abstract machines all the way down

Programming is not about writing code. Syntax changes over time but the fundamental nature of programming remains the same. The true nature of programming is taking abstract machines and putting them together to perform a task. Programming at the end of the day is about those abstract machines and their connections. This is why type theory and category theory should be essential components of any programmer’s education. Once you start viewing programming through those lenses it is impossible to go back to the syntax oriented view of programming. Here are some books and various other resources I have found useful during my education: Understanding Computation: From Simple Machines to Impossible Programs, An Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning, Types and Programming Languages, Nathan’s University, Functional Programming Principles in Scala, Applied Cryptography, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics, r/programming.

how to be a better programmer

If you want to become a better programmer then stop thinking in code. Programming is ultimately about solving problems with a predetermined set of abstractions. How these abstractions are expressed syntactically is irrelevant. So you should be practicing how to glue abstractions together instead of chasing the latest idioms and design patterns and incorporating them into your latest framework. This is why lisp programmers, and functional programmers in general, are better programmers. Functional languages force you to practice thinking with abstractions instead of low-level details and so over time functional programmers become better problem solvers because every time they sit down to program they are practicing better mental habits.