Choosing a good book on a particular field from several books on the subject out there can be challenging.
Unless a book is covering a documentation about some topic, just go to documentation instead of reading the book. Beyond that, any book it’s like other people opinions. Just because a book receives good reviews it does not mean it’s good. Apply the same pattern to movie reviews and you’ll see that it’s just other people opinions.
What really matter is the way the author teaches about the subject. It needs to match your way of understanding and thinking. This is the most important part.
It’s important that the author actually knows what is talking about. It doesn’t need to be a master of the subject. Skilled people on their field tends to be less good writers, they think technically and uses terms that are difficult to understand.
Books tends to be more expensive if they are big. It really doesn’t matter the size of the book. Some writers makes big books on purpose. Not because they need to be, but because they knows that many people think that if a book is really big, it must be great and contain all information that is needed.
If you’re the one that prefers screencasts over books, then it’s more difficult to find good resources out there. Big pages of content and newsletters containing a history of the way the author learned something tends to be more biased.
Generally speaking they are good writers with some information about the topic, normally witnessed a change in his life and now intends to sell to other people because it’s good.
So the resources are popular, but just because it’s popular doesn’t mean that it fits your way of thinking and understanding. So what can you do about that?
Being an expert on a sub-subject before buying
When I need to choose any content, no matter what the subject is, I try to gain some basic knowledge of it. If it’s related to programming languages, I try to learn some basics of the language like
date and time, etc…
I try to learn a lot of information and if possible do some tests about it. When I feel I understand the basic of the subject, now I can compare and see if the author/writer is good to teach about it.
Doing this is good because I can compare the content with the knowledge I already posses. If I can understand very well what the author is teaching about what I already know, chances are that he or she will explain the rest of the content just as well.
And I found out for the most part this is true.
A reference is a must if you want to master any subject. But the reference isn’t the first thing you need. Normally references lacks explanation and examples and that’s because a reference it’s just a reference.
Today many programming languages keep their references online and it is worth studying the reference before you buy anything related.
So, what’s a good resource?
- Needs to match your way of thinking, you already know the basic of the subject, and the author explains it very well you can understand easily;
- The examples used is good and you can understand quickly;
- The author get straight to the point;
- Begins at a level of your current skills.
Some book or screencast that explains the history of something it’s a waste. History - even if it’s interesting - it’s for history books. You can locate some information online. And does not waste time teaching some content that is easily to find on the internet.