I was recently asked about the books that I would recommend to peers. I certainly have some of the usual fare (Pragmatic Programmers, Mythical Man Month, Fowler, etc) but I had one different kind of book.
I grabbed Masters of Doom which is a biography of Johm Carmack, and John Romero, who created first person shooters at id Software.
It is such an easy, fun read. I completed it in one sitting. I couldn’t put the book down.
I have a good friend from college who worked with Graeme Devine (who is in the book) at Trilobyte (who made 11th hour, 7th Guest, …). He told me a lot of things that ended up in the book, and always gave me a good insight into the gaming industry.
And what a strange one it is. These two kids, revolutionalized the industry. The book goes into the technical challenges back in the day, and how Carmack always had a solution (after a lot of research).
Developers often work well in strange hours. I know that personally my coding gene only kicks in at 11pm. Carmack took it to the next level. He slowly used to come in to work one hour later (day one: 10am, day two 11am, etc). Finally, he settled in, working 4pm to 4am! I think that was the only way he could stay sane with some of the characters in the office :)
I recently read the book on the 2nd coming of Steve Jobs. It was interesting to think back to that as I read this book. John Romero and Steve Jobs seemed somewhat interchangable. Both larger than life. Both ‘gods’ in their worlds. Both making as many crap decisions as good ones. They also both follow their hearts.
Why would a programmer want to read this?
It isn’t about learning new design patterns. It is about getting inspired. After reading the book I was ready to take on the world. I was ready to open up IntelliJ and start coding.
It was also interesting to see the book paint Madison as an ice cold place that they couldn’t handle for more than a few months ;)