Non Obvious Books for Software Testers

There are not many good books about software testing compared to other areas of software development (programming, management or design). But the knowledge that can be applied to testing can be learned from other sources.

I have collected a list of non-technical (almost) books which can be recommended for QA engineers.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Buy: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

What is quality? It could be a fundamental question for any quality assurance engineer. Author tries to find the answer to this question through the interweaving of various philosophical concepts (metaphysics of quality), but the story itself is not overloaded with abstruse philosophical reflections.

After that book you will look at the «quality» of your software product from an absolutely different angle and you will never say in an interview that «testing brings better quality to the software product», because it is so complicated that it is better not to dive into these themes unnecessarily.

Further reading:

The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

Buy: The Timeless Way of Building

What makes a building a quality one? What is quality in the context of architecture? Remarkable research which can be transformed from the real world into the software industry. Actually, that is exactly what happened with another Alexander’s book, «A Pattern Language», which became a prototype of software design patterns.

Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek

Buy: Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change

While specialized books talk about web design and user interfaces, this one reveals the fundamental basics of experiences between human and man-made objects (and software is no exception). This book is especially valuable for everyone who deals with accessibility.

Further reading:

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Buy: The Design of Everyday Things

It is useful to know how the things around us are made. The intentions of creating ordinary objects could lead to thoughts on testing unusual ones.

Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov

Buy: Foundation

It is the greatest science fiction book series of all time. There are a lot of complex philosophical ideas passing through the series, but regarding global software product development — major breakthroughs require serious shocks (switching methodologies or frameworks, changing team leaders or other members).

Be aware, the recently released TV series does not follow the original plot.

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford

Buy: The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

That is a well known book about DevOps, but actually it is an excellent novel about all difficulties of developing complicated software product in condition of a tight deadline. Testers may find inspiring ideas to improve quality assurance processes.

Further reading:

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

Buy: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

«The Phoenix Project» is not an original, it’s a rewrite of «The Goal» in another setting, which in the format of a business novel tells about the theory of constraints. Worth reading.

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker

Buy: The Toyota Way, Second Edition: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer

The roots of «The Goal» and «The Phoenix Project» are grown from the Toyota Production System. It is amazing to get acquainted with automobile manufacturing management practices and find so many «modern trends» in software which have already been used over 50 year ago (or what would be worth learning).

The South Pole by Roald Amundsen

Buy: The South Pole

For some things, planning and preparation are more important than the venture itself. So it is for some software projects — collecting requirements and designing test plans are the most crucial parts for the testing process. Here is an example of what real preparation means.

Further reading:

The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford

Buy: The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole

It is an exploration of the expeditions of Captain Robert F. Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in their attempts to reach the South Pole. The book compares in detail the ways of planning, management and attitude to the goals in the context of extreme ventures.

Chasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

Buy: Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

For those of us who used to work according to agile methodologies with one or two-week sprints, it shows how multi-year projects are built (space mission to Pluto) and how much should be done in advance. There are also a few paragraphs about software testing.




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Andrey Enin

Andrey Enin

Quality assurance engineer

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