Network Administration & Security

Eleven Books Every Network Engineer Should Own

Eleven Books Every Network Engineer Should Own
These books for network engineers contain a wealth of vital information that will help both novices and experts navigate through all sorts of challenges at work—and are a good read, to boot. Image from Pexels
Lucy Davies profile
Lucy Davies September 16, 2021

Ever wonder which essential books professional network engineers rely on and keep hand for quick reference? We’ve got a list of some of the best ones.

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In a way, it’s a funny question to ask for a list of the best books every network engineer should own, in light of how computer technology is continually evolving. But even in the world of tech there are favorite tomes, and you’ll be glad to have this stack of 11 titles on your bedside table. These books for network engineers contain a wealth of vital information that will help both novices and experts navigate through all sorts of challenges at work—and are a good read, to boot.

Below is a list of keepers, written by tech veterans and recommended by other professionals in the field, as well as those who teach the trade. Peruse this list and then tuck into some terrific books about routing protocols, network design, network management, data centers, firewalls, VoIP, ccnp, bgp, algorithms, and much more.

Eleven books every network engineer should own

  • Network Warrior by Gary A. Donahue
  • TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols by Richard Stevens
  • Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols by Radia Perlman
  • Internetworking with TCP/IP by Douglas E. Comer
  • Computer Networking Problems and Solutions by Russ White
  • The Illustrated Network: How TCP/IP Works in a Modern Network by Walter Goralski
  • Internet Routing Architectures by Sam Halabi
  • Routing TCP/IP, VOLUME II* by Jeff Doyle
  • MPLS and VPN Architectures, Volume II by Ivan Pepelnjak, Jim Guichard, and Jeff Apcar
  • Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach (7th Ed) by James Kurose and Keith Ross
  • Network Programmability and Automation by Jason Edelman

Network Warrior by Gary A. Donahue__

Network Warrior is a Cisco-based book focusing on Ethernet networks and the TCP/IP protocol. But Donahue also walks you through troubleshooting, a bit of history on the evolution of Ethernet, and even strategies to sell ideas and solutions to management. This book is described as useful, practical, and highly readable. As a reviewer on Goodreads noted, “What you need to learn to pass a Cisco certification exam such as CCNA and what you need to know to survive in the real world are two very different things. The strategies that this book offers weren’t on the exam, but they’re exactly what you need to do your job well.”

TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols by Richard Stevens

Richard Stevens’ TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1 is a thorough and complete study, starting from the ground up, that doesn’t skimp on detail. Stevens includes references at the end of every chapter, and covers the TCP/IP protocol suite without omitting anything. With a foundation in history, a strongly visual approach, and a ton of research, Stevens has created a useful, lasting, and accessible resource that you’ll be pulling off your bookshelf frequently.

Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols by Radia Perlman

This book was originally published in 1999 and might make you think it’s thoroughly outdated and buried deep under new and more modern work. But as a pioneer in the industry, Radia Perlman and her foundational text remain very much relevant today. Now in its second edition, this book has been updated to include advances in technology and the latest on IPV6, VLANs, Fast Ethernet, ATM, and DHCP, as well as new topics like IPX and DECnet. A networking book classic, this new edition has an extensive glossary to help define any terms not outlined along the way.

Internetworking with TCP/IP by Douglas E. Comer__

This is a book you may have seen in your graduate-level studies on data and computer networks, internetworking and networking protocols. Comer, who is former VP of Research at Cisco, focuses on the fundamentals and principles of TCP/IP protocols and internetworking with examples and details from current technologies. Topics include internet protocols such as TCP, IPv4, IPv6, DHCP, and DNS, and Comer discusses new trends in internet systems like packet classification, and Software Defined Networking (SDN).

Computer Networking Problems and Solutions by Russ White

This book takes the analytical approach of examining the reasons why modern computer networks are designed the way they are, in order to address problems in protocol and networks that engineers face. It’s helpful for students and experienced professionals alike, as this problem-solving text takes a solution-based approach to design problems all networking technologies face, in past and current iterations. Topics include a look at virtualization in networks and services, design patterns, cloud computing, control plane policies and centralization, redundancy and resiliency, and next generation trends and technologies.

The Illustrated Network: How TCP/IP Works in a Modern Network by Walter Goralski

This book is another visual treat, complete with over 300 diagrams and screenshots offering an illustrated explanation of how TCP/IP works—presenting clear explanations of a working network configuration/topology complete with workstations, routers, and servers. Goralski has worked as Technical Lead at Juniper Networks, starting in 2000, and is the author of 15 books on networking technologies. Thoroughly updated, the text includes four new chapters that illustrate the latest developments in network technology, including VXLAN and cloud concepts, and will give the reader insight into current operating systems and routing vendors. With an emphasis on network similarities, Groalski’s work discusses layered protocols and the core functions that allow applications to run smoothly.

Internet Routing Architectures by Sam Halabi__

This book is a foundational text on Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) theory and practice, and works its way all the way from design to implementation of BGP-based internetworks on Cisco Systems routers. If you work on optimization of traffic under the BGP internetworks, or if you are studying for a Cisco networking certification exam, you will be glad to have this text at hand. The author, Sam Halabi, is a respected authority on Cisco routers, and has held various positions at Cisco Systems, Pluris and 3Com. He includes not only BGP connectivity, but focuses on design decisions and their impact on connecting networks globally, using examples and finding solutions with a real-world approach.

Routing TCP/IP, VOLUME II by Jeff Doyle__

In this book by another best-selling author on this list, this highly readable guide covers switching and routing techniques that are the foundation of all Cisco CCIE tracks, but also includes concepts that are fundamental to all modern routing and network platforms. It serves as a practical reference for troubleshooting and avoiding policy errors that can potentially damage network performance for network engineers, designers, and administrators alike. This second edition builds on Doyle’s first comprehensive text to help readers understand modern routing protocols, through case-studies, exercises and real-world examples.

MPLS and VPN Architectures, Volume II by Ivan Pepelnjak, Jim Guichard, and Jeff Apcar__

This second edition from Cisco Press is a deeper dive into the tools needed to design, implement and maintain a secure and “highly available” VPN. Readers are given the fundamentals of the VPN backbone, including routing protocols (IS-IS, EIGRP, and OSPF) and their connectivity with service provider access technologies (dial, cable, Ethernet, and DSL). This book serves as a manual for all network engineers as they connect greater and growing numbers of employees to company networks from their offices at home.

Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach (7th Ed) by James Kurose and Keith Ross__

This foundational text takes a unique approach to outlining computer networking in a top-down manner, working from the application layer down to the physical layer. It makes a good, early read and provides an approachable study of computer science and network engineering, and stays visually interesting and even humorous in its creative approach to a complicated subject.

Network Programmability and Automation by Jason Edelman

Manual work for engineers is no longer possible, and with new protocols and technology moving the world at a faster pace, network automation is becoming essential. This book serves as a guide in transitioning to new tools like Python, JSON, XML, and Linux that use code to automate complicated network systems. The text covers topics like the role that application programming interfaces (APIs) play in network automation, data types, conditionals, loops, classes, modules, and functions. With businesses pushing for flexibility, network security and agility, network engineers will rely more and more on automation to get the job done.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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