Prose by any other name

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The Passionate Programmer »

“I’ve never read P.G. Wodehouse,” Michael Feathers tweeted today, “but I’m putting it off because you can only read something for the first time once.”

I just finished reading a book that I’ve been saving for a while. Unfortunately, I can’t give you the name of this book—but more on that in a minute.

The book is the second edition of Chad Fowler’s book about taking control of your career and your life. In this time of layoffs and downsizing this quote from Chad’s preface reached out and smacked me in the face:

“This book isn’t about struggling to maintain the level of mediocrity required not to get fired. It’s about being awesome. It’s about winning. You don’t win a race by trying not to lose. And you don’t win at life by trying to not suck. Fortunately, the content of the book has never been about trying not to suck. I can’t think that way, and neither should you.”

Chad writes engaging prose that had taken me years to pick up and now I couldn’t put it down. I kept reading until I got to the end. And when I did I started emailing and calling and talking to people about this book.

They all looked at me like I was an idiot.

They thought I already knew about this book. It’s one of their favorite books. They recommend it to their friends as essential. The want to know why I hadn’t read it before.

I don’t know. Maybe it was the cover. It could have been the title. I’d thought the book was about something else completely. Dave and Andy had raved about it and sent me a copy. I’d meant to read it. I’ve even met Chad and interviewed him for our podcast and watched him teach. I’ve been impressed by the man but I still didn’t read his book.

And that’s my quandry.

I want you to read this book. Of course, since I’m publishing the second edition of this book as a Pragmatic Life title, I’d love you to buy this book. But that’s not enough. I don’t want you to leave the book sealed by your bedside or on your stairs or in the stack next to your desk or even in the bathroom where you do your serious reading. I want you to open the book and fall into it and let Chad help change the way you look at how you spend your days. Books like this one are why I’m so excited about the Life series.

So what’s the name of the book?

We don’t know. The title of the first edition kept people like me from reading it. It meant that every time the book was reviewed—and it got some great reviews—the discussion soon turned to offshoring and other issues that had nothing to do with the book.

We thought we had a pretty good name for the second edition of the book but someone else had published a book with that title about two years ago. Help us think of another name for the book. Email me at life at prag prog dot com with your suggestion for the title. It’s not a contest. We’re not committed to picking one of the ones you send in. We just need help naming this book.

I’ve read old “what’s its name” for the first time, but like the original “Pragmatic Programmer” book, this is not a book that I’ll only read once.

Looking forward to your suggestions,


This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.