Useful Reference Books

This article has been opened up so any member who is bronze or above can edit and update. Please add your suggestions!

I get a lot of requests from readers about which books are best for learning MFC, ASP, ATL, etc., but with hundreds of books coming out each year, and technology moving ahead in leaps and bounds, keeping up with what’s best is hard. Which books have helped you the most?

Here’s a list of faves sent in by readers. If you are just starting out in the industry then don’t get lured into buying only books that deal with the language you are working in. Read books on how to program. You will save you and your employer a lot of stress. The “Programming Discipline and Design” section below lists a bunch of great books worth reading.

Programming Discipline and Design

    • Writing Solid Code – Steve Maguire
    • Mythical Man-Month – Frederick P. Brooks Jr
    • Code Complete – Steve McConnell

    • The Art of Computer Programming – Knuth
    • Algorithms – Robert Sedgewick
    • Debugging Applications – John Robbins
    • Taligent’s Guide to Designing Programs – Taligent
    • Design Patterns – Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides
    • The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactices for an Imperfect World (Apress) – Christoper Duncan
    • Unite The Tribes – Christopher Duncan
    • Advanced Windows Debugging – Mario Hewardt, Daniel Pravat
    • Windows® Internals: Including Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Fifth Edition (Pro Developer) – Mark Russinovich, David A. Solomon, Alex Ionescu
    • The Pragmatic Programmer – Andrew Hunt & David Thomas

    • The Psychology of Computer Programming – Gerald Weinberg

    • Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices – Robert C. Martin

    • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship – Robert C. Martin

    • The Art of Unit Testing: With Examples in .Net – Roy Osherove

    • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture – Martin Fowler

    • Domain-Specific Languages – Martin Fowler

    • Continuous Delivery – Martin Fowler

C / C++

  • The C Programming Language (Prentice Hall) – Kernigan and Ritchie
  • The C++ Programming Language – Bjarne Stroustroup
  • Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ – Bjarne Stroustroup
  • Effective and More Effective C++ – Scott Meyers
  • Inside Visual C++ – David J. Kruglinski
  • C++ How to Program – H. M. Deitel, P. J. Deitel
  • Thinking in C++ (2nd Ed) – Bruce Eckel


    • A Programmer’s Introduction to C#, 2nd edition (Apress) – Eric Gunnerson
    • Inside C#, 2nd edition (Microsoft Press) – Tom Archer
    • Component-Based Development with Visual C# (M&T books) – Ted Faison
    • C# Essentials, 2nd edition (O’Reilly) – Ben Albahari, Peter Drayton & Brad Merrill
    • C# in Depth – Jon Skeet

    • CLR via C#, 3rd Edition – Jeffrey Richter
    • C# Programming Language (Covering C# 4.0) – Anders Hejlsberg
    • Programming Entity Framework – Julia Lerman
    • C# 5.0 In a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference – Joseph Albahari & Ben Albahari


  • Debugging ASP.NET (New Riders) – Jonathon Goodyear, Brian Peek, Brad Fox
  • Designing Microsoft ASP.NET Applications (Microsoft Press) – Jonathon Goodyear, Brian Peek, Brad Fox
  • Microsoft ASP.NET Step by Step (Microsoft Press) – G. Andrew Duthrie
  • Deploying and Managing Microsoft .NET Web Farms (Sams) – Barry Bloom
  • Professional ASP.NET MVC 3 (Wrox) – Jon Galloway, Phil Haack, Brad Wilson, K. Scott Allen

Windows API

  • Programming Windows 95 – Charles Petzold and Paul Yao
  • Programming Applications for Windows – Jeffrey Richter
  • Advanced Windows – Jeffrey Richter
  • Visual C++ Windows Shell Programming – Dino Esposito


  • Programming Windows 95 with MFC – Jeff Prosise
  • MFC Internals – George Shepherd and Scot Wingo
  • Professional MFC with Visual C++ – Mike Blaszczak


  • Professional ASP Techniques for Webmasters – Alex Homer



  • Windows CE Developers Handbook – Terence A. Goggin
  • Programming Windows CE – Douglas Boling (Microsoft Press)
  • Essential Windows CE Application Programming -Robert Burdick (Wiley)


  • Essential COM – Don Box
  • Professional COM Applications with ATL – Sing Li and Panos Economopoulos
  • Creating Lightweight Components with ATL – Jonathan Bates
  • Inside ALT – George Shepherd and Brad King
  • Understanding DCOM – William Rubin and Marshall Brain
  • Programming Distributed Applications with COM and Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 – Ted Pattison
  • Inside OLE, 2nd Edition – Kraig Brockschmidt

WPF / Silverlight / Windows Phone / WinRT

  • Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed – Adam Nathan
  • Pro WPF In Visual Studio x – Matthew MacDonald
  • Windows Phone Unleashed – Daniel Vaughan
  • Silverlight x Unleashed – Laurent Bugnion
  • Programming Windows – Charles Petzold (yes, he’s done a Windows 8 version)
  • Building Windows 8 Apps with C# and XAML – Jeremy Likness

OOP (Object-Oriented Programming)

    • Head First Object-Oriented Analysis and Design – Brett D. McLaughlin, Gary Pollice, and Dave West

Web Pages/WebMatrix

    • Beginning ASP.NET Web Pages with WebMatrix – Mike Brind and Imar Spaanjaars

    • Building ASP.NET Web Pages with Microsoft WebMatrix – Steve Lydford


    • Windows 8 Apps with XAML and C# Unleashed – Adam Nathan

    • Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – Kraig Brockschmidt


    • JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual – David Sawyer McFarland

    • Murach’s JavaScript and jQuery by Zak Ruvalcaba and Mike Murach

  • Building A JavaScript Framework – dailyjs


    • HTML5 24-Hour Trainer – Joseph W. Lowery and Mark Fletcher


    • CSS3: The Missing Manual – David Sawyer McFarland



    • Beginning Android Tablet Application Development – Wei-Meng Lee

    • Programming Android – Zigurd Mednieks, Laird Dornin, G. Blake Meike, and Masumi Nakamura

    • Android Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach – Dave Smith and Jeff Friesen

    Regular Expressions



    C Sharp, SQL Server, ASP.NET, Performance

    1. C# Text Manipulation Handbook
    2. C# Threading Handbook
    3. C# Class Design Handbook
    4. Maximizing .NET Performance
    5. Practical .NET for Financial Markets
    6. Ultra-Fast ASP.NET: Build Ultra-Fast and Ultra-Scalable web sites using ASP.NET and SQL Server (5 star)
    7. SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled (5 star)
    8. Professional Team Foundation Server 2010 (5 star)