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5 JavaScript Books I Regret Not Reading as a Code Newbie

As a motivated code newbie, I discovered an amazing book called A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript.

Of all the 1000s of JavaScript books, A Smarter Way was a total game changer. It helped me learn not only the basics, but also taught me how to start coding and solving JavaScript problems on my own.

I would use this book together with Udemy courses to really get the concepts to stick. Results were 🔥.

A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript book cover

While that book is a stone-cold classic for any beginning web developer, there are also books I discovered later on that are also brilliant.

Whenever I found another great JavaScript book there was always the nagging thought of "Wow, I wish I would have discovered this when I was first starting out."

It would have saved me tons of precious time and energy rather than jumping from resource to endless resource.

Here are the 5 JavaScript books I regret not having as a code newbie.

5. JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development

This is a huge book by Jon Duckett and features hundreds of illustrations and code samples. The production is a cut above most other programming books I’ve seen. With full-color pages plenty of breathing room between ideas, I discovered JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development about a year after I started learning web development.

Geared towards newbies, Duckett’s style is unmatched.

JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development book cover

He keeps things simple and engaging, and jQuery is an excellent added feature. Some may say jQuery is dead but there are plenty of reasons to still use it! He never over-explains things, which is hard to do with JavaScript.

4. Eloquent JavaScript, 3rd Edition: A Modern Introduction to Programming

This was a recent purchase and from the first page of the intro I was hooked. This is the 3rd and most up-to-date edition of Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke. It includes all the ES6 goodies you need for the modern JavaScript experience.

One of the best parts of this book is that each section has exercises and even projects to complete. Who says books can’t be interactive!

Eloquent JavaScript book cover

Marijn goes into the gory details of JavaScript, starting with the basics like functions and control structures. He then segues into things like error handling, debugging and even dives into Node a little. There’s also an online interactive sandbox where you can play with the code samples.

3. You Don’t know JS (series).

You Don’t Know JavaScript (often abbreviated YDKJS) is a series of six books that each touch upon different JavaScript topics.

Author Kyle Simpson is a true JavaScript guru. With his trademark red beard, you’ve perhaps seen him on YouTube or some other platform schooling the masses on this weird thing we call JavaScript.

Books include:

  • You Don’t Know JS: Up and Going (essentially covers core JavaScript concepts including ES6)
  • You Don’t Know JS: Scope & Closures
  • You Don’t Know JS: Async & Performance
  • You Don’t Know JS: ES6 & Beyond
  • You Don’t Know JS: this & Object Prototypes
  • You Don’t Know JS: Types & Grammar

What I like about the You Don't Know JavaScript series is that Kyle is enthusiastic and detailed about how JavaScript works. Even the first book (Up and Going) has a lot of good info despite being more of an intro & overview of the language.

You Don't Know JS book covers

Up and Going was the first one in the series I purchased which led me into the YDKJS rabbit hole.

A lot of authors and instructors play it safe and as a result their writing style is a snooze-fest. Not so with Kyle Simpson and the YDKJS series.

2. JavaScript: The Good Parts.

Known for his early contributions to JavaScript, author Douglas Crockford brings an amusing title to an otherwise-serious topic. In reality, JavaScript was hastily written and contains many undesirable qualities as a programming language.

Fortunately, as Crockford points out, there are good parts! He scrapes away the bad features to expose a subset of JS that’s more reliable, readable, and maintainable than JavaScript as a whole.

He addresses things like:

  • objects
  • functions
  • inheritance
  • arrays
  • regular expressions

…and more.

JavaScript: The Good Parts is an older book (2008), but the information is very much still valid.

JavaScript: The Good Parts book cover

What I like about JavaScript: The Good Parts is that it’s written by a JavaScript godfather who isn’t afraid to admit that the language has some serious flaws, but presents practical ways to look past them.

As a result, you get to focus on the good parts and maximize them to become a better programmer.

1. If Hemmingway Wrote JavaScript

This is probably the quirkiest book on JavaScript I’ve ever encountered. If Hemmingway Wrote JavaScript has author Angus Croll imagining short JavaScript programs as written by famous authors. The result is a fun and educational combo of poetry, prose and programming.

For example, what if Jane Austen was asked to write a factorial program in JavaScript or if Shakespeare had to generate the Fibonacci sequence? Their programs are even available on GitHub. If Hemmingway Wrote JavaScript book cover

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing Lewis Carroll’s theoretical program involving prime numbers, If Hemmingway Wrote Javascript is for you. What I love about this book is that is UNIQUE and FUN. The illustrations are also really cool and I forget I’m actually reading a tech book.

Whether you’re a code newbie or seasoned web developer, these books are worthy of any technical library.

Of these five books I would suggest starting with the Jon Duckett book ( JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development) since the whole book is geared towards newbies.

But you can quickly ease your way in to the rest of these books as a newbie and they’ll continue to provide value years down the road.

What other JavaScript books are worth checking out? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Check me out on YouTube where I talk about all things web development!

This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article.

Discussion (4)

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hunterbecton profile image
Hunter Becton

You can also get a free PDF, EPUB, or MOBI version of Eloquent Javascript on their site! eloquentjavascript.net/

I still bought the paperback version because I like having the physical book, but it's great if you're on a budget or like to read through the book before buying it.

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davidchase profile image
David Chase

2ality's books are pretty awesome too exploringjs.com/

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kbrikh profile image
Kamel BRIKH

"Secrets of the Javascript ninja" is one of my favorite books. Really worth reading.

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realtoughcandy profile image
RealToughCandy.io Author

Thanks! That's a new one for me -- on the list it goes. : )