Poll Results: Best Books to Learn Programming While Having Fun

Where do you start if you want to learn programming as a hobby? It really helps to have some friends in the field, but a good book is also important. And there are thousands of programming books, so which ones are the best for the hobbyists?

I ran a poll in several LinkedIn groups to find out. I asked about three well established and popular programming languages: C#, Java and JavaScript. Here you can see the poll results and the selected comments.


C# poll results

(Disclosure: links to books are affiliate links.)

What is the best book for a beginner to learn C# as a hobby while having fun?

Total votes: 87

Ryan McGowan

Ryan McGowan: C# in a Nutshell is very informative about C# language specifics, and would be a good second book after Head First. Head First does a good job of getting you to not just learn the language, but learn the reasoning behind each step.

Frank Solomon
Frank Solomon: Try Venkat’s C# Youtube vids. Great stuff…

Danny Alan
Danny Alan: If you head over to csharpcourse.com there are some great pdf downloads of the Yellow Book series written by Rob Miles MVP. The books are geared towards 1st year UK undergrads. They explain the language very well whilst maintaining a good sense of humour. Best of luck.

Anthony White
Anthony White: This is a somewhat broad question because it depends on what you would be doing.

.NET is really a combination of many different technologies each of which are designed to perform a certain task, so you might not learn everything in one book.

I think Headfirst is the best option of the list you presented, but should also consider the following.

Microsoft Visual C# .NET Deluxe Learning Edition

Beginning C# 2008: From Novice to Professional

In case you haven’t worked with databases:

Microsoft ADO.NET Step by Step

Sean Walsh
Sean Walsh: I personally also really enjoy the Deitel Developers Series. Very applicable to real life by seasoned teachers.
(They also have a book for beginners – Valentyn)

Pouria Amirian
Pouria Amirian: For beginners that love have fun while diving into C# it is good to take:

“Head first C#” (but I don’t personally recommend this book to people who want to earn money by programming )

For the beginners that want serious book , Wrox “Beginning Visual C# 2012 Programming” provides more coverage of C# (than what the head first C# covers)

For the beginners that want more object-oriented approach from the beginning of this topic I suggest:
Wrox “Beginning Object-Oriented Programming with C# ”

For intermediate developers who wants to learn how to tackle a real world project I recommend the book “Beginning C# Object-Oriented Programming ” by Dan Clark

For intermediate programmers and developers from old days of .NET (1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 3.x and 4) I recommend the book “Pro C# 5 and .NET 4.5″ (or previous editions of this book) which tries to cover many topics in .NET, but without the real world examples of using most (if not all) topics

“C# 5.0 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference” (like the “Pro C# 5 and .NET 4.5″ book) is a reference book and is not a good choice for beginners.

In summary I recommend 1)Beginning Visual C# 2012 Programming published by Wrox and then 2) Beginning C# Object-Oriented Programming ” by Dan Clark published by APress

Good luck with your programming!


Java books poll results
What is the best book for a beginner to learn Java as a hobby while having fun?

Total votes: 31

Aman Kapoor
Aman Kapoor: I think “The Complete Reference Java 2″ by Herbert Schildt (Tata McGraw-Hill) is a good book

Mani Gupta: I think you should go for Ivor Horton’s Beginning Java 2, JDK 5 Edition…

One person also suggested TheNewBoston online Java tutorials, calling them educating and funny.


JavaScript books poll result
What is the best book for a beginner to learn JavaScript as a hobby while having fun?

William Turner: I would never tell any beginner to learn using any of those books. It falls into the same narcissistic trap that many tech people have when teaching. Mainly that our assumptions extend magically to the rest of the world. If you’ve never programmed in your life I would suggest the first nine or so chapters of “Javascript by Example”. If you have some experience programming I would then suggest”Learning Javascript” by Time Wright. Then from there go use “Javascript for Web Developers” while watching Doug Crockford videos in parallel. Also read this before you do anything : http://javascriptissexy.com/how-to-learn-javascript-properly/

William P. Riley-Land
William P. Riley-Land: I know JSTGP has the stigma of being too advanced for JS beginners, but I certainly found it to be a great introduction when I began to really develop in JS. Also, read lots of JS source on GitHub.

Om Shankar
Om Shankar: Eloquent JavaScript should serve you the needs.

But as a hobby while having fun, The Good Parts, as admitted by the author himself, explores the Amusements with JavaScript. And Amusements = fun ! :)

Though the book is old now. So is Douglas. (No disrespect here!)

Prasun Sultania
Prasun Sultania: Must read – Javascript Patterns by Stoyan Stefanov. Its very concise and to the point. This book talks about JS as a programming language, Not just as a DOM manipulation tool.

Tobias Parent
Tobias Parent: A new one I’ve just reviewed is fast becoming a favorite, and appropriate for the jQuery group (as opposed to the javascript group). jQuery Hotshot by Dan Wellman (Packt Publishing, http://www.packtpub.com/jquery-hotshot/book ) is a great way to have fun while learning javascript and jQuery — the first chapter is a HTML/CSS/JS sliding-piece puzzle that is both fun and easily extensible. An example of the slider can be found at http://snowmonkey.koding.com/hotshot/ch01/index.html?farm=4&server=3798&id=8797230013&secret=dba3c48535

I’ve posted a review at https://www.quora.com/Reviews-of-jQuery-Hotshot — check it out!

Mike Prutz
Mike Prutz: Crockford’s “Javascript the good parts” will give you solid foundations. Its more about teaching how to use well than teaching how to use it. You will need to supplement if you have no other background.
Stefanov’s “Javascript Patterns” is a must-have reference.
Zakas’ “High Performance Javascript” is the third leg you’ll want.

You might find these helpful also.
http://nefariousdesigns.co.uk/learning-javascript.html (But the links might be a bit dated)

Do you have your own favorite books?

Is your favorite programming book missing from this post? Please share the title in the comments below, with a few words of description.

This post was written by Valentyn Danylchuk, the editor of Five-Hour Projects. You can also publish guest posts here, suggest projects to write about, or get interviewed – contact val@fivehourprojects.com



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