Young IT professionals take heed: Just because you may still be paying off student loans on your hard-earned degree, it doesn’t mean traditional learning is behind you. Reading essential IT books to boost knowledge of the industry, as well as for professional development, should be an ongoing effort. If nothing else, the information presented inside them will help save you time and struggle.
As best-selling author Ryan Holiday points out, “Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you. Save yourself the trouble of learning from trial and error. Find that book. Benefit from that perspective.”
Here, we’ve outlined some essential IT books to get you started.
The IT books you don’t want to miss
You probably stare at a screen all day, and the last thing you want to do in your spare time is read IT books and other business-related literature. But consider reading a physical book: It will save your eyes the additional strain, and research says what you read on paper is absorbed and retained more than anything you read on a computer or mobile device.
With that in mind, here’s a short list (in no particular order) of eight essential IT books and other treatises on management and professional development.
1. Technical Impact: Making Your Information Technology Effective, and Keeping It That Way
Communication skills are critically important to any worker, but for IT managers who are often trying to explain the value of internal networks and systems to others unfamiliar with them, they’re extremely beneficial. This book by Al Kuebler has been designated as a helpful guide for working with people who don’t often work with IT.
2. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
Written by Laszlo Bock, this book highlights lessons from inside the Googleplex that can be applied to any tech professional’s work. Although it’s squarely rooted in the author’s expertise in human resources, the larger takeaways deal with productive collaboration and working effectively in teams.
3. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
Technology changes at such a rapid pace, it creates ripple effects throughout organizations just trying to keep up. We humans are particularly resistant to change. What’s an IT pro to do when it’s time to implement changes large or small? This book by Chip and Dan Heath offers a glimpse into the psychology of resistance and anecdotes that reveal strategies for making successful transitions.
4. The Practice of System and Network Administration
Don’t let the cover fool you into thinking it’s a textbook—it’s been described as funny and extremely lucid. This second edition breaks down system administration into four parts and offers practical advice on tools, management, security, and more. It also includes a helpful section on avoiding quick fixes and automating the right things first.
5. Agile IT Organization Design: For Digital Transformation and Continuous Delivery
Agility is a critical component of any project IT pros undertake. As a veteran IT management consultant, author Sriram Narayan offers a holistic approach to “business-IT effectiveness” He teaches the reader how to optimize everything from an agile standpoint—from building teams to designing office space and even choosing tools.
6. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
Authors Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier tout that this is the first major book to discuss the pros and cons of a movement that has quickly become buzzworthy. Those tackling new IT projects may particularly benefit from the stories of actual experiences in this book.
7. IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results
This book by Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross isn’t new, but it’s emphasis on decision-making is essential. Weill and Ross include case studies on how 200 corporations manage their IT. They don’t suggest any answers, but they do provide an accessible framework that categorizes decisions into five areas to make them easier to tackle.
8. Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation
Where else can you tune in to the leadership wisdom of more than 200 CEOs and innovators? The likes of Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Angie Hicks of Angie’s List, and Steve Case of Revolution (and formerly AOL), among others, offer their experiences and advice on creating successful strategies and cultures in this book by Adam Bryant.
Looking to read up on the fundamentals of your field? Check out one or more of these books and continue building your expertise in IT. You may even find a particular focus, like cybersecurity, that will draw you in, expand your boundaries, and differentiate you from other candidates in the industry.