This came out of a conversation I had today with a few other test leads.  the question was, “What are the top 5 books you should read if you want my job?”  My job in this case being that of a test development lead.  At Microsoft that means I lead a team (or teams) of people whose job it is to write software which automatically tests the product. 

  • Behind Closed Doors by Johanna Rothman – One of the best books on practical management that I’ve run across.  1:1’s, managing by walking around, etc.
  • The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike– Similar to Code Complete but a lot more succinct.  How to be a good developer.  Even if you don’t develop, you have to help your team do so.
  • Design Patterns by Gamma et al – Understand how to construct well factored software.
  • How to Break Software by James Whittaker – The best practical guide to software testing.  No egg headed notions here.  Only ideas that work.  I’ve heard that How We Test Software at Microsoft is a good alternative but I haven’t read it yet.
  • Smart, and Gets Things Done by Joel Spolsky – How great developers think and how to recruit them.  Get and retain a great team.


This is not an exhaustive list.  There is a lot more to learn than what is represented in these books, but these will touch on the essentials.  If you have additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments.