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10 Best C Books for Beginners & Advanced Programmers

If learning C is a priority, these best C books can help.

C is one of the oldest languages and still a must-know for any programmer. If you are new to the world of programming, starting with C would be a good idea. It’s a powerful, easy-to-learn language with a stricter syntax. C is more or less like the grandparents, whose genetic code has been passed down to their offspring (other languages).

If you are thinking about learning with the help of books, you might be spoilt for choice as the variety of C books is simply unprecedented. Just breathe easy, as we have done the heavy lifting for you. Team LearnDunia has handpicked 10 of the best C books out there. So, check out the list given below and help yourself to informed decisions.

Best C Books

1. Effective C: An Introduction to Professional C Programming

Effective C An Introduction to Professional C Programming

Description: “Effective C” is an excellent C language book for anyone with prior knowledge of C. It is a well-organized, fast-paced book that takes a comprehensive approach to C. That’s why it’s at the top of our list of the best C books on the market.

The author shows the right way to write a safe and secure code. The chapters on debugging are detailed. As the book is relatively new compared to many others on the list, it has the latest information on the C programming language. Also, it has plenty of exercises for practice.

While the book is suitable for beginners, it’s not for absolute beginners. You require some intimacy with C. More experienced programmers may even find the book a slow read. However, we still recommend this C programming book for the sheer value it brings to learners.

  • Originally Published- 2020
  • Author- Robert C. Seacord

You can buy this book here.

2. Learn C Programming

Learn C Programming A beginner's guide to learning C programming the easy and disciplined way

Description: This book is a perfect fit for the beginner and those at the intermediate level. The best way to work with the book is to follow it step-by-step and then run the code. Your coding in C knowledge will get a significant boost once you finish reading the book.

It covers a wide range of topics in the programming language. It is a well-organized book, as the newer topics build on the previous ones. Each section has examples to extend the understanding of the concepts. All of the codes in the examples work while compiling.

The book discusses the subjects in reasonable depth and includes the common pitfalls as well as troubleshooting. If you are not a beginner in C and have a good understanding of it, this book can help you advance your programming skills.

  • Originally Published- 2020
  • Author- Jeff Szuhay

You can buy this book here.

3. C Programming in One Hour a Day

C Programming in One Hour a Day, Sams Teach Yourself

Description: If you plan to learn C programming, this could be the perfect fit for you. This book is part of the “Sam’s Teach Yourself” series, and like all other books in the series, it also provides information in small bite-size bits to help self-taught programmers. The approach makes it one of the best C books currently on the market.

This is a comprehensive guide to the language. You can expect an overview at the beginning of each chapter, followed by an introduction to the theory. The chapters conclude with dos and don’ts that provide the summary of the chapter.

The book explains examples in detail, which ensure a better understanding of the concepts. This book is a fantastic way to start learning C.

  • Originally Published- 2013
  • Author- Bradley Jones, Peter Aitken, Dean Miller

You can buy this book here.

4. C in a Nutshell

C in a Nutshell, 2e The Definitive Reference

Description: “C in a Nutshell” is an expansive coverage of the language. It covers almost everything in C. With over 800 pages, this could be expected. But the authors have put in a lot of effort in writing the book, with each topic aptly elaborated. The book also has ample examples to understand the codes and how they work.

If you are a complete newbie, other books on the list might be more suitable for you. This C programming book is more of a reference book for experienced programmers. So, if you are looking for a book you can have by your side and pick up for reference any time you get stuck working on C, this is it.

  • Originally Published- 2016
  • Author- Peter Prinz, Tony Crawford

You can buy this book here.

5. C Programming Language (2nd Edition)

C Programming Language (2nd Edition)

Description: This is a classic book on the subject, which is as relevant as ever. This book is not for complete beginners in C programming because many of the topics require some prior knowledge.

The book may seem small, but the author’s teaching style is not for everyone. Some readers claim that it will take years to finish this book. With that being said, if you are serious about learning C, this is a must-read. There is no fluff in the book, and the authors haven’t wasted a single word. This book has everything, from practical knowledge to reference material, and challenging exercises.

Many even call the book “The Bible of C” due to the amount of knowledge it packs into just over 200 pages. Also, the book is written by the creator of the language himself, Dennis M. Ritchie. As such, it had to feature in our list of the best C books out there.

  • Originally Published- 1988
  • Author- Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis M. Ritchie

You can buy this book here.

6. C Programming Absolute Beginner’s Guide (3rd Edition)

C Programming Absolute Beginner's Guide

Description: It is one of the best books for beginners in the field. The authors explain all the fundamentals of C in 32 concise and well-structured chapters. The book is well-organized and gives a clear understanding of all the basics of C.

The book aims to make the reader write robust C programs. It contains simple, practical examples that help you write programs of your own. Picking up this book will do you a great favour if you want to begin your journey of learning C. As the book never claims to make an expert out of the reader, it doesn’t explain many complex topics in detail.

  • Originally Published- 2013
  • Author- Greg Perry, Dean Miller

You can buy this book here.

7. Head First C

Head First C A Brain-Friendly Guide

Description: As with the other books in the Head First series, this is a beginner-level book. It covers essential areas like pointers, pointer arithmetic, and language basics. Like all the other books in the series, this one too has a visually rich format and isn’t text-heavy.

The practical approach to learning, along with a conversational tone of writing, hooks up the reader and makes it one of the best C books. Also, the chapters progress at a good pace, neither lightning-fast nor turtle-like slow.

While it’s not as in-depth or comprehensive as some of the other books in the series, it’s a safe bet for a complete novice. As the book has been in print for over nine years now, you might find some of the concepts outdated. However, it’s still an excellent investment to make.

  • Originally Published- 2012
  • Author- David Griffiths, Dawn Griffiths

You can buy this book here.

8. C Programming

C Programming 2e A Modern Approach

Description: Think of this book as the modern classic in C programming. It is a thorough book that covers a wide range of topics and includes some challenging exercises. The author uses a humorous and fun tone to make a dull subject exciting.

If you are entirely new to the world of programming, this book helps you think like a computer engineer. In this book, you get the best practices and detailed answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

The gradual rise in complexity in the book makes it beginner-friendly, although some of the concepts are more suitable for an intermediate-level programmer. You can always expect well-explained topics like pointers, memory management, and linked lists that require special attention. If your goal is to develop in C or any variant of C, you must use this book.

  • Originally Published- 2008
  • Author- K.N. King

You can buy this book here.

9. Learn C the Hard Way

Learn C the Hard Way Practical Exercises on the Computational Subjects You Keep Avoiding (Like C) (Zed Shaw's Hard Way Series)

Description: Think of it as an action-oriented take on learning C. The book is more about doing the exercises and then learning through explanations. Zed Shaw, the author, provides you with all the tools needed to develop in C.

The author takes a hands-on approach to learning, encouraging the reader to read, write, and execute code as early as possible. The book is all about getting you up and running on writing C programs. The examples provided are great, and the explanations help understand the facts better.

While the book is written with the novice in mind, it has something for everyone. Also, the author does recommend the reader learn at least one language before working with this book. It’s great for beginners or even for someone who has been away from C for a while and needs a quick refresher.

  • Originally Published- 2015
  • Author- Zed Shaw

You can buy this book here.

10. C Primer Plus

C Primer Plus (Developer's Library)

Description: C Primer Plus is a beautifully organised book that has something for everyone. Each chapter concludes with a review of the key concepts, a summary, and exercises. This way of presentation ensures the reader is well-versed in the concepts before moving forward.

The book is for anyone interested in programming, not just C. It works well as a reference book. Plus, it has excellent examples, great explanations, and helpful analogies that make it one of the best C books you could lay your hand on.

With over 1000 pages, it may look like a daunting task, but the book is worth your time and money. Also, reading the book cover to cover gives you an in-depth idea of the world of C programming.

  • Originally published- 2013
  • Author- Stephen Prata

You can buy this book here.

Conclusion

Learning C is a must for any serious programmer. It builds up the foundation nicely and sets you up for more challenging languages. Substituting books with your video courses is an excellent way to fast-track your learning process. I hope our list of the 10 best C books helps you with that. Let us know in the comments section if we missed any of your favourites.

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Vijay Singh Khatri

My name is Vijay Singh Khatri, and I enjoy meeting new people and finding ways to help them have an uplifting experience. I have had a variety of customer service opportunities, through which I was able to have fewer returned products and increased repeat customers when compared with co-workers.

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