This is a running list of books that I think are valuable for any engineer to have on hand as a reference or read (depending on the book) to understand the world a little bit better and make more effective decisions.
I think Shane Parrish gives a great summary of the best way to read on his blog. Actively reading to learn and change behavior requires that you have the information available at a (usually unknown) future time. Finding the best way to do that for you is a critical part of continually improving as an engineer and a person. My method is usually to take notes by hand in the book as I’m reading, then transfer them to a Word doc in Dropbox afterwards (which provides the benefit of additional time to analyze and condense my thoughts).
- Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers Marks
- Design of Weldments Blodgett
- Machinery’s Handbook Oberg
- Precision Machine Design Slocum (Related, Principles of Rapid Machine Design Bamberg — if you design machines, understanding this process is invaluable [and it’s a simple process, which is not the same as being technically simple].)
- The Art of Electronics Horowitz and Hill
Quality, Statistics, Lean and Six Sigma
- Juran’s Quality Manual Juran & Godfrey/Defeo (depending on edition)
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things Horowitz — This is here instead of in Entrepreneurship because I think it’s a cautionary tale for employees rather than a guideline for how to build a business. Ultimately it’s upt o you to interpret.
- The Goal Goldratt — This should be required reading for all college seniors in engineering.
- What Color Is Your Parachute Bolles
- Measure what Matters Doerr
- Floodpath Wilkman
- The Myths of Innovation Berkun
Tangential to Engineering (primarily systems and failure analysis with non-quantifiable drivers — e.g. social interactions, the general variability of humans)
- The Logic of Failure by Dorner (and if you want to make it painful you can read Dekker’s The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error).
- Malcom Gladwell’s books (his podcast is also great).
- Everything written by Henry Petrowski. To Engineer is Human is a good place to start.
- Fooled by Randomness Taleb
- Florman’s books on engineering (particularly The Existential Pleasures of Engineering).
- How to Become a Professional Gun Nerd McCollum (a great anecdotal explanation for why working on things we love and doing important work often seem very different).
- Lean Startup Ries
- Solitude and Leadership Deresiewicz
- Strong Opinions Loosely Held Might be the Worst Idea in Tech Natkin
- of place here, I think