Book / Literature Recommendations

Hi All,

What is the single best book you have read on networking? That's a
wide topic so to clarify I'm talking about service provider networking
but I do enjoy all aspects really and don't want to limit my self to
one area of networking.

I'm often reading technical books about technology X or protocol Y but
they are generally explaining a new technology to me, how it works and
how to use it (and how to configure it if its a book by a vendor like
Juniper or Cisco). That is usually a learning exercise though required
for an upcoming project or deliverable.

I haven't read many vendor neutral books recently that explained
concepts, or technologies, or paradigms that I found profound, radical
and extremely useful.

I feel like I'm just reading networking books these days to learn a
new technology for a period of time (until a project completes) then
moving on to the next technology (book). Longevity of the information
doesn't seem as profound as it used to; BGP design principals will
stay with me for decades until we reach the need for BGP v5 or
similar, learning about 8b/10b encoding was interesting but not really
required for my line of work more out of hobbyist interest and serves
no practical purpose as a network engineer.


i found mpls enabled applications better, not sure if that meets your


Impossible to answer with just one, really.

Apart from the classics like Stevens and Perlman and Halabi and McPherson and Doyle, these two:



"Patterns in Network Architecture"

You might not agree with it, but it does stimulate some thinking.

Matthew Kaufman

BGP Bible:
Internet Routing Architectures (2nd Edition)

Everything Stevens wrote. Including newer editions since his passing. Bill kept him listed as first author on the new edition of APUE for a reason.

Elements of Networking Style, Michael A. Padlipsky, 1984. How could anyone
*not* love a book which includes this in the foreword:

  Brace yourselves. We are about to try something that borders
  on the unique: an actually rather serious technical book which
  is not only (gasp) vehemently anti-Solemn but also (shudder)
  takes sides. I tend to think of it as "Constructive Snottiness".


p.s. And anything/everything Stevens wrote.

³Designing Campus Networks² From Cisco.
³Internet Routing Architectures²
³Next Generation Network Services² from Cisco Press

To me those are pretty general and how to apply it to different scenarios.


Hi Matthew,

I would agree that any attempt to understand the material stimulates
thinking. The book ranges from "inscrutable" to "extremely poorly

Bill Herrin

Even volume 3?

TCP/IP Illustrated volume 1 is one of the finest books on IPv4 ever
written but volume 3 smells of "Please write us another book. We don't
care what it's about, just write something."

Bill Herrin

I recommend reading the NANOG meeting materials archive presos and videos.

Good to see what people are actually doing, real lessons learned.


I couldn't narrow it down to one, but since it hasn't been mentioned
already, Radia Perlman's Interconnections. Her's is utterly fantastic
largely in part because she often explains why some things are the way
they are (how we got what we have) and sometimes why what we have isn't
always so great. Other great books mentioned take a similar tack, they
go beyond what is in written specs.


³Designing Campus Networks² From Cisco.
³Internet Routing Architectures²
³Next Generation Network Services² from Cisco Press

I hate to suggest my own book, but -- The Art of Network Architecture, I
think, is pretty good. I know Doyle's Routing TCP/IP is good, I really
appreciate Radia's Interconnections, and I found Day's book useful in
thinking through models (even if it's not the best written -- but I’m pretty
tolerant on that front). And no, you won't hurt my feelings if you disagree.



John Kristoff wrote:

+1 for Perlman's Interconnections. I love her humor peppered throughout.