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Top 11 Coding Books for Beginners: Worth a Read

If you go to university to earn your degree in computer programming, you’re going to read a lot of books. Of course, you’d expect that a college programming course would require a great deal of studying, but if you’re an amateur trying to learn for yourself, is reading really the way to go?

It certainly can be!

We’ve compiled a list of 11 best coding books for beginners. Here’s why we think they’re great!

  • Well-organized content — you’ll be able to follow along easily and you’ll learn in a progressive manner.
  • Easy enough for beginners — these are great for newbies and you won’t feel like you got thrown into the deep end before you learn to swim.
  • They embrace hands-on learning – you’ll be able to practically implement what you learn

Ready to learn how to code? Let’s dive in!

11 Best Coding Books for Beginners

1. Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving

Author: V Anton Spraul

Latest Edition: August 2012

Buy on Amazon

Shown to help you develop your skills in every programming language, this book helps you develop the type of problem-solving skills needed to be a successful programmer. You’ll practice breaking problems down into smaller pieces and learn how to choose the perfect data structure for the most likely success.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Approach problems with a coder’s mindset
  • Select the best approach for finding solutions to problems
  • Be an innovative, creative programmer who is able to solve complex problems

2. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Author: Robert Martin

Latest Edition: 2009

Buy on Amazon

Coding success isn’t linear — in fact, you don’t have to be a good coder for a website or app to function. Bad code is every bit as common as good code, but bad code can lead to disastrous results. Clean Code gives you the tools to create code that can withstand the test of time, and help keep website crashes and bugs to a minimum.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Tell the difference between good code and bad code
  • Re-write bad code into code that functions well
  • How to test code to make sure it is built to last

3. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

Author: Jon Duckett

Latest Edition: 11 Edition

Buy on Amazon

Want to learn code, but don’t want to become a computer programmer? You are among the growing population that needs to know a bit of coding to do simple jobs at your workplace or manage your home-based business.

Instead of deep-diving into the intricacies of code, HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites will help you learn the basics so you can maintain existing systems or make small updates to personal websites.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Write code using HTML and CSS in an approachable way
  • Make your personal or work websites more attractive
  • Update websites with simple code that works

4. Coding All-In-One for Dummies

Author: Nikhil Abraham

Latest Edition: May 2017

Buy on Amazon

Books in the ‘Dummies’ series are famous for being easy to follow, and Coding All-In-One for Dummies is no exception! You don’t need to have any coding experience to learn the basics of any web language, and will help you develop a strong foundation for designing powerful websites and apps. One of the best coding books for beginners, you can’t go wrong starting with this easy read.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Create code for the web or apps
  • Read the languages that power data science
  • Solve problems that arise when writing or fixing code

5. Beginner’s Step-By-Step Coding Course: Learn Computer Programming the Easy Way

Author: DK

Latest Edition: January 2020

Buy on Amazon

If you have a learning style that requires you to take bite-sized pieces and implement them before moving on to new concepts, this step-by-step coding handbook is for you. With plenty of photos and examples to help you visualize tasks, coding will feel approachable. You’ll explore problems and then slowly work your way through the solution.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Think like a programmer by breaking problems down into smaller pieces
  • Read and write in three of the most popular languages: JavaScript, Python, and Scratch
  • Understand the basics of many other coding languages so you can feel confident approaching almost any problem you may come across

6. The Pragmatic Programmer: Your Journey To Mastery, 20th Anniversary Edition

Author: David Thomas, Andrew Hunt

Latest Edition: 20th Anniversary Edition

Buy on Amazon

One of the most prolific programming books of this century, The Pragmatic Programmer: Your Journey To Mastery, has been completely remastered to reflect the issues and needs of the modern programmer in this 20th-anniversary edition. You’ll approach topics such as personal responsibility and career development to techniques for writing code that’s flexible and easy to adapt.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Guard against vulnerable security systems
  • Write flexible code that can be easily adjusted as needed
  • Put your code through a myriad of tests to ensure strength and usability

7. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Author: Steve McConnell

Latest Edition: 2nd Edition

Buy on Amazon

This fully-illustrated guide to software development has hundreds of examples of software code to make learning more approachable. You’ll learn more than just the basics; you’ll walk away from this read with a clear understanding of the must-know principles of programming for software.

Whether you’re brand new to software development or you’ve been programming for years, this book will help grow your knowledge base and give you new skills to build exceptional quality code.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Code for creative design without complexity
  • Debug problems quickly
  • Find and remove errors quickly and resolve critical issues early

8. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Author: Steve Krug

Latest Edition: 3rd Edition

Buy on Amazon

It’s one thing to learn how to write code, but it’s a whole new ballgame when you have an understanding of why your code works (or doesn’t!). This short read is fully illustrated and the latest edition includes a fresh chapter on mobile usability. Describes as witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, this book is often described as a ‘must-read,’ even for the most advanced web and app developers.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • The principles of information design
  • How to create code intuitively
  • How code works so you can gain understanding instead of attempting to memorize processes

9. Get Coding! Learn HTML, CSS, Javascript & Build a Website, App & Game

Author: Young Rewired State

Latest Edition: August 2017

Buy on Amazon

Originally developed for kids, this easy-to-follow programming book leads the user through quests developed to teach them the basics of coding for apps and games. 

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Real-life coding skills in a fun and engaging way
  • How to create an app or build a game using code

10. Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming

Author: Eric Matthes

Latest Edition: 2nd Edition

Buy on Amazon

Over 1 million copies of this best-selling book have been sold, making it the undisputed authority on code development using the Python language. Even a beginner can pick up a copy and begin writing code almost immediately. What’s made this book so popular is that it outlines a fun way to learn Python! Skill-strengthening exercises help build your skillset while encouraging creative thought so you can develop unique and interesting games, websites, and apps.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Build your own customized app you can actually use
  • Apply knowledge in useful ways
  • Write programs in Python to build websites, video games, and applications

11. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (2nd Edition) 

Author: Martin Fowler

Latest Edition: 2nd Edition

Buy on Amazon

If you already consider yourself a decent coder, this book can take your knowledge to new heights. In the early days of coding, lines of data were written for computers to read with little consideration for human interaction with the code.

Writing code that people can read (even beginners or those with little experience) is becoming increasingly necessary, and this book can help you write code that can be easily understood by anyone who views it. Even expert coders and software developers can learn to create more user-friendly data lines with this best-selling book.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Rethink your current habits to create new methods of writing code
  • Write user-friendly code developed for people instead of computers
  • Rewrite existing code in more flexible, user-friendly ways

Are Coding Books Worth It?

It’s true that you can find a lot of free information online about how to code. If you’re stuck on a complex problem, someone on YouTube may have made a video explaining a solution. However, free guides rarely give you the depth of knowledge that the authors of these best-sellers can.

If you are a fan of step-by-step processes and struggle to stay on task, working through a coding book may be the best way for you to learn.

Any coding book you choose should:

  • Be easy to follow with a clear index
  • Have illustrations and examples throughout
  • Be designed for your personal skill level

Which Coding Language to Learn First?

While there are plenty of programming languages out there, we recommend studying one of these three first: 

  • CSS
  • JavaScript (MERN)
  • Python

While CSS and JavaScript are also incredibly popular, many users like to begin by learning Python. Often regarded as simpler to learn than other languages, getting a good handle on using Python can give you a strong foundation as you attempt to learn more complicated coding methods.

Learn to Code at Coding Dojo

At Coding Dojo, we love books and encourage you to explore resources that help you learn and grow as a programmer. But if you’re a learner who appreciates a more guided approach, perhaps a coding bootcamp or class is for you.

Our classes are designed to lead you through the process of learning a new coding language without the hassle of having to problem-solve on your own. Our instructors are leading experts that know how to help you every step of the way.

Want to learn more about Coding Dojo and how our classes could change your career and your life? Visit our FAQ page to get answers to many of your questions, or contact us today!