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During 2010 our contributors added over 250 book reviews so the task of selecting the top ten titles has not been an easy one. However, getting a 5-star rating on I Programmer, a pre-requisite for inclusion in this list, is a rare accolade and I've been helped by my fellow reviewers in choosing from that shortlist. The final ranking is determined by the popularity of the review.
In the time-honoured tradition of counting down we start our list with our selection in the career development category, (Click on the links to read the full reviews.)
Reflections on Management published by Addison Wesley. At the time of writing the review its author, Watts S Humpreys, had recently died but that wasn't the reason it was given the top possible rating. It deserves its five stars for being a highly readable book that has advice for anybody and everybody in the software industry. The prose is consistently of a high standard so that what might have seemed like glorified common sense coming from some other writer comes over as sound advice anchored in real experience - something that is backed by the generous use of personal anecdotes from a prestigious career.
Next on the list we come to Ian Elliot's choice of a C# 4.0 reference for developers who are already familiar with earlier versions of the language. In Essential C# 4.0 (Addison Wesley) author Mark Michaelis presents clear explanations that are well paced. It is a book that focuses on the C# language and only strays from its core topic if it illuminates the way the language is used. Starting from the very basics it works its way through the foundations of the language - data types, flow control, methods, classes, Inheritance, Interfaces - and goes to more advanced topics such as delegates, the effect of LINQ on collection objects, reflection, PLINQ, multi-threading using the Task Parallel Library, interop and the CLI.
I Programmer's spreadsheet guru, Janet Swift, is currently working her way through the crop of Excel 2010 titles that appeared during the year. Her choice of the best so far is Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald published in the Pogue Press series of titles that attempt to make up for the lack of printed documentation to accompany today's generation of software and hardware. This is a hefty tome of nearly 900 pages and summed up as "Comprehensive and well-written with lots of gems". Comparing it with other titles she has reviewed, Janet concludes:
"This is the best one I've read yet for serious Excel users - those who want more than just an introduction for the complete novice. If you are in this category it's a worthy addition to the bookshelf."
Returning to core programming topics we next recommend Jim Waldo's Java: The Good Parts from O'Reilly described by Mike James as "a deep and intelligently written book on what makes Java a good language". His bottom line is, "Highly recommended if you are a Java expert or just about to make the transition to be one. " It may come a surprise, then, to read within the body of the review:
"The first chapter is on the Type system and I have to say I profoundly disagree with Waldo's, and many other's ideas of how class and interface should be used. This said, I really enjoyed reading it and it made me think quite hard about the arguments I would use to prove a different point of view."
As I Programmer's book review editor I am always pleased to read such comments that act as a reminder that the people who write our reviews are experts in their fields and often add value by telling you more something about the topic as well as about a specific book.