Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Five Books To Read If You Want My Job

This came out of a conversation I had today with a few other test leads.  the question was, “What are the top 5 books you should read if you want my job?”  My job in this case being that of a test development lead.  At Microsoft that means I lead a team (or teams) of people whose job it is to write software which automatically tests the product. 

  • Behind Closed Doors by Johanna Rothman – One of the best books on practical management that I’ve run across.  1:1’s, managing by walking around, etc.
  • The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike– Similar to Code Complete but a lot more succinct.  How to be a good developer.  Even if you don’t develop, you have to help your team do so.
  • Design Patterns by Gamma et al – Understand how to construct well factored software.
  • How to Break Software by James Whittaker – The best practical guide to software testing.  No egg headed notions here.  Only ideas that work.  I’ve heard that How We Test Software at Microsoft is a good alternative but I haven’t read it yet.
  • Smart, and Gets Things Done by Joel Spolsky – How great developers think and how to recruit them.  Get and retain a great team.


This is not an exhaustive list.  There is a lot more to learn than what is represented in these books, but these will touch on the essentials.  If you have additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments.


  1. I red "Behind Closed Doors" by Johanna Rothman, it is a very good book. Thanks for the other suggestions.

  2. Behind Closed Doors?  I though I read all the books you read Steve.... Okay that's a new one.  Buying it now! :)

  3. Refactoring, by Martin Fowler is an excellent read for anyone who has to deal with other peoples code in their absense, which is pretty common these days I'd guess.  Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Kaner and Bach is another worthwhile read as is Automated Software Testing: Introduction, Management, and Performance by Elfriede Dustin.