The 13 Best Programming Books For Software Developers

Best programming books

Software development is a hot field, and it’s projected to grow 24% by 2026. Plus, the average software developer makes over $100,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to crack into software development, particularly by learning Python, you need the best resources. Here are the best programming books to build your coding skills, ace coding interviews, and succeed as a software developer.

From applications to system software, developers keep computers running. Some software developers enter the field through the more traditional route by earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science. But you don’t need a computer science degree to succeed as a developer. You do need a strong set of skills, though, and not just technical ones. You need interview skills, soft skills, and problem-solving skills in addition to your technical abilities. We chose the 13 best programming books to help you succeed as a software developer.

Best Programming Books to Learn Coding

If you want to learn to program, but you’re not sure what language to start with, check out our list of the best programming languages to learn first. We focused on Python books in this list since it’s the fastest growing programming language in the world.

The Self-Taught Programmer

The Self-Taught Programmer book cover

The Self-Taught Programmer is a roadmap for aspiring programmers. Author Cory Althoff taught himself programming in a single year and landed a job at eBay as a software engineer. Here, he shares what he learned, emphasizing technical skills but also covering the interview process and professional skills.

Python Crash Course

Python Crash Course Cover

Best for people who learn by doing, Python Crash Course offers a fast-paced, project-based introduction to the programming language. The book starts with basic concepts. Readers then put their training to the test by programming a game, a web app, and a data visualization program.

Learning Python

Learning Python cover

Now in its 5th edition, Mark Lutz’s hefty book (it’s over 1,500 pages) has gained fans over the years. Learning Python covers coding basics, both for beginners and those experienced in other languages. The book incorporates quizzes and exercises to strengthen coding skills.

Learn Python the Hard Way

Learn Python the Hard Way cover

Some people like to jump in the deep end, and Learn Python the Hard Way promises to challenge readers. Using a tutorial-based method, the book offers 52 exercises to build coding skills. It may appeal most to readers with some prior programming experience.

Python Cookbook

Python Cookbook cover

Less a teaching book and more a reference, Python Cookbook offers recipes for people with moderate or advanced Python skills. The book incorporates code samples to update Python 2 code to Python 3, along with recipes to create algorithms, design web programs, and more.

The Best Programming Books To Advance Your Skills

In addition to building programming skills, developers need to become master craftsmen. It’s the difference between being literate and being fluent. These books help programmers take their skills to the next level by training them to think like a developer and show off their skills in a technical interview.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean Code cover

Robert Martin trains programmers to write clean code in his book. With a collection of tips and examples, Clean Code transforms proficient programmers into master programmers. While the examples draw from multiple programming languages, predominantly Java, the message works for all programmers.

Programming Pearls

Programming Pearls cover

Considered a classic, Programming Pearls emphasizes the importance of problem-solving when writing strong code. In particular, author Jon Bentley identifies key programming challenges. The book emphasizes algorithms and algorithm design, offering helpful techniques and solutions.

Cracking the Coding Interview

Cracking the Coding Interview Cover

For beginners, the technical interview might be the most intimidating parts of becoming a software developer. Written by a software engineer, Cracking the Coding Interview relieves the stress. It offers 189 programming questions and solutions. But it’s not a cheat sheet by any means. You learn to break down the question, identifying the best technique, and practice with sample interview questions.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Code Complete cover

Another encyclopedic book, Code Complete clocks in at over 950 pages. This is the practical resource guide you’ll want once you get your first job. Code Complete offers techniques, tips, and tools to approach programming challenges, and offers a handy resource guide in the final chapters.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

The Pragmatic Programmer cover

A classic, The Pragmatic Programmer drills down to the core process behind programming. Useful for beginners and experienced programmers, The Pragmatic Programmer offers technical and practical suggestions. Critically, it training programmers to think pragmatically.

The Best Programming Books for Your Career

The final books on our list build soft skills, which programmers need to advance in their career.

The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide

The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide cover

It’s all about soft skills, says author John Sonmez. An experienced software developer, Sonmez argues that technical knowledge isn’t enough for career advancement. The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide builds soft skills, including communication, negotiation, and managing a team. Developers learn to handle any challenge, from choosing a programming language to acing an interview and moving up the ladder.

Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

Soft Skills cover

Also written by Sonmez, Soft Skills isn’t just about succeeding as a programmer. It’s also about your life outside of work. With sections on productivity, marketing yourself, and even fitness, Soft Skills covers everything.

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Code cover

It’s not exactly a career-oriented book. But Code helps programmers appreciate the history behind their craft. It’s all about manipulating language, writes Charles Petzold while blending technology with communication. Code delves into topics like the British invasion, Morse code, and flashlights to show how our current code-heavy world evolved.

Programmers need strong technical skills. But don’t forget about building career-ready skills, too, while you’re increasing your technical knowledge. Our list of the best programming books emphasizes well-rounded programmers who can code up a storm while also advancing professionally.

While you are at it, check out our list of the best programming podcasts as well as our list of the best programming blogs you should read daily.

Finally, if you are looking for the best programming class to go with your new books, try using Coding List, a free tool that helps you find the perfect course.

Enjoy your new books!

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