code (J. Atwood)
    The first part of the series in collections of blog posts from the legendary Jeff Atwood writing on his blog Coding Horror.
  • How to Stop Sucking and Be Awesome Instead (J. Atwood)
    The second part of the series in collections of blog posts from Coding Horror.


  • The Grumpy Programmer’s Guide To Building Testable PHP Applications (C. Hartjes)
    I think that untested code is not great code. Chris Hartjes has been an advocate for writing testable code for a long time and has developed his online prescense as the “grumpy programmer”. His book is an excellent book on writing tests and how to write testable code, and it’s definitely worth more than the $20 as the suggested price is.
  • PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice (M. Zandstra)
    Some excellent stuff on PHP development in general. The part I find most essential to a developer here is the design patterns. It gives you a number of best practice examples of how to design your code using patterns.
  • PHPUnit Pocket Guide (S. Bergmann)
    Should be quiet obvious from the title what it’s about. Learn the PHPUnit framework from the author of the framework itself.
  • Build APIs You Won’t Hate (P. Sturgeon)
    If you’re interested in building RESTful APIs in PHP, read this.
  • Domain-Driven Design in PHP (C. Buenosvinos, C. Soronellas, K. Akbary)
    If you don’t have a clue what DDD is, you should probably read Implementing Domain-Driven Design first. But this is the only good adaption of DDD to PHP I’ve found and it’s a great resource.

Laravel (PHP)

  • Laravel: From Apprentice To Artisan (T. Otwell)
    If you’re interested in best practices and architecture when writing Laravel applications, this book is amazing. Written by the creator or Laravel itself. Note that the book is written for Laravel 4.
  • Implementing Laravel (C. Fidao)
    Real world examples for writing great code with Laravel, with a focus on testable and maintainable code. This one too is written for Laravel 4 but because of this the book is now available for free!
  • Laravel Testing Decoded (J. Way)
    Anything related to testable code in Laravel you could dream of, written by Laravels most prominent teacher and creator of Laracasts. Also written for Laravel 4 but many concepts will apply to the latest version.


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  • Steve Popoola

    Hi Niklas,

    I came across your blog while scratching my head over an issue I had when trying to access a request parameter from Angular js in Laravel backend. Thanks for that post!

    I agree totally that reading books makes you a better developer. While the internet may provide an instant solution to your problem, a good book deepens your understanding of the subject matter and helps you understand ways to solve known problems. PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice was a book that helped me understand designs patterns with PHP. Another book that helped me understand Design Patterns is Head First Design Patterns by Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra. Although the underlying examples were in Java but the book was written in such a simplified manner that made it easy to understand.

    So yes, developers should be encouraged to read books.


    • Thank you for the suggestions! I’ll probably update this post soon with some more books that I’ve read recently.