50 Books and 10,000 Articles that Helped Shape Me as a Software Developer and as a Person
One of the top 10 questions that I receive during a conversation with someone new is “What do you read?” Although I can’t list out every single thing I’ve read, I can provide a list of articles and books that I’ve completed (I’ve kept a comprehensive list). I don’t know how many thousands of articles I’ve started reading and did not complete, or how many books I’ve partially read, extracting only the relevant information out of them, but I do know how many books I’ve completed and the number of articles I’ve read since November, 2014. As of this writing, I’ve read 10,459 articles and 53 books.
Each time I finish reading a book, I will update this article (Last Update: 07/29/2020).
How do I know how many articles I’ve read? It’s actually quite simple…now. But the history was rough, to say the least. Six years ago (2014), I noticed that my anxiety was through the roof. I just had a child, and everything that I knew, or thought that I knew, was flipped upside down (even though he was planned). As prepared as you think you are, you aren’t. Your life is now devoted to that child (and you’ll love every second of it).
My mind was always abused by the amount of reading I was pumping out each day. For example, I started my programming career by sitting down 6–8 hours each day and reading books until I finally got it (this was 2009 and YouTube didn’t have the kind of content it does now; I’ve done an insane amount of YouTube learning since then). I was also in college going towards a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, so there was a ton of studying there too. After my son was born, I abruptly stopped doing this and focused exclusively on my family and my work. If you manage your time well, you’ll notice that there are a lot of hours in the day. My brain had all the time in the world to think, and thinking it did. I’m reading a book on Mindfulness right now and I’m realizing all of the negatives that can come from that if you don’t manage your thoughts correctly.
Out of boredom one day, I picked up a book and started reading. I finished it a few days later. I picked up another one and started reading it too. I think my subconscious figured out that this lowers my anxiety. It allows me to focus on one thing and live in the moment. I slowly started adding additional mind-stimulating obsessions to my plate until my free-time was utterly consumed. I had a check-list on my phone and I checked it off each day.
- Read 25-50 pages of any book.
- Read 20+ articles each day.
- Spend 30 minutes studying German (I took German in High School).
- Spend 30 minutes each day learning to play the piano.
- Write at least 10 lines of code not related to work.
- Do research for any amount of time. I chose Brain Signal mapping.
- Do weight-lifting for any amount of time each day.
- Ride bicycle for any amount of time each day, but strive for 10 miles (I live right next to a bike trail so I don’t have to drive anywhere).
Quite a list. Although it may give you anxiety, I felt happy. That is until my brother said something. I had started to allow the list to spill into my regular day. My wife, son, and I were at my parents house and my brother stopped by too. I was reading my 40th article that day. He looked at my wife and said, “Dino’s going to be reading his articles during your funeral.” I realized at that moment that I was completely obsessed and it was not healthy anymore to do this.
After a couple of weeks I told my wife that I’m going back to school and would take 1 class each semester. I went back in 2015 and completed my B.S. degree in Computer Science in July 2019. Towards the end I realized that college was not what it used to be so I took 3 classes per semester. I had developed such a strong study habit that I did not have to devote the kind of time that I used to outside of class. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely delivered. For example, in Software Engineering, the average code submitted for each groups final project was 500 to 600 lines of code. My group, which consisted of me and one other guy, had 12,000 lines of code, 11,000 of which were written by me.
During Mobile App Development, the final project required us to pick 3 out of the 40 major categories that we talked about in class and make an app. I picked all 40 categories. In Programming Language Concepts, I wrote 950 study questions (with answers) and gave them to my Professor to distribute to the class if she chose to do so; those questions are distributed to each class to this day. I even took on an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant role and did some Undergraduate Research. I was home at 3:00 pm each day and took certain classes at or after 8:00 pm so that my son could say, “My dad was always there.” Life was good and continues to be good.
Back to the story of how in the world I knew that I read 10,459 articles. In 2014 I tried the following:
- Bookmark each article read. In order to get an accurate count though, I would have to manually count each one. It just wasn’t practical.
- Placed everything into an Excel sheet. Although the count was there, and the sheet itself was synchronized using Dropbox, it was not convenient, especially when using your phone.
- Twitter! It just happened. I saw how many tweets someone had and it just clicked. I could share each article on Twitter and that would give me an accurate count. I could review some of the articles that I’ve read if I wanted to and if Twitter ever shut down, I could export an Excel sheet and have a backup of all of my tweets (articles read). I deleted all of the tweets from my account and used it exclusively to share articles from that point on. I never replied to anyone or re-tweeted anything since that would falsely increase the number of tweets that I had.
205 days later, June 20th, 2015, I read 5,028 articles. That came out to roughly 24.5 articles per day.
After reading 10,000 articles, I could not see the accurate number any more so I tapped into Twitter’s API and created a page for myself that shows me a few details. Twitter would say 10.4K Tweets whereas my page stated 10,459.
Why did I want to know the count? It kept me motivated to keep reading more.
To see a list of articles that I’ve read over the years, you can visit my Twitter page:
Books That I’m Currently Reading
I read all kinds of stuff, but my guilty pleasure reads are Religious Conspiracies.
I only consider a book as done if I’ve read it from cover to cover, with the exception of the Copyright and Appendix. Yes, I do read each person’s name that the author thanks in the beginning of the book; sometimes I even look up to see who they are. I’m not saying that I recommend each of these books, since I don’t, but once I start reading, I try to force myself to finish even if it’s not something that’s particularly interesting to me.
Need to Read
After I finish reading what I’m reading, I’ll probably pick a book from here.