10 Best Programming Books

If you believe that the golden age of programming books is well behind us, it’s time to think again. The variety of resources available online would leave you delusional.

Programming needs an update every few years, which makes books go obsolete quickly. However, some books have stood the test of time. Some of them have been in print for decades and are still selling like hotcakes due to the value they bring to the table.

Best Programming Books

Here’s a list of the top 10 programming books that every programmer must read once.

1. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Design Patterns Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Description: It’s a classic in object-oriented programming (OOP). But why is it on the list of the best programming books? Well, it was first published 27 years ago and is still relevant and going from strength to strength. In the world of programming where books become obsolete in a couple of years, that’s quite an achievement.

It is a challenging book for almost everyone, requiring a certain level of sophistication as a programmer. Also, word choice involves familiarity with the language. The authors assume that you are well-versed in programming. If the age of the book doesn’t bother you, you can feast on the book’s excellent progression. A lengthy introduction before the patterns helps put forth the context before teaching the actual design patterns.

  • Originally Published: 1994
  • Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides, Grady Booch

You can buy this book here.

2. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

Pragmatic Programmer, The From Journeyman to Master

Description: Here comes one of the best books for computer engineers.

The underlying principle of the book is to ease you into the world of programming. While developers of any level will find it helpful, a newbie or a mid-level developer looking to transition to senior level will extract the most out of this book. It will provide the necessary pathway for them.

It’s an easy-to-read book designed to help you become a better programmer. You mayconsider this as a self-help resource, which comes across as one of the best books for programmers.

  • Originally Published: 1999
  • Author: Andrew Hunt, David Thomas

You can buy this book here.

3. Programming Pearls

Programming Pearls

Description: This book offers initiatives on how to start the thought process with algorithms and data structures. Also, it provides valuable tips and common traps to avoid. The book complements the algorithm textbooks and coding interview questions.

The book comprises 15 chapters, each beginning with a practical problem. Next, solutions to the problems are provided for stickier learning. The solutions are used as lessons, which makes it one of the best software engineering books available in the market.

The book doesn’t aim to teach something new but encourages readers to think hard before starting to write code. Even the provided exercises take a few hours to solve as the author wants you to think of solutions. Obviously, that would help change your perception of programming.

  • Originally Published:1986
  • Author: Jon Bentley

You can buy this book here.

4. The Art of Computer Programming

Fundamental Algorithms (v. 1) (The Art of Computer Programming)

Description: This is a four-book series written in 1968 by Donald Knuth, the ‘father of analysis algorithms’. Bill Gates famously said, “If you think you’re a really good programmer, read (Knuth’s) Art of Computer Programming. You should send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing”. The quote is printed on the cover of the third edition of the first volume.

By no stretch of the imagination is this an easy read. When going through it, you dive deep into the Math and Science of programming. That’s why some even call it the Bible of fundamental algorithms, which underlines its status as one of the best books for software engineers out there. However, if you’re intimidated by the heavy use of mathematics, this book is not for you.

  • Originally Published: 1968
  • Author: Donald Knuth

You can buy this book here.

5. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean Code A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Description: As the name says, the book is about writing clean codes. Even though a poorly written code may still work, a clean code is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The book is Java and OOP-oriented, so you must have a basic knowledge of them to extract the most out of it. The book is divided into three sections. The first section is about patterns, principles, and practices for writing a clean code. The second section consists of various case studies that require cleaning, i.e. transforming an ordinary code into an efficient one. In the book’s final section, you will come across a list of heuristics and ‘smells’ gathered while creating the case studies.

  • Originally Published:2008
  • Author: Robert Cecil Martin

You can buy this book here.

6. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

Description: It introduces CS essentials engagingly and practically. So, if you are a CS graduate, you should go through this classic. In fact, it is one of the introductory courses of programming at MIT. The MIT website also distributes this book for free. So, those seeking free computer books now know where to look.

Structure and Interpretations of Computer Programs (SICP) is one of the coveted programming books for beginners. Still, it is advisable to get your hands on it after completing one or two languages. It is not an easy read, but the challenge the book throws at you is worth it. It’s a must-read for any programmer wanting to get intimate with the underlying principles of programming.

  • Originally Published:1985
  • Author: Gerald Jay Sussman, Hal Abelson

You can buy this book here.

7. Introduction to Algorithms

Algorithms A Creative Approach

Description: The name, Introduction to Algorithms, is self-explanatory. It’s all about algorithms. If proof-based mathematics is not your strong suit, you might have trouble going through the book as the book makes heavy use of the same. Despite that, it comes across as one of the coveted coding books out there.

You cannot afford to skip the introduction part as it carries insight into what’s ahead in the book. With over 1200 pages, this is not a light read, but the chapters are of reasonable length. All the discussed algorithms are explained well.

The authors present the algorithms using pseudocode to ensure quicker learning. The pseudocode has a lot of one-letter variable names. While it follows the tradition of pure math, the book also makes understanding the algorithms more difficult than it should be.

  • Originally Published:1989
  • Authors: Thomas H Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald Rivest, Clifford Stein

You can buy this book here.

8. The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers

Clean Coder, The A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers (Robert C. Martin Series)

Description: The book aims to help the reader to evolve into an excellent professional. The anecdotal writing style makes this an engaging read. In some chapters, you come across stories from the author’s life, which gives great insight into a newbie looking to make a career in programming. The book is full of practical advice for programmers.

Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t preachy and doesn’t bore you with jargon. Reading the book feels more like an elder brother guiding his younger brother into the world of programming and coding. That’s what places it among the top programming books available in the market.

  • Originally Published: 2011
  • Author: Robert C Martin

You can buy this book here.

9. Code Complete

Code Complete (Microsoft Programming) by Steve McConnell

Description: Steve McConnell’s Code Complete has been widely considered as one of the best practical guides to programming. You can call it a comprehensive study of software construction. McConnell regards construction as the most crucial aspect of software and dedicates a massive chunk of the book to it.

It contains dedicated chapters for every aspect of construction, which would help fill a lot of gaps in your knowledge. By the end of this book, you’ll be able to develop software, reduce error and also benefit from collaborative development. You can prefer to keep a copy of this book with you as it will come in handy in your coding and programming career.

  • Originally Published: 1993
  • Author: Steve McConnell

You can buy this book here.

10. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code

Refactoring Improving the Design of Existing Code

Description: Refactoring is an essential aspect of coding. It is what separates a good piece of code from a great one. This book helps you understand refactoring in an organized way. If you’re a young developer just starting, this book is tailor-made for you.

The examples in the book are excellent case studies for how to refactor bits of code. The book contains examples for a better understanding of concepts. Only the first few chapters include theory. The latest edition also covers some of the new refactorings like Split Phase. It’s one of those programming books that you can keep on your shelves and re-read every once in a while.

  • Originally Published: 1999
  • Authors: Martin Fowler, Kent Beck

You can buy this book here.


So, that was our list of the top programming books. If you are a newbie looking to make a career in programming and coding, we would recommend buying all of the above books. Stock them up, read and re-read them periodically. Even if you have been in the profession for years, reading these books is still recommended to get to the next level.

What do you think about the list? Did we miss any books? Do tell us in the comments.


Q.1 What is programming?

Ans. Programming is writing codes on the system that the machine will understand and respond accordingly.

Q.2 How many programming languages are there?

Ans. There are various programming languages such as C, C++, JavaScript, Java, Python, CSS, HTML, HTML5, React, etc.

Q.3 How can I learn programming?

Ans. There are several ways to learn programming. You can take online as well as offline classes.

Q.4 Are books a good way to learn programming?

Ans. Yes. There are some incredible books for programming that can help you gain expertise on this subject.

Q.5 Can I learn programming online?

Ans. Yes. It is one of the most easiest and convenient ways to learn programming.

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