Robert Johns | 16 Jan, 2024
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Want To Learn Programming? Check Out These Programming Books

In this article, I share the 10 best programming books in 2024.

But what do I mean by programming books? Well, rather than something language-specific, like books on Python programming, HTML, CSS, or Ruby, here I'll cover general programming books with information and skills you can apply in all languages.

Whether you’re new to programming and fresh off a self-taught programming course or an experienced professional looking to boost your programming skills, I’ve included programming books for beginners and pros alike.

Plus, with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reporting an average salary of over $100K for programmers, picking up a programming book can be the first step to a financially rewarding career.

So, if you’re ready, let’s dive into the best programming books to boost your skills.

The Best Programming Books You Need To Read

1. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship 1st EditionAuthor: Robert C. Martin

Latest Edition: 1st

Pages: 464

Published: August 2008

Publisher: Prentice Hall

Format(s): Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

Taking the top spot on my list is Clean Code by Robert C. Martin, who you may also know as Uncle Bob.

For me, this isn't just about programming but a definitive guide for any software development professional. I love Martin's approach to agile software craftsmanship, as he emphasizes the significance of clean, well-written code. This is like music to my ears!

The idea is that he challenges you to reassess your professional values and dedication to the craft of programming. I also appreciate that the book is divided into three parts: foundational principles of clean coding, engaging case studies, and a final compilation of heuristics and code “smells.”

I know, code smells?!

But what sets this book apart is its comprehensive coverage. You will learn to discern between good and bad code, transform problematic code into high-quality code, and understand the essentials of creating effective names, functions, objects, and classes.

Martin also has a nice writing style, and he places a strong emphasis on practicality, which is demonstrated by extensive code examples and real-world scenarios. This is a big plus point for me, as it means your theoretical knowledge is grounded in actual coding practices.

If you want a 1-line review, Clean Code is indispensable for developing and maintaining high standards in software development.


  • Extensive exploration of clean coding principles and agile practices
  • Insightful case studies to apply these principles practically
  • Guidance on identifying and improving code quality
  • Techniques for writing readable, maintainable, and efficient code
  • Emphasis on professional growth and ethical coding practices
  • Essential for developers, engineers, project managers, and team leads

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2. Introduction to Algorithms

Introduction to Algorithms (Eastern Economy Edition)Author: Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein

Latest Edition: 3rd

Pages: 1292

Published: January 2009

Publisher: The MIT Press

Format(s): Hardcover/Paperback



Why we chose this book

Taking the next place on my list of programming books is Introduction to Algorithms. For any programmer or aspiring software developer, there comes a time when you need to take on the mastery of algorithms, and this is a great place to begin.

What stood out to me in this 3rd edition is the blend of rigorous analysis and practical application, which is ideal for understanding how an algorithm works before coding it up.

If you want a programming book with extensive coverage of algorithms coupled with clear descriptions and pseudo-code, this is one of my top recommendations.

I also like the authors' approach to detailing complex algorithms in an accessible way. This is a really great approach because there's always a risk of making complex subjects boring or hard to follow, but there's none of that here.

From classic problems to the latest in algorithmic research, I'd say this is well suited to both students and professionals. Plus, if you pick up the latest edition, you get the benefit of added chapters on vEB trees and multithreaded algorithms.


  • In-depth coverage of a broad range of algorithms
  • Blend of theoretical and practical aspects
  • Accessible to readers at different levels of expertise
  • Continuously updated content in new editions
  • Ideal for both academic study and professional reference

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3. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP)

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)Author: Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Julie Sussman

Latest Edition: 2nd

Pages: 657

Published: Sept 1996

Publisher: The MIT Press

Format(s): Hardcover/Paperback



Why we chose this book

This is an interesting choice because while it's more than 25 years old, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs is a classic textbook for computer science education and learning programming, especially at MIT.

The second edition introduced major changes to reflect the authors' experience and lessons at MIT, including objects with state, concurrent programming, and sections on higher-order procedures in graphics and stream processing.

I particularly appreciate its insightful approach to functional programming and the way it connects mathematical logic with programming by focusing on pure functions and recursion. These are all key skills for any aspiring programmer.

Being an MIT textbook (of sorts), you should expect a rigorous yet engaging style that not only keeps you interested but also transforms your perspective on programming. It's especially great if you'd like to gain a deeper understanding of functional programming and its mathematical roots.

The main idea of this programming book is to take a deep dive into computational thinking and problem-solving, skills that any programmer needs to have. Plus, it's nice that this book takes a somewhat unique approach to demystifying complex concepts.

If you want to understand the philosophy and aesthetics of programming, this is a great read that can change how you think and code while also giving you a new perspective on abstraction, encapsulation, and coding style.


  • Unique approach to programming and computational thinking
  • Emphasis on abstraction, encapsulation, and programming aesthetics
  • Suitable for a wide range of readers, from students to seasoned programmers
  • Influential in computer science education and professional development

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4. The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers

The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers 1st EditionAuthor: Robert C. Martin

Latest Edition: 1st

Pages: 256

Published: May 2011

Publisher: Prentice Hall

Format(s): Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

Here we are again with one of my favorite authors, Uncle Bob, or more properly, Robert C. Martin.

As a natural extension to Clean Code, which takes the #1 spot on my list, The Clean Coder is another great choice for software developers who want to elevate their craft to an art form. Yes, coding can be art! Plus, it's only around 250 pages long.

Unlike traditional programming books, Uncle Bob focuses on the attitude, discipline, and professionalism required in software development. I really like how he intertwines practical advice with a deep understanding of what it means to be a true software craftsman.

The Clean Coder also goes beyond mere coding techniques, as it addresses how to face the pressures and challenges of being a programmer with integrity and honor.

From handling conflicts and tight schedules to mastering the flow of coding and avoiding burnout, this programming book provides a true blueprint for professional conduct in the often stressful and challenging world of software development.

This is the type of classic book that, in my opinion, every new programmer should be given when venturing out into the real world of software development!


  • Emphasizes the importance of professionalism in software development
  • Provides practical advice on various aspects of programming, from coding to communication
  • Addresses challenges like conflict resolution, time management, and handling pressure
  • Advocates for a responsible, ethical approach to software craftsmanship
  • Essential for developers seeking to refine their professional conduct and skills

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5. Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Code CompleteAuthor: Steve McConnell

Latest Edition: 2nd

Pages: 960

Published: July 2004

Publisher: Microsoft Press

Format(s): Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

Code Complete by Steve McConnell rightfully earns the next spot on my list of programming books for its unparalleled depth in software construction.

For me, McConnell masterfully integrates insights from research, academia, and commercial practice into a single, comprehensive guide. This is not all that common, and I really appreciate how he tried to do this.

This book isn't just about writing code but more of a deep exploration of the principles that underpin quality software development, from minimizing complexity to mastering construction techniques.

I think it's particularly valuable for its real-world applicability, helping programmers refine their craft whether they're working on small or large projects. McConnell's overall approach makes complex concepts accessible, which is ideal for bridging the gap between expert knowledge and everyday coding practices. 

This book also uses multiple programming languages, including Visual Basic, to illustrate key concepts,  making it easy for anyone with some basic programming knowledge to follow along.


  • Comprehensive guide on software construction techniques
  • Blends research insights with practical advice
  • Accessible to a wide range of readers, from novices to experts
  • Ideal for refining and mastering software development skills

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6. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Design PatternAuthor: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides, Grady Booch (Foreword)

Latest Edition: 1st

Pages: 960

Published: Oct 1994

Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional

Format(s): Hardcover/Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

If you're interested in object-oriented programming (and why wouldn't you be?!), Design Patterns is an excellent read for understanding the concepts of object-oriented software design.

What really stands out to me is that this programming book presents a catalog of 23 design patterns! That's a lot! It also offers simple and succinct solutions to commonly occurring design problems in object-oriented systems.

The idea here is that these patterns can help designers create more flexible, elegant, and reusable designs. Sounds good to me!

I also really appreciate that this programming book takes a systematic approach to explaining and cataloging design patterns. Each pattern is described in detail, including its applicability, implementation, and the trade-offs involved.

Overall, this book is a super strong resource of practical knowledge, compiled from real systems and based on real-world examples, making it a must-read for software developers who are keen on honing their design skills.


  • Comprehensive catalog of 23 reusable object-oriented design patterns
  • Practical guidance on the application and implementation of each pattern
  • Real-world examples demonstrating pattern use in software design
  • Ideal for both beginners and experienced object-oriented developers
  • Enhances design flexibility, elegance, and reusability in software projects

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7. The Pragmatic Programmer

The Pragmatic Programmer: your journey to mastery, 20th Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) 2nd EditionAuthor: Andrew Hunt, David Thomas

Latest Edition: 2nd

Pages: 352

Published: Sep 2019

Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional

Format(s): Hardcover/Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

The Pragmatic Programmer is, without a doubt, one of the best books for all programmers! Trust me, it is an invaluable addition to any bookshelf if you want a go-to resource for practical and timeless advice from authors who have distilled years of coding experience into accessible pearls of wisdom.

For me, it really bridges the gap between low-level software construction and higher-level methodology, and you could even go so far as to say that it offers technology-independent guidance that's as relevant today as ever.

That said, what sets this book apart for me is its emphasis on practical, real-world truths over theoretical concepts.

It's packed with experience-based advice, focusing on automation and effective development practices. The concept of tracer bullets, for example, advocates for an iterative approach to software development, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and understanding user requirements in real-time.

Of course, like any book that has been around for a while (and this was released originally in 1999), some advice may feel dated, and if you're already well-versed in agile principles, some sections might echo familiar concepts.

But despite this, the book's focus on fundamental development strategies and its emphasis on understanding why something works, not just making it work, make it an essential read.


  • A blend of practical experience and timeless software development principles
  • Focus on automation and adaptable, real-world coding practices
  • Technology-independent, making it relevant for various programming environments
  • Emphasizes understanding the 'why' behind coding solutions

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8. Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide

Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide 1st EditionAuthor: Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra, Elisabeth Robson

Latest Edition: 1st

Pages: 692

Published: Oct 2004

Publisher: O’Reilly Media

Format(s): Kindle/Paperback



Why we chose this book

Securing a place on our list for its unique and engaging approach, this head-first programming book is a brilliant option for learning object-oriented design patterns.

If you're not familiar with their series of programming books, the head-first series takes a metacognitive approach by combining text, humor, images, and games to make complex design patterns understandable and fun to learn.

Yep, believe me, this book can make the often dry subject of software design patterns an entertaining and accessible learning experience.

While the examples are primarily in Java, the concepts are applicable across various programming languages, making it a valuable resource for a wide range of developers.

And as I've said, what really sets Head First Design Patterns apart is its ability to turn a complex topic into an engaging one, making it a great reference book to be revisited whenever you need a refresher.


  • Engaging and unique metacognitive approach to learning design patterns
  • Makes complex object-oriented design concepts accessible and enjoyable
  • Covers a wide range of essential design patterns with practical examples
  • Ideal for developers who prefer a more interactive and less formal learning style
  • Excellent as both a learning tool and a reference guide in software design

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9. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Fowler)) 2nd EditionAuthor: Martin Fowler

Latest Edition: 2nd

Pages: 448

Published: Nov 2018

Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional

Format(s): Hardcover/Kindle



Why we chose this book

As any working programmer knows, writing your code is one thing, but refactoring is another skill altogether.

That's why it made sense to add Martin Fowler's guide to our list because if you're a software developer, you should always be aiming to improve your code's design and maintainability.

I really like that Fowler provides a comprehensive guide to refactoring, with a range of practical advice that's backed by real-world examples.

It's also nice to see that in the latest edition,  Folwer reflects key changes in programming, featuring a new catalog of refactorings with JavaScript examples and functional examples without classes.

This maintains the book's core focus on improving code understandability and maintainability but ensures the advice remains current.

I also appreciate that Fowler emphasizes building solid tests for refactorings and acknowledges trade-offs and obstacles in the process. Overall, I think it's a valuable resource for developers at all levels, as we can all benefit from writing clearer, more efficient code. 


  • In-depth exploration of refactoring techniques and principles
  • Practical advice on improving code design and maintainability
  • Suitable for both novice and experienced programmers
  • Essential for anyone looking to enhance their coding skills and software quality

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10. The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-4

The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-4A Boxed Set 1st EditionAuthor: Donald E. Knuth

Latest Edition: 1st

Pages: 3168

Published: March 2011

Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional

Format(s): Hardcover



Why we chose this book

Rounding out my list of programming books, I've actually added a book series from Donald Knuth, who just happens to be a Turing Award laureate (this is like the Nobel Prize for computing) for his contributions to the analysis of algorithms and programming language design:

  • Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms
  • Volume 2: Seminumerical Algorithms
  • Volume 3: Sorting and Searching
  • Volume 4A: Combinatorial Algorithms

This comprehensive collection makes up the Art Of Computer Programming. Known for its thoroughness and depth, these volumes cover a wide range of topics, from basic programming concepts to more advanced algorithms and data structures.

In fact, for many, Knuth's work is not just a series of books but more a monumental contribution to the field of computer programming, offering unparalleled insights into algorithmic thinking and problem-solving.

This series is also unique for its rigorous mathematical approach, blending theory with practical examples. It's a go-to resource for anyone serious about delving into the complexities of algorithms and programming techniques.

The detailed explanations, accompanied by Knuth’s meticulous and methodical style, make these volumes a hugely helpful body of knowledge for students, educators, and professional programmers alike.


  • Comprehensive coverage of fundamental and advanced topics in computer programming
  • Rigorous mathematics for algorithms and data structures
  • In-depth explanations with practical examples
  • Ideal for students, educators, and professionals in computer science
  • A foundational work in the field of computer programming

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How To Choose The Best Programming Book?

Choosing the best books to learn programming can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner and you're still trying to pick the best language to learn!

That's exactly why I created this article!

But if you want some tips for finding the best programming books, here are the criteria I used when creating this list:

  1. Determine your skill level: If you are a beginner learning from scratch, look for programming books that cover the basics. If you’re experienced, look for advanced books on specific features.
  2. Check the author's credentials: Focus on programming books written by authors with experience in programming and teaching programming.
  3. Read reviews: Check out the programming book's reviews online to understand what other readers think. This is often a goldmine of information!
  4. Consider your learning style: If you prefer a hands-on approach, focus on programming books that include exercises and projects.

Wrapping Up

And there you go, the 10 best programming books in 2024, including programming books for beginners and experienced coders.

Whether you’re just starting out in programming or you want to level up your skills, I’ve included programming books to help you achieve your goals in your career.

Happy reading!

Are you brand new to programming, and you're ready to learn Python? Check out:

Our very own Python Masterclass - Python with Dr. Johns

People are also reading:


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022, 15-1251 Computer Programmers [Internet]. [updated 2021 Mar 31; cited 2024 Jan 15]. Available from:

By Robert Johns

Technical Editor for | 15+ Years in Python, Java, SQL, C++, C#, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, .NET, MATLAB, HTML & CSS, and more... 10+ Years in Networking, Cloud, APIs, Linux | 5+ Years in Data Science | 2x PhDs in Structural & Blast Engineering

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Vibhor Tyagi

I engineer AI for a living, but have yet to get to these books soon enough

4 years ago