The Passionate Programmer
Author: Chad Fowler

Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2009
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1934356340
Aimed at: Social misfits and hapless geeks
Rating: 2
Pros: Some amusing anecdotes
Cons: Rarely goes beyond the obvious and passionate programmers are not necessarily inept employees
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

With its subtitle, "Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development", this is supposed to be an inspirational book - sadly it didn't inspire me at least. It's not an essay on being passionate about programming - it's about how to present what you do to the world, i.e. your boss, so that they will appreciate you.

It seems to see its reader mostly as a no-hoper social misfit, i.e the typical geek. Thus it makes the assumption that you don't know how to sell yourself you lack self confidence and you were never picked for team sports. The author on the other hand oozes either confidence or arrogance depending on your viewpoint as he recounts many interviews with poor hapless potential employees. Clearly these people are so unmotivated that they really aren't passionate about programming and so need help getting there game together - aka bluffing. Perhaps they are the ideal audience for this book but it is clear that they are so useless that they probably don't read books anyway.

You could interpret some of the advice as being to do with finding ways of sucking up to management - but the mesaage is if you want to sell yourself that's what you have to do. Some of the advice is downright obvious -  be a specialist, align your goals with those of your company and so on. Some seems obvious until you think about it -  like "stay ahead of the curve" - but which curve? If you could guess what was going to be so successful in the future you could use your talents to win a lottery or two.

Chad Fowler presents some amusing anecdotes and even some things that might get you thinking, but only if you haven't already bothered to think about them for yourself.

Many of the more positive reviewers on Amazon seem to value the book greatly but I can't see why. If this is your first job you may need some pointers about dealing with management. If you are fairly useless at programming and have little idea what is going on then you might be able to use the ideas to improve your perceived performance. But if you really are passionate about programming then you are probably happy without needing to read this book - now there's an inspirational statement.

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 January 2010 )