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Top 10 App Development Books to Read

6 min read

Whether you’re an aspiring mobile app developer or a senior seen-it-all expert, there’s always a need and thirst for more knowledge. And while we have such a diverse range of resources available, from Youtube tutorials to witty bloggers, there ain’t nothing so classy as a great and engaging book. Be it a digital version on Kindle or a good old paperback copy.

For you, we’ve prepared a list of best books that app devs should read. It might be surprising but not all of them are about building the app. To become a master of your field you must broaden your horizons and explore the whole life cycle of the mobile application, from idea to the user’s experience. So here you are – our top ten most useful and helpful books for your self-development. Get inspired and let’s crack some books!

  1. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
    Peter Seibel

This isn’t a book about programming, but a fabulous collection of interviews with 15 different programmers, conducted by a programmer. Yeah, it’s time to get motivated by pros, like the inventors of JavaScript and UNIX, several authors of programming languages, and more, sharing their deep love for the “craft” of coding.

  • The author focuses on the day-to-day work of programming while also diving into other questions: how they became great devs and what kinds of obstacles they find most interesting.
  • Again, it’s not a technical book but rather a collection of opinions that will broaden your perspective towards code and people who write it.
  • Although most of the content is not specific to mobile apps, you’ll find the insights within to be broadly applicable to your experiences. 
  • The structure is especially convenient to split it up into manageable chunks and read it on short breaks.
  1. Reactive Programming with RxJava
    Tomasz Nurkiewicz

In this app-driven era, reactive programming can help you write code that’s more reliable, better-performing, and easier to scale. This book suggests practical advice for Java devs on viewing problems in a reactive way and then building programs without descending into “callback hell”.

  • The book includes detailed examples that use the RxJava library to solve real-world performance issues on Android devices as well as the server.
  • The authors are clearly skilled and talented engineers who have invested a great deal of time and energy in putting together a complete account of RX as implemented in Java. 
  • The topics cover everything one needs to know to create real applications including error handling, debugging, testing and monitoring, and the mysteries of creating observables both new and from legacy APIs. 
  • This will provide some extra knowledge in other frameworks that you’ll be able to replicate and use in your existing projects. It’s well written, not complicated, and provides clear examples.
  1. The Design of Everyday Thing
    Donald A. Norman

What does it have to do with programming? Well, if you want to create apps that are human-centered, then you have to reflect on how design and user experience work. So we’ve decided to take a wider perspective on this list and include a guidebook covering mobile UX topics. This book is a great choice to read on why some products satisfy users while others frustrate them.

  • Cognitive scientist Donald A. Norman is an expert in user-centered design who has also been a VP at Apple and the faculty at Harvard. Impressive enough?
  • This book focuses on the idea that design should not complicate and usability is just as important as aesthetics. 
  • While some of the examples might be dated, they still play their part in explaining the idea – a lot of things that we assign to human error are actually caused by poor design. While the goal, the author suggests, is to guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time. 
  • It’s not a how-to manual for experienced designers, but more of an introduction to everyone willing to understand more about design in general. So it’s great for devs and people who create things that others use. 
  1. Java Cookbook: Problems and Solutions for Java Developers
    Ian F. Darwin

Now, these two go side by side: ever-evolving Java and this cookbook. Whether you’re only starting with Java or you’re already an experienced Java programmer looking for new problem-solving approaches, this book can help you get the most of your Java knowledge.

  • This cookbook covers useful techniques and practical solutions to everyday problems, supported by a detailed explanation.
  • Packed with hundreds of Java recipes covering issues like string handling, object-oriented and functional programming techniques, or network communication. Each recipe includes self-contained code solutions together with a discussion of how they work.
  • This revised edition covers changes through Java 12 and parts of 13 and 14. 
  1. How to Build a Billion Dollar App
    George Berkowski

Despite the clickbait title, this book seriously takes on the challenge of how to make it in the entrepreneurial app journey. And does it well.  It’s a guide about the business side of building applications both for devs and anyone looking to enter the mobile app space. 

  • The book includes some real-world examples & interviews of app developers and billionaires in the app market.
  • The author provides the key steps required to achieve one’s vision of building a valuable and truly scalable mobile product.
  • It goes beyond shallow bragging and self-indulgence but deepens into key points with very pragmatic charts, quotes, and resources.
  • The book also gives some insights into building SaaS businesses.
  1. Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide
    Bill Phillips, Brian Hardy

This is another great book written by Big Nerd Ranch who has been giving intensive boot camps for developers. The book takes the help of images and examples to explain every topic, so it’s extremely helpful if you’re new to Android development. Forget the Youtube tutorials, this is the book for you. 

  • It doesn’t require any previous Android development experience, just a bit of Java knowledge, in order to focus on Android elements.
  • Both content and language are practical and straight to the point. While many programming books are simply too dry to read, this one is a truly enjoyable cover-to-cover read. 
  • Real applications are developed. The authors introduce new material through real-world examples that the reader follows along to.
  • Go to the Big Nerd Ranch website and find a forum for readers to exchange hints and tips on the best way of doing something, etc.
  1. Hands-On Mobile App Testing: A Guide for Mobile Testers and Anyone Involved in the Mobile App Business
    Daniel Knott

In this ever-evolving world, any product that wants to stay in the industry must meet the highest standards of reliability, security, usability, and performance. And this means only one thing:  testing, testing, testing. But even for experienced testers, the constantly changing mobile platform might cause great challenges from time to time. Well, this book is a good choice to enhance your knowledge of testing experience.

  • This book is a highly practical manual based on real-life examples and experiences, suitable for thoroughly testing any iOS or Android mobile app.
  • It covers the whole spectrum of the mobile app testing cycle, e.g. planning, various philosophies of testing, UX/Usability, load time, continuous delivery automation, also mobile-centric hardware and software issues, testing devices, strategies, and more.
  • The author shares his experience and knowledge with sharp German clearness and simplicity.
  1. There’s Not an App for That: Mobile User Experience Design for Life
    Simon Robinson, Gary Marsden, Matt Jones

Another great read on mobile user experience design that is fueled with some provoking psychology and design philosophy. This isn’t a practical manual on building the app. Yet, this engaging and interesting book inspires us to look for outside-the-box solutions that will encourage users to keep returning to our apps.

  • It’s divided into sections, each with a different topic, making the book easily digestible in small chunks.
  • Chapters include a wide range of topics, as such: thinking about alternatives to clean design; looking at the dividing line between personal devices and public interaction; how to encourage more mindfulness in interaction and connection between people, and more.
  • There’re plenty of clues to other resources to expand on the themes in the book, from videos and web pages to research papers.
  • Most reader reviews claim that it’s extremely enjoyable and fun to read. 
  1. Kotlin Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide
    Josh Skeen, David Greenhalgh

The Kotlin programming language is a cross-platform, statically typed programming language designed to interoperate with Java. Since Google declared its support for Kotlin within the Android Studio, the language has quickly become a sensation and many Android programmers have made a switch.

  • The book introduces the Kotlin programming language by providing rather clear explanations of key concepts and foundational APIs.
  • It’s a beginner-friendly manual written for aspiring Android developers, especially helpful for understanding extension functions.
  • Full of exercises and references. Although, some of them are a bit too hazy and not crucial for learning. Still, the book is rated as one of the best Kotlin books so far. 
  1. Native Mobile Development A Cross-Reference for iOS and Android
    Shaun Lewis, Mike Dunn

Juggling with different platforms might be complicated and requires even more experience. If your team regularly works with both iOS and Android, or plan on switching to a different one, then this book is quite a catch. 

  • This guidebook covers common file and database operations, network communication with remote APIs, application lifecycle, threading, and asynchronous work, then configuring, building, and running an app on a device.
  • The code examples are remarkably helpful.
  • This a great resource to take what you already know on one platform and start to learn how to develop apps on another without needing to use a more generic framework like React Native.
  • The second part focuses on creating a bare-bones app in each platform, using the techniques from part one.