The Passionate Programmer – Review

Title: The Passionate Programmer
Author: Chad Fowler
Published by: The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2009
Date finished: 5 March 2014
My rating*: 7/10


If you are the sort of person to pick this book up and read it, there is every chance that you will already do a fair amount of the suggestions within. Sadly, the people that could get the most out of this book will probably never learn of its existence…

Many of the chapters suggested things that I would already consider ‘normal’ in my day job, regardless of how passionate I was. Things like understanding the business (not just the code), being a good communicator, paying attention to your writing skills and appreciating the value that you bring to the business are things that I think every good employee should be paying attention to. And every programmer should be keeping abreast of new technologies and developing a deeper understanding of the things they use on a regular basis.

I also got the impression that if you tried to do everything that this book suggests, you would end up with zero time left for anything else in your life (given that you are going to be reading, blogging, coding and networking in your spare time, let alone while you are at work).

However, those two criticisms aside, I did like the book overall. It was a good read – a worthwhile read. Particularly if you’re a programmer who has lost your way, or you’re just fed up to the back teeth of your day job. It’s the kind of book that can help you rekindle your interest in a subject that may have become routine and boring.

I particularly liked Chapter 27 ‘Learn to Love Maintenance’, which points out that software maintenance, while often perceived as boring and dull, can be a golden opportunity for proactive learning and improvement – especially as so many of us can find ourselves in a maintenance role. Chapter 15, ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’ is also very good. I paid special attention to Chapter 32 ‘Say It, Do It, Show It’ on planning and I really liked the idea of 30,60 and 90 day strategic plans. Chad is talking about applying this in the work environment, but for someone like me it’s a good approach to a more disciplined use of my spare time. I am keen to implement this and hopefully have more focus on the tasks I approach each day.

The lasting impression from this book is that everything comes down to what you are doing. Not what you think about, or what you’d like to do. I like this, because I agree with it. Life is made up of all the things you do, not all the things you think you’d like to do. This is a real wake-up call for those of us who procrastinate too much and have dozens of unread books on our shelves gathering dust (ahem).

* I assign a star rating to my reviews based on my general (and highly subjective) opinion of:
a) how much I enjoyed reading the book
b) how useful and accurate the information contained within is
c) how easy it is to apply what you’ve learnt