Joel Spolsky recommends the following books to self-taught programmers who apply to his company and need to fill in some gaps in their training.
The one that has me scratching my head is The Unix Programming Environment, first published in 1984. After listening to Joel’s podcast, I thumbed through my old copy of the book and thought “Man, I could never work like this.” Of course I could work like that, because I did, back around 1990. But the world has really changed since then.
I appreciate history and old books. I see the value in learning things you might not directly apply. But imagine telling twentysomething applicants to go read an operating system book that was written before they were born. Most would probably think you’re insane.
Update (16 November 2010): On second thought, I could see recommending that someone read The Unix Programming Environment these days even though technology has changed so much, but I’d still expect resistance.