On Wednesday we attended & sponsored Plato's awesome Engineering event Elevate in San Francisco (600 attendees, 30 speakers, 100 workshops)

There, we decided to play a game and ask people one question: "What's your favorite Engineering book? We'll deliver it to one of your friends."

We had answers from C-Levels, VP of Software and Engineering Managers at Brex, Netflix, Twitter, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Google, Doximity, Retool, NerdWallet, Relativity, Amplitude, Karat, DataGrail, WorkDay etc. and everybody had a say.

Each of the first 4 books were mentioned many times (we had Smart & Gets Things Done as a giveaway on our booth, that might have helped…) and #5 was definitely a surprise so we decided to include it in our top 5!

Scroll to the end to see the extensive list and leave us a comment if a book is missing — we'll build a second (even more extensive) list!

#1— High Output Management (Andrew Grove)

Why: High Output Management is one of the few management books actually written by a world-class leader without the help of a ghostwriter.

It covers techniques for creating & maintaining highly productive teams that achieve peak performance — and goes into details such as leading a meeting, managing one-on-ones, and planning your day as a manager. A Silicon Valley absolute must-read.


#2 — Smart & Gets Things Done (Joel Spolsky)

Why: Joel Spolsky has written 1114 articles on his personal blog (to this day).

This is a collection of his most leverageable articles on building & leading a team of software engineers, going from the ideal person you should be looking for (someone smart & who gets things done) to the technical assessment & actual sourcing of candidates. Worth reading if you're struggling with hiring (after reaching out to us ofc).


#3 — Managing Humans (Michael Lopp)

Why: Managing Humans is a selection of the best essays from Michael Lopp’s web site, Rands in Repose. Drawing on his management experiences at Apple, Netscape, Symantec, and Borland, Lopp tries to help people managing "bits" to managing humans — basically moving from an IC to a manager.


#4 — The Mythical Man Month (Fred Brooks)

Why: Fred Brooks first published this book in 1975, based on his experiences at IBM in the 60s and coined the Brook's Law: "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later."

An excellent read for anyone in charge of product delivery (ahead or behind schedule) that is still surprisingly up-to-date!


#5 — How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish)

Why: The ultimate “parenting bible” seems to be applicable to Management too! Above parenting, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is an awesome communication book and most advice (communicating with feelings, encouraging autonomy, praising…) can be abstracted away from parent-child relationships. Gain a competitive edge and management skills by reading this book that you will not find in your usual IC-turned-manager toolkit!


Extensive list:

What about you? Share your recommendations in the comments so that we have material for a second recommendation list!