20 Best Programming Books Every Coder Must Read

Google is an amazing search engine. You can find almost everything you need on the site. The keyword there is “almost.” For developers, you can find help, and you can find tips, but having books is ideal if you want to maintain a good career or even push it to the next level. In this article, we want to take a look at the best programming books every coder must read.

Programmers do read books, whether it be digitally or physically. Books are most important when starting your career because you won’t find everything you need on Google. There are times when you need to open a book to solve a problem or find the answer to something.

We have spent a lot of time selecting the best books that programmers should read. Now, we could just list all the books that I read, but that would be disingenuous. Instead, we want to carefully select books that I truly believe will help you in your career and help you if you are an aspiring programmer. So, let’s jump into it.

Do programmers read programming books?

Everyone is different, and we all learn through different methods. What works for one might not work for the other. To ask whether or not programmers read books is a good question. The answer, however, is subjective. Let’s take a look.

Most programmers, in my experience, read a lot of books. You will start in college by reading your course material. Then, you might go for a few months without reading after that. However, because development constantly changes, you need to stay up-to-date, and that’s where reading books is highly important.

The best books that you can read are references to the languages that you specialize in. If you don’t like reading, your best bet is to find books with an Audible version and listen to those during your daily commute or perhaps while working.

Video: Top Programming Books Of All Time (Development Books)

Are programming books worth it?

Programming books are worth it because education is worth it and essential for everyone regardless of your career level. The worst trait that anyone can have is the “know-it-all” trait. Look, even brain surgeons rely on books to keep themselves educated and up-to-date with modern practices.

The same can be said about programming. If you are not willing to read, it won’t necessarily hold you back, but reading books and learning how to be the best developer can seriously push your career forward.

It is always good to keep a few books on your shelf or in your Kindle. Sometimes doing a Google search for solving a certain problem is just not good enough, and that is where development books aimed specifically at your specialization are worth it.

The 6 Best Programming Books for All Programmers

In this section, we want to focus on books for all developers regardless of their specialization. As a developer or an aspiring one, there are certain things that you need to know. 

For example, in this section, we have a book for developers who are teaching themselves. We also have books that talk about maximizing the efficiency of how you progress through your programming career.

Basically, there is a book in this section for everyone, and regardless of your specialization, I highly recommend that you read through at least one of these books, whether it be an audiobook, physical copy, or even in your Kindle.

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

  • Author: Charles Petzold
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback, Hardback

The main difference between a computer programmer and a software engineer is that a software engineer understands software more than a programmer. When you understand where programming comes from, its design, and its applications, you will better understand what you are doing when writing code or developing programs.

This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to further their career from a software developer to a senior or even a software engineer. I have spoken with software engineers who have read the book well into their career, and they walked away with a better understanding of what they do as an engineer.

The Pragmatic Programmer: Your Journey To Mastery

  • Author: Andy Hunt
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Versions: Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

“The pragmatic programmer” aims to teach you a few things. The most obvious is in the name; it aims to teach you how to be pragmatic in your approach to projects in a practical, yet realistic way. When it comes to code, it tries to teach you how to write adaptable code that is flexible and dynamic.

Suppose you are a beginner or an intermediate programmer looking to give your career a boost. The best way to do that is to impress your peers and because this book teaches you how to avoid duplicating your code, solving problems, and protecting your code. Overall, this book is an essential read. Within the book, you will find advice on applying the pragmatic theory to your code and your career.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

  • Author: Robert C. Martin
  • Publisher: Upfront Books
  • Versions: Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback

Our first book from Robert C. Martin is essential for any programmer at any level and any stage of their career. You can get this book for free with Audible, and instead of reading it, you can listen to it as if it is a podcast whenever you have time.

The book is all about writing clean code. Look, just because a piece of code functions, does not mean it is a good code. It might cause problems further down the line. We all pick up bad habits during our careers, especially when we are just starting, and this book is the best way to get rid of any of those bad habits.

You can make your code truly stand out, and you can impress your peers by writing clean code that has practical functionality without redundancy and bugs.

Clean Architecture: A Craftsman’s Guide to Software Structure and Design

  • Author: Robert C. Martin
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Versions: Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback

Another entry from Robert C. Martin is all about clean architecture. The book aims to help system architects to sharpen their design principles, data management, and practices. All of this is for achieving the best functionality through their system architecture.

You can spend two weeks designing the architecture of your program only to find out that there are flaws within the design and the code simply does not work. Overall, the book saves you time and can push your career forward.

The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide:

  • Author: John Sonmez
  • Publisher: Simple Programmer LLC
  • Versions: Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback

John Sonmez was a highly successful software developer. He started at ten years old, but got his first job in Silicon Valley at 19 years old. And his career in development lasted over 17 years. He has recently published two books, and this is one of them. He also owns a YouTube channel, where he reaches a lot of viewers.

In this book, you will learn why soft skills are just as important as your technical ability as a developer. In our blog, we have spoken quite a bit about soft skills. Soft skills include: 

  • Problem-solving ability
  • Communication skills
  • Your ability to meet deadlines
  • Work ethic
  • Adaptability

Those are just a few. “The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide” aims to walk you through these soft skills and how you can build on them.

The Self-Taught Programmer: The Definitive Guide to Programming Professionally

  • Author: Cory Althoff
  • Publisher: Self-Taught Media
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

It is one thing for someone who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science to talk to you about being a self-taught developer. However, what better way than to hear it from someone, who is self-taught? Corey Althoff taught himself how to be a programmer in one year. After that, he was able to land a job at eBay as a software engineer.

I highly recommend that you give this book a read. You will learn a lot, including how you should approach your studies. However, to better grasp what it takes to be a self-taught software developer, I highly recommend you check out this article that we wrote.

The 3 Best Programming Books For Microsoft Developers

The Microsoft ecosystem is vast, and programmers who use it have a lot that they need to learn. Using Visual Studio with C# to the ASP network, a developer can choose to pursue many disciplines within the Microsoft network.

The books that we have chosen for this section are carefully selected, emphasizing C# and the .NET framework because those seem to be the most popular paths as of now.

However, we did not focus on database development such as Microsoft Access because we believe that is a topic for another article. So, if you are a Microsoft Access database developer, you might want to bookmark this site for when we release a new article.

Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step Developer Reference

  • Author: John Sharp
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

To understand the legitimacy of this book, you need to understand who the author is and what he has accomplished. John Sharp has approximately 35 years of software development experience. He is an expert in a variety of languages and systems. However, his Microsoft experience makes this one of the best books you can read.

John Sharp has developed applications for Microsoft Windows 10 and their Azure cloud infrastructure. He has made quite a big name for himself in the Windows ecosystem. A lot of the course materials for Microsoft courses are written and overseen by John.

If you want to develop for Windows using the Microsoft visual studio platform and C#, C++, or any other language, this could be the best book for you. In my experience, this book is essential to get you to a point where you can efficiently write code.

Head First C#: A Learner’s Guide to Real-World Programming with C# and .NET Core

  • Author: Andrew Stellman
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

Andrew Stellman is an expert in developing software for financial institutions. In fact, his first job was on Wall Street. He is one of the writers in the Head First series, and this book is specifically aimed at C# developers using the .Net framework.

This book takes a different approach to the other books we have discussed in this article. Andrew has a great writing style that incorporates a lot of fun into his teachings. In this book, you can expect to dive headfirst into developing apps, games, and much more.

If you are a beginner, intermediate, still in school, or even thinking about teaching yourself how to program, this is one of the essential books that you should have on your shelf or your Kindle. You will learn how to use the .Net framework for the first time, and if you are an intermediate developer, you will learn new things.

ASP.NET Core 5 and React: Full-stack web development using .NET 5, React 17, and Typescript

  • Author: Carl Rippon
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

Some of the highest-paid software developers are software engineers and full-stack developers. As a full-stack developer, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, and you will need to constantly learn new things to make you as effective at your job as possible.

This book almost made it into our web development section; however, we decided to add it into the Microsoft section because it focuses on building web applications using the Microsoft ecosystem. 

This book will teach you how to use React17, which uses the JavaScript library that helps you build user interfaces for web applications. You will also learn new things about Typescript. Most importantly, you will learn more about the .Net 5 framework.

The 3 Best Books For Java Developers

Java is one of the most widely used programming languages today. It is also one of the oldest languages available. You can do a lot with Java, from game development, web development and even mobile application software.

The first book that we will talk about is the Java reference, because with a language as robust as Java, having a reference on hand can make your life a lot easier. Remember, as we have mentioned before, sometimes doing a Google search just does not cut it.

So, if you are a Java developer, I highly recommend giving at least one of these books a read-through. Ideally, you would want to have Java the complete reference along with one of the others.

Java: The Complete Reference

  • Author: Herbert Schildt
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

Java: The Complete Reference is a book aimed at everyone. However, I must say that the book is best suited to developers who have experience—anyone from intermediate to senior level. It does cover the basics if you are a beginner; however, you should use this book as a supplement to your teachings rather than the book you turn to for everything you need to know.

As the title suggests, the book is a reference to anything Java-related, from the systems where Java is used to the language itself. If you are using the book on Kindle, you might struggle to see some of the diagrams, but other than that, we can’t fault this book.

Herbert Schultz is widely regarded as one of the best authors in the development industry. He has extensive knowledge of programming in Java and beyond.

Core Java Volume I–Fundamentals (Core Series)

  • Author: Cay S. Horstmann
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

Many books have a problem: they don’t give you many examples. In my experience, having real-world examples when learning code is one of the best things a book can do. With this book, you find 100-plus examples throughout the book to help you fully understand what the author is trying to say.

The book aims to teach you the core fundamentals of Java, but it also tries to teach you how to use and leverage every asset of the language and system to write clean, manageable, and easy to maintain code.

Many people can write code using Java. So, what sets you apart from the rest? Well, learning how to write code efficiently can help you stand out. For example, at an interview, you could be asked to solve a problem. If ten candidates solve the problem, but your code is cleaner than others, you should get the job.

Head First Java

  • Author: Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

Another entry for the Head First series is aimed at everyone from beginners, those in college to expert senior developers. The book has two authors: Kathy Sierra, who started her career in game development, and Bert Bates, who is a Java instructor with over 20 years of experience. Both of the authors bring years of experience to the table.

The Head First series places a lot of emphasis on making software development as fun as possible while still teaching you everything you need to know. Not only does it teach you about the language, but how to implement it practically and realistically.

2 Best Books for Web Developers

In this section, we are going to take a look at two books. The first of these is a book that teaches you how to use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery. As a beginner developer, that is what you need to start learning how to build a website as well as web graphics.

Web development is constantly changing. It would be best if you also adapted to these changes. For example, HTML 5 is vastly different from its previous iteration. If you did not adapt, you would not be able to build modern web applications. Therefore, you will be out of a job by now.

So, as a web developer, you must have a book with the latest updates.

We also have a book that goes in-depth into starting with no experience to becoming a web developer. So, let’s get into it.

Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set

  • Author: Jon Duckett
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Versions: Hardcover, Paperback

There are three types of web developers, front-end, back-end, and full-stack. Most back-end web developers are theoretically full-stack developers because you first need to learn how to work on the front-end throughout your career.

That is where this book comes in. It teaches you the languages you need to successfully and efficiently be a front-end web developer. The book is filled with real-world examples and tests to help you fully understand your reading content.

You cannot go into back-end web development without first starting in the front-end. To add to that, more and more companies are hiring developers to be full-stack developers than ever before. It means that they only have to pay one employee instead of two.

How To Be A Web Developer In 90 Days: Web Development Skills

  • Author: Gabriel Wilson
  • Independently published
  • Versions: Kindle, Paperback

This book is mainly aimed at self-taught developers. I found the information in the book is suitable for people who are also in college. The book teaches you Java, HTML, and CSS. It does so in a beginner-friendly way so that you don’t feel overwhelmed when starting out.

The book claims to get you ready within 90 days and whether or not this is true depends entirely upon you and how much effort you put into becoming a web developer. I feel that this book alone is not enough to get you ready, although it is a great starting point, and I highly recommend giving it a read-through.

What books should you read to learn programming?

We have discussed books that every programmer should have. We haven’t exactly gone through many books that aim to teach you how to become a developer and learn how to write code. Yes, the books we mentioned teach you a few things, but the books in this section are geared specifically at teaching you how to become a programmer.

We have selected this list with the impression that anyone who wants to learn to program and is reading this section right now, has only a very limited amount of experience or is starting from scratch.

So here are the books that I recommend you read if you want to become a programmer.

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article. We do hope that you find the right book for you. We understand that the wealth of resources aimed at you can feel overwhelming, so our goal was to make things easier for you.