Book Review: The Mediocre Programmer

Written By: Jake Bauer | Posted: 2020-05-29 | Last Updated: 2020-05-29

The Mediocre Programmer by Craig Maloney was released this past week and can be found at themediocreprogrammer.com. It’s about the journey of becoming a better programmer passing through being a mediocre programmer and dealing with all that is associated with growing as a developer. Unlike other self-help books or books that teach one how to be better at their profession, this book is non-prescriptive and takes the reader on a journey through the many aspects of and feelings associated with being a mediocre programmer from an author with a well-established programming career.

The book is available in HTML, as a PDF, or in EPUB format. I opted to print the PDF version since I prefer reading physical copies of long texts; it’s 114 pages so it printed nicely out onto 15 pieces of paper (double sided, 4 pages per side). I managed to finish the whole book in a single evening. I enjoyed the personal nature of the book and the fact that it wasn’t written in an, “I am a super successful person, just do what I do to become like me,” way.

The book begins with a short introduction about what a mediocre programmer is and what Maloney’s motivation was for writing it. It goes on to discuss various aspects of being a professional programmer such as how we learn, motivation to learn and complete projects, how our success is measured, and the kinds of feelings that professional programmers can have which can lead to burnout or mental illness. A particularly important section is about asking for help in our careers. Many times we will feel like asking for help is admitting defeat or admitting to ourselves that we are somehow inferior, but Maloney discusses how this isn’t really the case and that seeking out help is one of the most important things a programmer can do in times of difficulty.

I am familiar with many of the things discussed throughout the book, but I still found value in reading about the experiences of a programmer who has been in the business a lot longer than I have. There is also a section dedicated to using a strategy akin to Pomodoro timers as a way to ease oneself into starting to work on projects, which I could relate to from my own experiences procrastinating when I look at a large project and what must be done (I’m sure many of my fellow university students can relate).

In my opinion, this book is an invaluable read for younger developers and new programmers. Those are the kinds of people who will benefit most from the wisdom the book has to offer, although there is still value in following along with Maloney’s journey even if you are an experienced programmer.

Also, Maloney was kind enough to release his book under the CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License so, if you enjoyed reading the book, consider donating to him.

This is my thirty-third post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at https://100daystooffload.com.