Last couple of months I have been trying to educate myself on some topics that I knew I needed to work on. One of them was Oracle, some of the others include web design and SEO techniques. Today with high-speed internet connections and with the power of Google there's a lot of information that's available. There's a lot of books out there on these topics, with many more coming out each year. So, how do you find the right book? This is something to be concerned about, as the number of books is huge and it makes selecting the right one a rather complicated process. Something I tend to do is to go to a book store and browse books. I want to see what it's all about, which topics does the author cover. I am also curious to see if I agree with some of the coding styles and other terminology that the author is presenting. A new item on my check list is to see who the author is. Some of the more popular and well known names in the community have written a number of books and I tend to select those books, because I can be sure that the well respected members and leaders of the community will preach the right things. There's a lot of books out there that recommend doing things a specific way that I don't agree with. Some authors tend to show rather simple examples when explaining topics and skip the details or present pieces of code that you should not see in production applications. One example was a piece of code that a co-worker showed to me and I was like: "Why would somebody code like this?" His response was that he got the code as a companion to a book he is reading. One thing to keep in mind is that authors are human and are limited by their level of knowledge of the subject and their experience.
So, don't judge the book by it's cover, judge it by the author and the content within. A pretty book on a shelve will not be as good as a used book that you've read many times and went back to use as a reference.