10 Best PHP Books for Beginner and Advanced Programmers

Want to master PHP? Here are the 10 best PHP books available on the market to help you get the gist of PHP.

Every time a new programming language comes along, there is a discussion about whether PHP is dead already. But the truth is that PHP has been around for over two and a half decades, and it is going nowhere in the near future. A significant number of websites still use PHP, and it is one of the essential languages in terms of web development.

Whether you are new to PHP or a seasoned programmer who has been away from the language for a while and needs to revisit it for a new project, books can be an excellent source in either case. We have compiled a list of the 10 best books on PHP to help your cause.

Best PHP Books

1. Head First PHP & MySQL

Head First PHP & MySQL A Brain-Friendly Guide

Description: This book, like the others in the Head First series, has a visually-rich format and an engaging and conversational tone. As a result, it is an excellent choice for someone with only a basic understanding of PHP.

The authors have created some fantastic case studies that will provide you with a lot of information as you work with them. This is a hands-on book that teaches you by example. The authors entice you to participate by having you type codes. This book stands out because of its humorous approach to learning. And, you won’t even realise you’re reading a book with over 800 pages.

  • Originally published- 2009
  • Author- Lynn Beighley, Michael Morrison

You can buy this book here.

2. Murach’s PHP and MySQL (3rd Edition)

Murach's PHP and MYSQL Training & Reference (Murach's PHP and MySQL (3rd Edition))

Description: Think of it as the best book on PHP for beginners. It starts with the absolute basics and gradually builds complexity throughout its 866 pages. The book contains clear and understandable examples for stickier learning.

Also, the explanations are excellent, and even a complete novice feels at ease learning the concepts. This book can be useful even if you already know a lot about PHP and just need a reference book. The table of content allows you to jump right to a particular topic to refresh your memory.

So, if you are planning to start learning PHP from zero and plan to master the language, this is the perfect book for you. It gets you from zero to advanced levels real quick.

  • Originally Published- 2017
  • Author- Ray Harris

You can buy this book here.

3. Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript (5th Edition)

Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript 5e With jQuery, CSS & HTML5 (Learning PHP, MYSQL, Javascript, CSS & HTML5)

Description: This book is not a typical PHP book, but it still made it to the list of the best PHP books out there. Why? Well, it explains the fundamentals and practical aspects of PHP efficiently. You will find the PHP section to be comprehensive and well-structured.

“Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript” covers almost everything that you need to start creating complex websites. Even if you know nothing about programming and want to build web pages from scratch, this book is probably all you need.

It is full of examples and explanations that are thorough and easy to understand. The book guides you through the essential aspects of web development. The book is an excellent fit for both beginners and experienced developers wanting to refresh their knowledge.

  • Originally Published- 2018
  • Author- Robin Nixon

You can buy this book here.

4. Programming PHP

Programming PHP Creating Dynamic Web Pages

Description: Programming PHP is an excellent book on the fundamentals of PHP. It explores a wide variety of topics, ranging from the core of PHP to the advanced ones. The book explores all the possibilities when using PHP programs for the benefit of PHP programmers.

“Programming PHP” starts with language fundamentals like data types, variables, operators, and flow. It then walks us through common web application techniques like data validation, session tracking, and form processing. Furthermore, the book explores advanced topics like error handling, performance tuning and secure scripts.

The book concludes with a quick reference to PHP’s core functions and standard extensions.

All in all, Programming PHP is an excellent addition to your reading list. If you know some of the basics of PHP, this book will help you take your knowledge to the next level.

  • Originally Published- 2020
  • Author- Kevin Tatroe, Peter MacIntyre

You can buy this book here.

5. Modern PHP

Modern PHP New Features and Good Practices

Description: “Modern PHP” is a must-read for all PHP programmers wanting to update themselves with the latest features and also take their expertise to the next level. The book has an overview of all the things a developer needs from PHP.

The book covers a wide range of topics, from the installation and configuration of PHP to testing, debugging, profiling, and much more. You can also count on the book to get insights into some of the latest features of PHP and also the best practices. With only 270 pages in print, a seasoned programmer could brush up on their knowledge of PHP in a week or so.

The book is for intermediate-to-advanced PHP developers. Also, it is an excellent choice for someone who has been away from PHP for a while and just wants to refresh their memory.

  • Originally Published- 2015
  • Author- Josh Lockhart

You can buy this book here.

6. PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual (2nd Edition)

PHP & MySQL The Missing Manual, 2e

Description: This book is an excellent choice for a beginning PHP programmer. It explains the basics in detail, which helps a complete novice understand concepts better. There are ample examples as well to practice what’s taught in the chapters.

The author takes a unique approach to teaching. He proposes imperfect scripts at the beginning of each chapter and then improves them later on. The right version arrives by the end of the chapter. This is what makes the book different from others, as you learn while doing that too, in a unique way. Do you still wonder why it is one of the best PHP books out there?

The only issue with the book is that it was first printed over nine years ago. A lot has changed in PHP since then. Yet, we recommend the book as it provides comprehensive information on PHP and MySQL.

  • Originally Published- 2012
  • Author- Brett McLaughlin

You can buy this book here.

7. PHP and MySQL Web Development

PHP and MySQL Web Development

Description: “PHP and MySQL Web Development” covers the basics of PHP and some advanced topics as well. Even if you are a complete newbie to PHP, this book will ease you into it. The concepts are explained lucidly and efficiently, and you’ll feel comfortable with PHP after finishing this book.

This is a hands-on book that covers aspects of security and authentication while building real-world websites. The authors also introduce readers to the integration of front-end and back-end technologies by using Javascript.

Even some of the advanced PHP techniques like internationalization and localization are elaborately explained. Moreover, purchasing the book in any format, electronic or print, includes free access to the web edition. That would aid quicker learning.

  • Originally Published- 2016
  • Author- Luke Welling, Laura Thomson

You can buy this book here.

8. PHP and MySQL Novice to Ninja (Fifth Edition)

PHP & MySQL Novice to Ninja The Easy Way to Build Your Own Database Driven Website

Description: If you want to start with PHP as early as possible, then “PHP and MySQL Novice to Ninja” is for you. If you have some prior programming experience, it will quickly get you up and running on PHP.

The book elaborates on PHP basics but only scratches the surface when dealing with MySQL. The book integrates PHP and MySQL to help understand how things work. The author uses a single working example to explain concepts. As the book progresses and newer concepts are introduced, the author describes how to incorporate the concept into the same example.

The book also teaches the right way to structure code in a conversational style. By the end of this book, you will have created a complete database and interface system through PHP coding.

  • Originally Published- 2012
  • Author- Kevin Yank

You can buy this book here.

9. The Joy of PHP: A Beginner’s Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL

The Joy of PHP A Beginner's Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and mySQL

Description: This is a practical guide to PHP that teaches the language in a hands-on way. It explains the basics of PHP in an easy-to-read manner and, hence, is an excellent choice for beginners. It elaborates on what PHP programming is before moving to other topics.

The book provides the entire code before starting a chapter and then explains it line by line. If you are a beginner, learning PHP may seem like a daunting task in itself, but this is one of the rare books that demonstrates PHP can be easy for a beginner as well.

This is the first part of a two-part series by the same author on PHP. It is primarily for beginners, while the other one in the series is for more advanced learners.

  • Originally Published- 2012
  • Author- Alan Forbes

You can buy this book here.

10. PHP: Learn PHP in One Day and Learn It Well

PHP Learn PHP in One Day and Learn It Well. PHP for Beginners with Hands-on Project. (Learn Coding Fast with Hands-On Project Book 6)

Description: While you won’t learn PHP in one day, as the book’s title says, you can learn it with this book. This is one of the best PHP books for beginners. The book teaches the basics of PHP through hands-on projects. The contents are presented in a simple and learner-friendly way, ensuring no fluff is added over the length of its 206 pages in print.

If you are aware of other books by Jamie Chan, this book follows the same presentation style. It’s short, crisp, and informative. The book can be a step-by-step guide for a complete beginner as well as a quick revisit for someone who has been away from PHP for a while.

  • Originally Published- 2020
  • Author- Jamie Chan

You can buy this book here.


The best PHP books discussed above would help you get started with PHP and gain proficiency in it. Also, it can jog your memory of PHP if that’s what you are looking for. Whatever your intention, this list is sufficient for all your needs. What do you think about the list? Did we miss any of your favourites? Do let us know in the comments section.

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