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Cenny Davidsson
Cenny Davidsson

Posted on • Originally published at

Beginners and programming books

- Don't know if I'm smart enough to be a programmer.

Anyone can be a programmer, but not everyone wants to. The easiest way to find out is to try it. So, if you ever wondered if programming was for you, you should continue reading.

- I want to learn to code. Should I read programming books?

Reading programming books is an excellent way to learn new ideas and techniques. As a beginner, one must avoid picking a programming book that is too advanced.

Popular programming books like Clean Code and Refactoring assume some experience. Beginners will have no reference to the subjects discussed in these books. Reading them too early will only confuse you instead of enlightening you.

- What book do you recommend to start with?

It's essential to make sure the programming book you chose is directed towards beginners. Programming books that assume you know some programming already should be avoided.

I recommend buying any book that targets beginners with an easy language to learn. I would go with Ruby Programming for Beginners or Python Crash Course. Javascript is not an easy programming language, but it's popular, so JavaScript Crash Course might also be an option.

Note that relying solely on a programming book to learn programming can be unnecessarily burdensome.

- What should I do then?

Find someone who can help you, a teacher, or anyone with some experience. It's essential to have someone to turn to when you get stuck or have questions.

- I don't know any programmers.

If you don't know anyone who does programming professionally (or as a hobby), try finding a mentor on, or contact a local school offering programming courses.

It is always good to join a local group and get to know programmers in your town.

- Okay, can I start reading now?

Programming is a craft, and you will learn from doing it more than reading about it. So, in addition to reading the introductory programming book you picked, make sure to do all exercises in it.

- I'm done with the introductory programming book, but building something feels daunting.

Read Explain the Cloud Like Iā€™m 10. It will demystify computers, apps, and networks.

Your following programming book should be Exercises for Programmers. It's language-agnostic and contains no solutions. The first exercise starts simple, and each following one introduces one new concept so that you won't get overwhelmed.

Once you have completed Exercises for Programmers, you should have more than enough experience to start building a hobby project. Avoid grandiose ideas of changing the world and pick something simple and small to develop, and let it grow with time.

- And after I've done all that?

Start reading the programming books under the Apprentice section. Also, you should start applying for internships and get some real-life experience.

Discussion (4)

lifenavigator profile image

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python is a great book for beginners. Think python is also another one worth mentioning, it teaches debugging early on and has brilliant exercises.

cennydavidsson profile image
Cenny Davidsson Author

I'll have to add them to my list and check them out. Thanks for the tip!

peerreynders profile image
peerreynders • Edited on

This may be of some interest:

Shriram Krishnamurthi was a co-author on How to Design Programs with Matthias Felleisen among others.

Matthias Felleisen was co-author on The Little Schemer, and The Seasoned Schemer.

peerreynders profile image