Book review of “Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual” by John Sonmez (in English)

Summertime, on holiday, by the pool with a good book. For me that’s the bee’s knees. What book to read first is always a bit exciting? This time I had chosen to read this book by John Sonmez

I have listened to john several times on his podcasts and I have always found he usually says sensible things. And in anticipation of this review, he does the same in this book too.

This book starts with the question why this book is different from all other books.

The answer is that this book isn’t about design patterns or writing better code. It is also not about unit tests, TDD or SOLID.

No, this book is about how you can better manage your career, how to design your life, how to take control of your finances, how to keep your body in shape, how to eat well and much more.

The book consists of 71 chapters and a few appendices, divided into 7 sections.

The 1st section is about career and work
Do you think enough about these topics?
About your CV, interviews and intakes, work, working from home, professionalism?
Whether you stay in full-time employment or if you become a freelancer, whether you go on to make your own software product.

The author encourages you to do so!

A few quotations from this section: “Make sure you are a problem solver” and “Don’t be too religious about technology.

The 2nd section is about marketing yourself.
This is not only important for freelancers but also for those in paid employment: you should see yourself as a business that is hiring itself out to a client that happens to be hiring itself to one client.

The difference between a small-, large- and medium-sized business and a start-up is clearly described here.

The 3rd section is about life as a professional, with an emphasis on “continuous learning”
This section deals with the action plan “how to learn effectively”.

This will sound very basal but as an IT professional you often have to gain more knowledge, but have you already thought about how you can best do that or how do you find out what knowledge you are actually missing?

The 4th section is about productivity.
There have been many books written on this subject but if you have not yet read those this book will provide a good summary. If you have read those books this section is good revision.

Since greater productivity involves changing habits, reminding yourself of this material is absolutely necessary. Here not only is theory discussed but also the ways in which the author himself has implemented it in his own work and career.

Topics that appear are focus, the pomodoro technique and internal/external motivation.

The 5th section is about finances.
Not a section that provided me with much new knowledge but a useful part of the book nonetheless about what to do with your finances.

If like the author and I you work in IT and earn a good living you’ll ask yourself what to do with your earnings: do you spend or do you invest?

He also talks about the dangers of debt, investing in real estate and the theory behind shares and options.

The 6th section is about fitness.
An unexpected section but certainly interesting to read. Isn’t there the old saying “a sound mind in a sound body”?

Topics that appear are muscles (how to grow muscles), muscle development (3 types of muscle growth), burning fat, calories and health.

Here the author demonstrates that he knows how to succinctly describe the topics in such a way that you feel like you get a lot of information from each section and that the chapters never feel tedious.

This section also provides a good summary of the theories about this topic such as those of Weight Watchers or Herbalife.

The 7th and last section is about spirit and the conclusion of the book.
A less developed section but Chapter 67 (Building a positive self-image: Programming your brain) is definitely worth it.

An appropriate saying therefore: “failure isn’t a defect; it is the road to success.”

My conclusion
A pleasantly readable, useful and interesting book for people with an (office) job who want to be engaged with their work, their professionalism, their knowledge and their career.

Sometimes you get the feeling that you are knocking on open doors or that you think that everything sounds logical: sometimes however you only need that in order to set things in motion.

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