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Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual
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Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,339 ratings  ·  286 reviews
SummarySoft Skills: The software developer's life manual is a unique guide, offering techniques and practices for a more satisfying life as a professional software developer. In it, developer and life coach John Sonmez addresses a wide range of important soft topics, from career and productivity to ...

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Paperback, 470 pages
Published December 29th 2014 by Manning Publications
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Adriana Cervantes This book doesn't teach you any coding, but rather skills to get you there. If you are new to coding, I recommend,, khanacad…moreThis book doesn't teach you any coding, but rather skills to get you there. If you are new to coding, I recommend,, to get started. Hope this helps.(less)

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Josh Hamacher
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Clearly I'm in the minority, but I don't see how this book has attracted so many four- and five-star ratings here and on Amazon. I purchased it sight-unseen based entirely on the strength of the reviews and dove right in, but soon found myself skimming it, hoping to find the few passages that didn't read like they were copy for a TV infomercial commentator.

It's not that this book is entirely wrong - in fact, there is some actual useful information here. The health and fitness section, for exampl
Mateusz Dymczyk
Feb 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately don't really remember who recommended me this book because I should never listen to that source again. After checking some reviews I decided to give it a try as part of my free audible trial and I must say that was 13 hours of my life wasted. Good thing I listened to most of it while coding or doing some other things. Still could have listened to some podcasts or other books.

John is trying to (and is doing a good job at it) be pragmatic and not BS you, it's hard to argue with most
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
well, it really helpful book, especially if you're new to programming, everything you need to know about programming tips and advice. ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: php programmers

Nope. No. Don't. I just skimmed through as reading everything would have been a complete waste of time. Really, there wasn't anything useful.

I should have known, a book combining 5-6 distinct topics such as career, productivity, finances, love(?!?), health will end up not covering actually anything. Wait, did it had anything on diets?

Favorite quote:

> If you want to be more productive, you need to get more work done faster. Now, being productive doesn't guarantee you'll be effective.

So yeah
Tim O'Hearn
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 52-books-in-2016
An ambitious project that falls short. I found the first 200 pages to be helpful. In fact, they were a great source of inspiration. However, as an engineer who is just about to enter the workforce full time, there are certain parts of the book where it is clear that the author is stretching himself too thin while trying to hit his content quotas.

The resume writing section is decent food for thought but horrible advice. I've spent a lot of time lurking on LinkedIn and reviewing my peers' resumes
Rod Hilton
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Soft Skills is a book for software development that isn't about software development. Author John Sonmez discusses how to manage your career, how to interview, how to prepare a resume, how to market yourself, how to improve your ability to learn and take in new information, how to experiment with new technologies, how to improve your productivity and, surprisingly, even how to manage your finances and how to stay in physical shape.

The book is, for the most part, extremely valuable. A lot of the
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alternative title: How I got where I am

Alternative alternative title: How to be a functioning adult, for programmers

This has very little to do with "soft skills" the way I'm used to the term. In my head, soft skills means social skills, and I thought I'd get something like Emotional Intelligence. What this actually is is a collection of ~70 blog-post length articles on practically everything the author did to become a successful programmer:

The reality of the situation, though, is that everything
Adrian Sanchez
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I got this book at a time when I felt like my software development career has started to become boring. A time when I felt unmotivated. A time when I wasn't learning new things... when I feel like I'm being left behind, and when i feel like my skills were stagnating and quickly becoming obsolete.

Soft Skills was the perfect book that I needed.

The book is full of practical advice that will help you improve your overall life as a software developer. It covers a very broad range of topics that are
An Nguyen
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read about 1/4 of the book before I had to finally throw in the towel.

The author seems like a nice person but a lot of his credentials seem questionable at best. He has a lot of things to brag about throughout the course of the book but it's hard to believe a lot of the time.

He doesn't come across as an expert at all. The book covers such a wide range of advice and topics with such little depth that there is hardly any useful or practical information that can be scavenged from it. In fact, I f
Mohammad Khatib
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed the amount of diverse topics this book had, from different career paths you can choose as a programmer to negotiating your salary to investing.

It really gives you a bird's-eye view of your past, current and future career moves and what you could have done better and what you could do better in in the future. I wish I've read this earlier in my career, though I wouldn't be sure if I would relate to it as much as now, it felt that I am reading it at the right time, but a lot of the detail
Šimon Tóth
TL;DR: This book was recommended in a podcast I listen to. I don't understand why.

Honestly, if you never ever read anything about good lifestyle, self-improvement, management, finances, etc... then this book is a passable introductory point.

For me, it was very information sparse material (many words, little substance). Each chapter has a summary, introduction and then another summary with a generally vague text in the middle. After reading it (actually listening to the audio-book which is in thi
Paweł Rusin
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Your mileage my vary but most probably that's not the book you want to read.
If you struggle with advancing your career, get yourself a book on advancing your career.
If you struggle with personal finance, get yourself a book on personal finance.
If you struggle with staying fit, get yourself a book on fitness.
This book tries to cover all those topics (and many more) but all of them are covered in too general, incomplete and sometimes inaccurate fashion.

Also, this book does not really have much of
Alex Ott
Very US-specific. There are some good advice, but not everything could be adapted as-is.
Abdul-Vakhab Emiev
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book is pretty good introductory to almost every single dimension of life. The truth is that John's tempting to cover everything but it's hard to do so. But the book successfully creates the anchors which you can stick with your further upgrowth. I found this book useful, especially the section on productivity. ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Soft Skills by John Z. Sonmez offers a holistic approach on all the things you should know as a developer. Starting with your career, how to marketing yourself, how to improve your productivity and faster learning over to your spirit, your finances and your personal fitness. All that is covered on 500 pages and will help you to find your better self. It’s however not done with reading the book. You will have to put in a lot of time and effort. Luckily John shows how you easily can get the needed ...more
Jason Lowenthal
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I find this book both informative and direct with the lessons it teaches.

Unfortunately, due to an educational background that I'm lucky enough to possess, most of the lessons taught in this book are only reminders and reflection points for me. I got a computer science degree and a business degree - which is pretty much a good succinct synopsis of this book.

Most of the programmers I know didn't take the time to take marketing classes, or health classes, or investing classes while in college. Thi
Jan Holcapek
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, paperback
Haven't read the whole book, since it really is a kind of a reference manual (as the subtitle reads). Based on the title, I have mistakenly expected the book is focused on communication/behavioral soft skills only/mainly, yet it covers broader range of soft skills, including setting short/long term goals, salary negotiation (good one for sure), going freelancing, even staying in a good (physical) shape, and investing and retirement plan. I will surely get back to this book should the need arise. ...more
Vladimir Rybalko
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
My friends have recommended me this book. Firstly I was skeptical about it.
I don't image how anyone could write a whole book about so restricted theme.
How many words you can tell about software engineers soft skills? I suppose a couple of dozen words not more. But author could did a big deal. It's fantastic but John collect as much advices as he can. Moreover those advices were enough for the whole book, the good book.
There are many useful advices in the book. However the general lack is too m
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Very broad book with good and not so good topics. First part of this book covers branding, self marketing and how to sell you or your product from a developer's perspective. From there, so many empty tips and tricks fullfil all the remaning pages. Some of them, for example the financial one, has some obvious yet important tips you might find useful. I'd recommend this book if you're interested in promoting yourself or if you're struggling in "what's next" you could focus or achieve in your caree ...more
Nov 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Reads like a bland informercial. It feels like the author is writing just to fill the word count quota, which is basically what he tells us multiple times in the book. The only reason for the second star is a few chapters that focus more on the personal experience of the author. This book has content for maybe two blog posts, which is what it should have been. Skip.
Daniel Noventa
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book written in bite sized chapters. Not all of the information is common sense, but it is written in an accessible way. Recommended read for anyone wanting to get a little more life out of life. There may be a few times where he shamelessly pitches his own products, but the tools mentioned, mostly free, were already useful.
Pavel Karateev
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dev
Really nice book about general problems every developer faces during his professional path. There are no revelations, everythong is pretty well known, but nevertheless I found the book to be a well prepared collection of great ideas under one cover that anyone can benefit.
Gjermund Bjaanes
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book that every developer should have if they are serious about their life and career.
Adrian Van
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming
Nice advices for all around approach of programming life, not just coding.
Aug 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Read like a commercial throughout without any substantial content, consistently felt like a sales pitch.
Erkan Erol
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I embrace a holistic approach to software development. This means that I think that if you want to be a better software developer—a better anything, really—you need to focus on the entire person, not just one or two areas of your life.
The service you provide is to create software.
Every step you take without a clear direction is a wasted step. Don’t randomly walk through life without a purpose for your career.
It seems pretty obvious, yet so few software developers ever define goals for t
AnnARegina Enyedi
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a life manual, truly! And definitely not just for software developers, but for art historians as well! ;) My software developer boyfriend recommended it to me and I'm really grateful for that. I want to read it again!

This was maybe the first book in which I sympathized with all the ideas during the whole book, and fell in love with the author's mentality and worldview, spirit and enthusiasm. The author uses an excellent language, has a cool, youngish style - it's very human, very easy to u
Jacques Bezuidenhout
So even though I'm giving this a lower rating, I did find a lot of the information useful. And I do think a lot of people (even non-software developers) will benefit from some of the contained information.

That being said, there is a lot that was said that I don't agree with. This might be due to personal experience, where I believe the contained information might make people think that it is the only way to succeed. Where in actual fact, it acts as smoke and mirrors in my experience to hide lack
Sun Protostellar
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
This book contains some solid advice for early-career developers (e.g. take on more responsibility, don't get religious with the technologies to which you are accustomed).

Many chapters focused on the author's own personal view and success stories (in real estate investing, the author's course offering). There are quite many chapters on working as a freelancer, building personal brand, advertising services on social networks, etc, which may or may not be relevant to the readers.

The later part on
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
"Soft Skills" is misleading; the second part of the title describes the book a bit better (although I'd still argue that the book's ideas are too generalized for it to be called "software developer's", and its content too broad and superficial for it to be a "manual").
Overall, I appreciated the author's message, if not the delivery: most of the book was too verbose for my liking, and on several occasions it was hard not to roll my eyes at the repetition and unnecessary blabbering.
While narrati
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