My Top 5 Network Engineering Books

With so many networking books out there, someone coming into networking could find themselves asking: are any of them any good??!

This blog post, in opposition of the title, are not the 5 best. Who am I to say they are the best?! I’ve been studying pretty good for the last two years now. Just the other night I realized when someone asked if a book was good or not that I’ve read quite a few pages over that time frame. Having read quite a bit I’m going to spend a bit of time highlighting what I feel are the best of the best, the must reads. These are all books that I’ve really enjoyed and content I’ve connected with since I started my journey.

Book #1

Junos Enterprise Switching and Junos Enterprise Routing

My absolute favorite book(s) on networking covers Junos. Both books are older than 10 years or so but filled with everything you’d need to understand the fundamentals of switching and routing. The books are Junos Enterprise Switching and Junos Enterprise Routing. The number one reason why these are great books is that they allowed their personality and humor to spill out. Every other paragraph has some bit of hidden humor morsels.

These books are even highly recommended from Juniper’s best Yasmin Lara and Art of Network Engineering’s own Carl. So even though these books are a bit older, their wit really shines and makes getting through all the nitty-gritty all that much more enjoyable. If you are just getting started in networking you can’t go wrong knocking these two books out first.

Book #2

Anything by Dinesh Dutt

From earliest to latest, Mr. Dutt’s books include BGP in the Data Center, EVPN in the Data Center and Cloud Native Data Center Networking.

Even if you don’t really know BGP yet or basic Data Center concepts, do not fret. These books are still for you. Why? Because Mr. Dutt does such a great job at breaking down each technology to a simple digestible nugget before building a beautiful tapestry that ties everything together.

Book #3

Cisco Software-Defined Access – Cisco Press

This book was just a joy. It might have had a lot to do with my studying at the time. I was in multiple ENCOR study groups and I’d committed to trying to lead the SD-Access section and this book laid out everything so that I could have a somewhat successful presentation. This book broke down how everything was automated to what was going on underneath the hood of the automation. Harnessing the internet, I watched Roddie Hasan’s Cisco Live presentations (which is an amazing free resource) and followed him on the twitter (you should do the same, super cool dude). If you were only to read one chapter, read chapter 6.

Furthermore, I had won a book giveaway by another author of the SD-Access book Jason Gooley and he sent me a few Cisco Press books so I just have a lot of good vibes from this book and the connections I’ve made from it.

Book #4

The ASCII Construct

The ASCII Construct is not a book, though it should be. The author of this blog writes in such a way that that it inspired me to try and write something. He explains things in pain staking detail not normally outlined or covered. So the tidbits you get on these posts are not found in many other places on the internet. Furthermore, the author, Aninda Chatterjee, is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. He has given his time over and over again on questions about anything. A teacher of the highest quality.

Book #5

Network Programmability with YANG: The Structure of Network Automation with YANG, NETCONF, RESTCONF, and gNMI, First Edition

The last book I’d like to highlight is Network Programmability with YANG by Joe Clarke, Jan Lindblad and Benoit Claise. Everyone’s talking about network automation and I think this is the book that really breaks down a lot of the underpinnings in ways other books simply don’t match. This book is just well put together. Great, simple explanations with subsequent code examples with each chapter ending with a cool question answer with a different ‘expert’ related to what’s covered. This was a another book that stood out as an example to me as something I’d like to aspire to if I ever ended up writing some long form stuff.

Honorable Mentions

After reading this you may be wondering to yourself, I’m studying for xxx Cisco exam or what not, and not one OCG was mentioned. Truth be told, I’ve read quite a few OCGs and simply put, I just don’t like them. I don’t like being distracted by ‘do I know this already’ and ‘key terms’ and other certification type related sections. I prefer books that just discuss the technology. If I did have to choose my favorite author of these sorts of book I’d go with Kevin Wallace. My guy spent less than a year at Walt Disney according to his LinkedIn but I feel like I’ve heard 20+ stories about it going through his training, which I enjoyed.

Other books you should check out that I didn’t explicitly outline in the top 5 are: Automating Junos Administration, Computer Networking Problems and Solutions, Network Programmability and Automation, Routing TCP/IP, Volume 1 and Routing TCP/IP, Volume II.

Bonus

Since I mentioned one blog, and we are talking about learning content, I want to highlight some video content creators out there.

Video Creator #1

Calvin Remsburg

One such creator is Calvin Remsburg. He’s been streaming on Twitch (which I can’t find a link to at this time) and Youtube a bit over the past couple of years. His posts are long and if you get in on the live stream, interactive. He shares his point of view on all sorts of networking and automation concepts as he walks through a technology. Always felt he should have many more subs than he does.

Video Creator #2

Matt Oswalt

This was a short series and only covered one topic, git. Matt Oswalt ran a little series called Labs & Latte where he begins each episode with some cool piano notes and some latte art. If you follow my twitter feed you know I’m into coffee. In any case, the content here is just great. I hope Matt picks this back up in this sort of format. I understand you can find Matt on other channels with a white doctors coat on explaining network automation but I really like this format and presentation.

Video Creator #3

Network Collective

I got into watching their Wednesday night live streams when I was in Arkansas for work a few months ago. They do a cool trivia segment segment and plenty of demos with industry pros. Their production quality of this live stream is very good. At some point, once I climb all the way out of debt, I hope to become a paid subscriber. They have so much content out that once you get a bit hooked you’ll have a mini mountain of content to binge through. Since I’ve been back home on the west coast it’s been really hard to get home and tuned in to the live stream so I’m going to have to make this more of a priority 🙂

Final Bonus

Ivan Pepelnjak

Subscribe to this gentleman’s content. You could be watching an old network field day and hear this voice that’s just firing off question after question. Turning every complex technology into a simple analogy of another technology. I was introduced to Ivan in a Youtube video interview with David Bombal. I’ve since watched all the content I could get my hands on at ipspace.net and listened to all the episodes of his podcast Software Gone Wild. I heard recently he may be taking a step back a bit from content creation but will still be blogging. Whatever the case, make sure to check out his content.

Final Final Bonus

I have a long commute. So I listen to a lot of content as well. Here is a short list of my favorite networking related podcasts: The Hedge, The Art of Network Engineering, Full Stack Journey, Network Collective, Darknet Diaries, Software Gone Wild and History of Networking.

All for now, let me know what books or anything else I’ve missed and need to check out!

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