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5+2 Books Every Java Programmer Should Read in Summer 2018

By Thorben Janssen


Reading books is my preferred way of learning. I try to read 2 books per month: 1 book about software development and 1 book about personal growth or general business advice.

I enjoy books even more than video courses, which seem to be the most popular resource nowadays and of which I recorded a few ones myself.

What about you? Do you read books?

As you are reading this article, you probably do 😉

Based on the books that I read in the last 8-12 months, I created the following lists with 5 of my (currently) favorite books about software development and I also included 2 books about alternative career advice and stress management.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links to Amazon (marked with an *). It doesn’t cost you anything extra if you decide to get one of the books, but I will earn a small commission from each purchase.

Software Development

Effective Java

It shouldn’t surprise you that the 3rd edition of Joshua Bloch’s book Effective Java (Amazon) made it on my list of recommended books for your summer vacation. A few months ago, I wrote and recorded a detailed review of it. At that time, I summarized it as follows:

Joshua Bloch does an amazing job explaining best practices and providing detailed insights into how and when to use the different Java features. Effective Java is a must-read for every professional Java developer.

5 out of 5 stars!

Full Review: Effective Java 3rd Edition – A Must-Read for Every Developer

One of the best things about this book is that Joshua Bloch split it into 90 items. Each of these items can stand on its own and shows you how to use a specific Java feature. And he also shows you when you should prefer a different approach. This structure makes the book easy to read and very helpful for your daily work. You can either read it cover to cover, as I did at the end of last year, or read a specific item that helps you implement your current task.

As I said at the beginning, it’s an amazing book and every professional Java developer should read it. If you haven’t already done that, you can get it on Amazon.

Hibernate Tips – More than 70 solutions to common Hibernate problems

You probably know that I wrote a book myself and I obviously think that it’s a great read for your summer vacation. It is based on my Hibernate Tips series which you can find here on the blog and my YouTube channel.

This book gets you more than 70 ready-to-use recipes that show you how to implement common tasks and avoid typical problems with Hibernate. About 40 of them are exclusively in the book and you can’t find them anywhere else. The tips in this book show you things like:

  • basic and advanced mappings,
  • using Hibernate’s 1st level, 2nd level, and query cache,
  • calling database functions and stored procedures,
  • defining queries at compile or run-time
  • and much more.

If you’re working with Hibernate, you should not miss this book. You can get it on Amazon (Kindle and paperback) or buy the PDF version here.

Spring Boot 2 – Moderne Softwareentwicklung mit Spring 5 (German)

Spring Boot is extremely popular, and there have been a few books written about it. I read Michael Simon’s book Spring Boot 2 – Moderne Softwareentwicklung mit Spring 5 (Amazon) and I enjoyed it.

Attention: As you probably saw at its title, this book is in German, and there is no English version available. If you don’t speak German, I’m sorry. I haven’t read any other book about Spring Boot 2 and can’t recommend an alternative.

To everyone speaking German, I want to highly recommend Michael’s book. It provides an excellent introduction to Spring Boot and different components of the Spring ecosystem for web applications, security, persistence, caching, messaging, reactive programming and testing. Michael also shows you how you can deploy your Spring Boot application on a classical server or as a microservice, monitor its health status and collect standard and custom metrics.

As you can see, the book provides a great overview of all the things you need know to write and deploy an application with Spring Boot. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. I, therefore, recommend it for your summer reading list. You can buy the book on Amazon.

Java by Comparison

This is a very useful book if you’re at a beginner or intermediate level because it addresses one of your biggest challenges: How to write good, clean and maintainable code.

Let’s be honest, that’s something that takes quite a while to learn. I’m not even sure if it’s a skill you can truly master or if it’s something we need to constantly improve on. But the one thing I’m sure about is that the Java by Comparison book helps you as a beginner or intermediate developer to get a better understanding about good Java code.

The book consists of 70 examples. In each of them, the author team shows a code sample, identifies and explains its problems and shows you how to improve it. They start with basic topics, like avoiding unnecessary comparisons when working with booleans and implementing validations in a null-safe way. Throughout the book, they increase the complexity step by step and show you how to use exceptions properly and which design best practices you should follow when implementing methods. They even provide suggestions for working with Lambdas and Streams.

If you are a beginner or intermediate developer or if you’re simply worried that Effective Java might be too advanced for you, you should get Java by Comparison (Amazon). It uses are very easy to understand language and format to teach good coding practices.

Building Microservices: Designing Fine-Grained Systems

Microservices are still relatively new and extremely popular. So, my list of book recommendations should include a book about it, right?

I decided to include Sam Newman’s book Building Microservices (Amazon) in this list because I like that Sam not only talks about the benefits of microservices but also explains their challenges. In contrast to some other authors, he does that without focussing too much on a specific framework. That makes the book a good read for all developers and architects who want to learn more about microservices and how they can help you to achieve the goals of your organization. But you should get a different book if you’re looking for framework-specific code samples and advice which you can copy and paste into your application.

Building Microservices was one of the first books that I read about microservices, and it gave me a good understanding of this architectural style. It’s obviously not the only book or resource you should study about this architectural style. But it’s a great starting point that provides you with a solid foundation and enables you to dive deeper into specific topics and frameworks.

If that sounds like an interesting read, you can get Building Microservices on Amazon.

Career and Personal Growth

Developer Hegemony

For me, the summer vacation has always been a time during which I thought about my career and made plans for the future. If it’s the same for you, you should get Erik Dietrich’s book Developer Hegemony (Amazon).

But be warned, it might change your view on the typical corporate career and might be the first step on your way to a huge change.

In his book, Erik discusses the work environment in modern corporations and shows alternative career paths for software developers. And to make it absolutely clear, he isn’t a big fan of the corporate world. He envisions a future in which independent software developers work together on different projects. If you want to learn more about alternative career paths and if you’re not afraid of a critical, sometimes even cynical, analysis of the corporate world, you should read this book.

I’m a freelancer myself and Erik’s message obviously resonated with me. That’s why I happily accepted when he asked me for an interview which he included in his book.

I know that this might not be the case for everyone. It’s totally fine if you’re happy with your corporate career and have no intention to work on your own. But if you’re tired of the standard corporate career and wonder how to change that, you should read this book (Amazon). Erik gives a lot of valuable insides that might change your future.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Sh*t Together

Sherry Walling wrote this book (Amazon) for entrepreneurs, but I think it can help everyone who has a lot of stuff going on and is looking for a few ideas to handle stress.

And on a personal note, this book helped me quite a lot in this first half of 2018. The last several months have been more than busy. I knew at the beginning of 2018 that I wouldn’t be able to work for a few weeks during the summer because my family and I would be relocating to a different part of Germany. So, in the first 4-5 months of the year, I accepted every opportunity to speak at conferences, to give workshops (in-house or at conferences) and to do client work.

In hindsight, that was a good and a bad decision at the same time. It enabled me to take some time off and to focus on the relocation. But as a regular reader of my blog, you probably also recognized that I skipped quite a lot of posts and videos. To be completely honest and to say it in Sherry’s words, I struggled hard to keep my sh*t together. The stress and overall workload of preparing the relocation, doing an excellent job at all the speaking engagements and client gigs and running this blog were extremely high.

That’s when a friend in my weekly mastermind group told me about this book. I ordered it on the same evening, and it helped me quite a lot.

If you have read other books about topics like mental health or stress management or burnout, you will most likely not learn a lot of new things from this book. In one form or the other, I already knew about all the things that Sherry talks about. But she presents them in a way that got me thinking:

  • I compared the way I structure my work when my stress level is high and when it is low. As a result, I put more effort into structuring my schedule and my task list. That helps me to plan my output more realistically, and I feel less overwhelmed.
  • I also thought about the activities that help me to relax, and I started running, again. It’s so nice to go on a run in the morning, and it affects my whole day in a very positive way.

I also tried a few other things, but these two were probably the most effective ones and the ones that I want to keep doing.

So, if you’re struggling to keep your sh*t together or if you’re just looking for a few inspirations to handle the stress of your daily life, I recommend Sherry Walling’s book The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Sh*t Together (Amazon).

Books I’m Going To Read This Summer

I obviously already read the books that I recommended to you. So, I’m looking for suggestions for my own reading list. Which books did you enjoy reading recently?

These are the books that I will read next, and I hope to get a few suggestions from you before I finish them 😉

Architecting Modern Java EE Applications

I got Sebastian’s book Architecting Modern Java EE Applications (Amazon) quite a while ago, and I’m looking forward to finally reading it.

You probably know that, on an emotional level, I’m more a Java EE guy, even so, I use Spring in quite a few projects. In my opinion, Java EE 8 and the transition to the Eclipse Foundation moved Java EE in the right direction. It is a viable option to implement modern applications. Especially in combination with the MicroProfile initiative; it’s also a good fit for cloud environments.

So, let’s see what Sebastian thinks about all these topics and what are his recommendations to build modern applications with Java EE. I will most likely tell you more about this book (Amazon) in a detailed review.

Rise of the Youpreneur

Chris Ducker is the host of one of my favorite podcasts. His book Virtual Freedom (Amazon) is one of the reasons why I work with a VA who helps me with editing videos, creating images and tons of other things.

So, I have to read his new book Rise of the Youpreneur (Amazon). It seems to be a great fit for what I have been doing for the last few years: Creating valuable content and building a business around a personal brand.

About the author

Thorben is an independent consultant, international speaker, and trainer specialized in solving Java persistence problems with JPA and Hibernate.
He is also the author of Amazon’s bestselling book Hibernate Tips - More than 70 solutions to common Hibernate problems.

Books and Courses

Coaching and Consulting

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  1. I’ve been reading two books at the moment for personal growth. The first is “Hibernate Tips”. 🙂 The second is “The Data Warehouse Toolkit” by Ralph Kimball and Margy Ross. I work not only with end user applications, but also with reporting and warehousing and BI and wished to learn a bit more about the Kimball methodology of dimensional modelling. Very insightful book. I also recently finished reading “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. Its a very thought provoking book on how group culture influences the success or failure of the group. While I may not have agreed with every point, it got me thinking about how I can personally contribute towards success.

    1. The first one is an excellent choice 😉

      The other two books sound interesting. I’ll take a look at both of them. Thx!

  2. I’m thinking of picking up Effective Java, especially since he just came up with the third edition. I read the parts available for free on Amazon, and it was actually quite good. The only thing that confused me is that, at least at the time I was looking at the prices, is that the ebook was more expensive than the print edition.

    I prefer physical copies of books, anyway.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I am currently reading
    “Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success” by Benjamin Hardy.
    Still early stages but it hypes itself well 🙂

    1. I didn’t know that Benjamin Hardy wrote another book. Not sure if I will read it but I added it to my list. Thx!

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