A few weeks after it was published I picked up Bulletproof Web Design, Dan Cederholm’s latest contribution to the web standards bookshelf, and indeed to the betterment of all humankind. I was going to hold out until a second pressing so I could get the elusive page 196, but I just couldn’t wait and had to get my grubby hands on it. Which is silly because, at the rate I read such books, it could be years before I finish it, if ever. A few weeks later I picked up Jeremy Keith’s DOM Scripting and poor Dan was set aside for the newcomer.
I have a tendency to collect web design books, read a few chapters, then shelve them unfinished, often with the original receipt of purchase still bookmarked forlornly between pages 82 and 83 where I left off.
But web books aren’t really intended for cover-to-cover reading. Most are organized and designed for random access, for browsing and skipping in search of specific nuggets. That’s why they have tables of contents and indices. Many even tell you at the start “If you’re already knowledgable in whatever bit of deep geekery we’re about to delve into, skip ahead.” The best ones include chapter summaries and those handy little marks on the edge of the page to facilitate chapter-flipping (thanks, Friends of ED). I do often skip around, reading chapters of interest and passing over others. They’re textbooks, not novels, so I feel no guilt at all about not finishing them. That is, until I meet the authors.
Now the SXSW buzz is building steadily, and I shall be attending with plans of rubbing elbows with some of the standardista luminaries I had the honor of meeting last year. Many of these people whom I respect and admire so much have written excellent books that grace my shelf. But I must confess that I haven’t actually completed a single one of them. At the risk of offending some of my idols, these are a few seminal web design/development books I own but haven’t yet finished. (Disclaimer: Amazon links include my associates ID, so I earn kickbacks on items purchased. Buy them all. Hell, buy two of each!)
- The Zen of CSS Design, by Dave Shea and Molly E. Holzschlag – Purchased 3/05, have read several scattered chapters covering a few of my favorite entries.
- Eric Meyer on CSS, by Eric Meyer – Purchased 7/03, bookmarked at pg. 67.
- Web Standards Solutions, by Dan Cederholm – Purchased 7/04, bookmarked at pg. 91.
- Bulletproof Web Design, by Dan Cederholm – Purchased 8/05, bookmarked at pg. 87.
- Building Accessible Websites, by Joe Clark – Purchased 1/05, bookmarked at pg. 212.
- Defensive Design for the Web, by 37signals – Purchased 5/04, bookmarked at pg. 204 (it’s a short book, so that’s actually nearly finished).
- Designing With Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman – Purchased 5/03, the first techie book I ever read cover-to-cover. Well… almost. I’ve never actually finished the last chapter. As enlightening as this book is, the conclusion is anti-climactic. Bookmarked at pg. 406.
- DOM Scripting, by Jeremy Keith – Purchased 10/05, currently reading (bookmarked at pg. 120 as of this posting).
These volumes are all great resources, well worth the cover price, and are valuable additions to any growing design library. I’ve read enough of each that I can still confidently recommend all of them. Some day I may even finish reading them myself.