Friday, April 24, 2009

Burk on Books - Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

Last year, Andy Hunt (co-author of the Pragmatic Programmer) authored a new book titled “Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware”, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it.

It’s a great book. You should stop reading this blog posting and go buy a copy of the book, then sit down and read it. Now.

OK. That was the short version, which is probably all that some of you needed to hear. The rest of this is for people who are looking for some details.

The book is published by the Pragmatic Bookshelf, it was released on October 28th, the ISBN is 1934356050, it retails for $34.95 and is worth every penny. Still not enough?  OK, I’ve got a detailed review posted on DZone in the IT Book Zone (at and you can win yourself a free copy if you read the review, post a comment, and get chosen by the Fickle Finger of Fate.

If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing that you’re looking for some insight that’s not in my other review. OK, here goes: The secret to getting the most out of the book is that you can’t just read it. Andy’s put exercises in the book and you need to do them, and do them the way it’s described, to get the most out of it. This isn’t much of a secret because Andy tells you the same thing early on in the book, and in a podcast (“Andy Hunt on Pragmatic Wetware") which is available on the website or from ITunes. The reason I bring this point up is that it is very easy to know this and somehow still not do it.

The other secret is that reading the book (and doing the exercises) is still not enough. Just like Neal Ford’s book “The Productive Programmer”, you need to actually practice the things you read about. It’s not enough to think, “Cool! I love that idea!” Until you take action, and begin practicing what you’ve read about, you won’t really benefit from knowing it.

As someone more profound than I once said, “Those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot” or, more succinctly, “To know and not do is not to know.”

Thus endeth the day's lesson.