10 Best R Programming Books in 2024

R is existential useful for a developer or coder looking for a career in Data Science or Statistics. Learndunia has compiled a list of the 10 best R programming Books for beginners and advanced professionals to help them master R.



Presently, R and Python are two of the leading programming languages. Both have their share of pros and cons. So, in some instances, programmers prefer R over Python or Python over R, depending on their requirements. Python allows easy and quick integration of data analysis with web apps. That’s why it is an excellent choice for Machine Learning, software testing, and development.

On the other hand, R has an inherent statistical nature, which makes it ideal for developing statistical computing software. In this article, we will present the 10 best R programming books for you.

Let’s begin!

10 Best R Programming Books (Beginner and Advanced)

1. The Book of R – A First Course in Programming and Statistics 

The Book of R

Author: Tilman M. Davies
Last Edition: 16 July 2016 (1st edition)
Publisher: No Starch Press

This book is one of the best R books available for you.

“The Book of R” by Tilman M. Davis explains the basics of R programming like handling data. Then it moves to more complex topics like performing statistical tests and modeling. It is a beginner-friendly guide to R programming, and no prior knowledge of the programming language is required to understand this. It contains five parts: Basics of R Programming, Probability and Statistics, Hypothesis Testing, and Advanced Graphics.

It does an excellent job of combining detailed explanations with real-world examples. The author realizes that programming is more about practice. That is why he provides exercises at the end of each chapter. The Book of R handles mathematical concepts like statistics from scratch. That makes it great for anyone with a Mathematics background.

2. Python for Data Analysis: Data Wrangling with Pandas, NumPy, and IPython

R for Data ScienceAuthor: Wes McKinney
Last Edition: 27 October 2017 (Second edition)
Publisher: Shroff/O’Reilly

“Python for Data Analysis” is suitable for beginners. It is an excellent choice to start learning Data Science and R. If you are dealing with analyzing and cleaning big data sets, this book could prove to be useful.

The book introduces you to the Tidyverse and covers topics like data visualization, data analysis, fundamentals, and implementation of R. Moreover, it teaches all the necessary tools required to implement R. One great advantage of this book is that it has exercises after every chapter. As such, you can cement the concepts learned through practice. A good part of the book is available online for free. So, you can get yourself acquainted with the content and writing style before buying the book.

3. R in Action

R in Action

Author: Robert L. Kabacoff
Last Edition:
1 January 2015 (Second edition)
Dreamtech Press

“R in Action” is a practical introduction to anyone keen on learning R.  By Rob Kabacoff, this beginner-friendly book teaches you how to read, reorganize and display data.

It is one of the most recommended books on R. It includes chapters on cluster analysis, time series analysis and classification methodologies, etc. Also, the book provides the logic behind the language.

With the help of over 130 graphs, the book illustrates how to visualize data. The book focuses on practical problems to teach the language. You can also learn step-by-step data analysis.

4. The Art of R Programming – A Tour of Statistical Software Design

The Art of R Programming

Author: Norman Matloff
Last Edition: 
11 October 2011 (1st edition)
No Starch Press

“The Art of R Programming” is one of the best R programming books. You can consider it as a comprehensive guide to the R language. It is considered a perfect fit for anyone looking to introduce themselves to the world of programming. Mind you, the book requires next to zero knowledge on the topic before starting with it.

It covers data structures, closure, basic data types, recursion, anonymous functions, and object-oriented programming. The book starts with simple topics like matrices and vectors and moves on to more complex ones like graphics and debugging. Numerous examples are provided to apply the concepts learned. Also, there is ample room for experimentation. It is a must-have book for anyone in the data analysis domain.

5. Hands-on Programming with R

Hands-on Programming with RAuthor: Garrett Grolemund
Last Edition:
1 January 2014 (First Edition)

“Hands-on Programming with R” is easy and conversational, which makes it the most recommended book for beginners. Reading the book feels more like attending a lecture by your favorite professor.

The book covers loading data, assembling and disassembling objects, navigating R’s environment, and writing your functions. It guides you through the three practical data analysis projects based on casino games. The book also provides handy tips, making it an excellent learning resource on the subject. Best of all, you might be able to write your first code only after reading the first 20 pages.

6. R Graphics Cookbook – Practical Recipes for Visualizing Data

R Graphics Cookbook

Author: Winston Chang
Last Edition:
10 November 2018 (Second edition )

If you want a more advanced approach to R programming with a focus on its graphical aspect, “R Graphics Programming Cookbook” is the best bet for you. It contains over 150 recipes to help you generate high-quality graphs.

Although dealing with much more complicated topics, the book still explains everything in an easy-to-understand way. Some previous knowledge of R is recommended to get the most out of this book. Winston Chang, the author, is a software engineer at RStudio. And, this book is an updated version of some of his previous works on the programming language.

7. R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics

R for Everyone

Author: Jared P. Lander
Last Edition:
15 April 2018 (Second edition )
Pearson Education

R for Everyone is a comprehensive book on the language. It is a beginner-friendly book and helps you go from zero to expert on the language. It covers a wide range of topics from downloading and installing R to basic program control, data import, manipulation, etc.

Even if you think you have good knowledge about R, some topics might still surprise you. The book tries to have something for everyone with a variety of topics covered. From basic topics like reading data to more advanced ones like programming in R and inferential statistics, it contains it all.

8. Practical Data Science with R

Practical Data Science with RAuthor: Nina Zumel, John Mount
Last Edition: 1 January 2014
Dreamtech Press

“Practical Data Science” with R by Nina Zumel and John Mount is a practical guide to using data science as a practice rather than just a process. The authors have an excellent reputation for publishing quality programming books.

It is a fun, interesting book covering all aspects of Data Science. You will come across the statistical details behind the familiar routines in machine learning. The examples provided in the book are about real business situations. Other than Data Science, it covers graphics in R, predictive modeling, implementation of the R platform, etc.

9. Learning R: A Step-by-Step Function Guide to Data Analysis

Learning RAuthor: Richard Cotton
Last Edition: 26 September 2013 (First Edition)

“Learning R” by Richard Cotton explains all the essential R tools required for data analysis. It is mainly a step-by-step guide to data analysis. It deals with concepts like cleaning data, understanding data, and what to do when you make mistakes while writing data analysis code.

It also has the relevant R programming techniques and plots that are required for a beginner. The book is essentially divided into two parts. The first part deals with the intricacies of the R language while the second part is a conventional approach to data analysis. It also shows how data structures and functions are applied to data analysis.

10. Advanced R

Advanced R

Author: Hadley Wickham
Last Edition: 23 May 2019 (2nd Edition)
Chapman and Hall/CRC

This is another book on the list written by Hadley Wickham. He’s a chief scientist at RStudio, an adjunct professor at Stanford University and the University of Auckland. To his credit, he is also a lead developer of Tidyverse, which is a collection of R packages.

He’s still an excellent writer with experience under his belt and all his contributions to the R community. His extensive use of diagrams in the book only makes the learning process easier. If you have a basic understanding of R, this book will help you start coding.

The book primarily deals with advanced topics of R, and the initial chapters do a great job explaining the inner workings of R. That is why even someone with an intermediate knowledge of the language can find this book helpful.

Buy the Best R Programming Books

S.No Best Ethical Hacking Books Buy Now
1 The Book of R – A First Course in Programming and Statistics Details
2 Python for Data Analysis: Data Wrangling with Pandas, NumPy, and IPython, 2nd Edition Details
3 R in Action Details
4 The Art of R Programming – A Tour of Statistical Software Design Details
5 Hands-on Programming with R Details
6 R Graphics Cookbook – Practical Recipes for Visualizing Data Details
7 R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics Details
8 Practical Data Science with R Details
9 Learning R: A Step-by-Step Function Guide to Data Analysis Details
10 Advanced R Details


As we all know, R is a vast topic in itself. So, no one book teaches you everything about the programming language. Your choice of the Best R programming books will depend on what aspect of the language you are trying to learn; graphical, statistical, or data analytics.

Furthermore, it can depend on the level of knowledge you have of R. A beginner will prefer an entirely different book than an expert on the subject. However, we hope this list provides something for everyone.

Happy learning!


Q.1 How long does it take to learn R programming?

Ans. If you are a beginner, you will need at least 3 weeks. Besides, if you know a programming language beforehand, it will require a week.

Q.2 Why learn R programming?

Ans. R is highly useful in data science, businesses, developing web applications, and much more. It is known as a go-to language for statistics and data science.

Q.3 Can I learn R on my own?

Ans. Yes, there are various books available on R. However, taking the help of online mediums is always beneficial.

Q.4 Is R or Python better for beginners?

Ans. For beginners, Python is better to learn as it has a smooth learning curve. However, it is one’s choice in the end.

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