I am sometimes asked "so how do you keep up-to-date with all that's happening in the industry?".
The problem is making time for these endeavours. Usually I will alternate between them, much like a buffet, occasionally gorging on a particular topic when I am in the right frame of mind. Obsessive? possibly... but I think it's important to have a varied diet to keep it exciting.
Online articles and coding websites are great for picking up the odd skill or two but they often lack the depth required for some topics.
I had attempted to reconcile my love of technical books and mitigate some of their downsides (size, weight, cost and errata) by purchasing a Sony PRS-500 and seeking out digital versions of titles. I bought the unit when it first launched a couple of years ago and since then it has seen relatively little action. It's been quite a disappointment. The main problem is screen size, or lack thereof. It's way too small to render diagrams and code snippets with clarity. If your primary goal is to read technical books then I'd suggest avoiding the unit altogether and consider a tablet PC instead. That, or take a look at the much larger 9.7" Kindle DX.
I have recently purchased a round of new books in dead-tree format, which I intend to read over the coming weeks...
SOA in Practice: The Art of Distributed System Design - Nicolai M. Josuttis
What are the two rules of distributed computing?
1. Do not distribute, it's difficult
2. See #1 (asynchronously)
I know, I know, it's a terrible joke! I had been looking around for an authoritative book on SOA and distributed systems and this book came highly recommended for cutting through the hype. The accompanying website can be found here.
Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed - Adam Nathan
I have a minor confession. I have zero WPF experience, which is a little embarrassing since it replaced GDI+ long, long ago.
Unlike many other technical books this one is printed on glossy paper in full colour and totally jam packed with pictures and diagrams. Perfect presentation for learning a presentation framework!
An ex-colleague, Jack Ukleja, recommended this book.
The Definitive ANTLR Reference - Terrence Parr
I purchased a digital copy of this book some time ago and have nearly finished reading it... in the bath... on my PRS-500... wrapped rather optimistically in cling film. This time I figured I'd buy the paper version and risk the £16.88 it would cost me to replace if I dropped it!
Bath + electrical items != mix.
Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools - Various
Probably the densest, in both physical and subject matter, of all the books I purchased. I had a quick flick through some of the material and it looks pretty heavy going and full of maths. I anticipate that this will take a long time to read and no doubt expose many other holes in my knowledge along the journey.
My primary motivation was to supplement the ANTLR book with other compiler topics.
Collective Intelligence in Action - Satnam Alag
A rather interesting book intended for a Java audience, but which contains mathematics and algorithms suitable for implementation elsewhere. I discovered the book whilst surfing the internet for recommendation engines, which itself was a spur from reading about a recommendation engine that Joel Pobar had written in F#.
Hopefully this book will shed some insight on writing a sophisticated Web 2.0 application.
NHibernate in Action - Various
Another re-purchase of a book I own in digital form. I have followed it through the Manning Early Access Program.
My main gripe is that it doesn't cover the newest version of NHibernate, but given the time it takes to write a book and the speed at which frameworks evolve it's forgivable.
One of the best references for NHibernate available today.
Here Comes Everybody - Clay Shirky
If I had a dollar for every time I heard Jeff Atwood mention Clay Shirky on the StackOverflow podcast I'd probably be able to buy this book without opening my wallet! Instead, I decided to spend my own money and discover the material for myself.
It comes highly rated and promises some insight on the huge changes we are seeing on the internet today with social networking and the wisdom (or madness) of crowds.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less - Barry Schwartz
This is the least technical book of the bunch, cited as a reference in The Cult of the Amateur - a book I really enjoyed reading on my travels.
I would probably consider myself a 'maximiser' when it comes to making purchases - perhaps this book will change the way I rationalise my spending decisions? Perhaps it will change the way I buy books? :)
Simply put, read books and treat your education as a #1 priority.
Bill Hicks would probably agree (just with more swearing):