If you spend any time learning to code, you’ll eventually run into the Python programming language. It’s one of the great programming language success stories, having spread into spaces as diverse as back end web development and web applications, data visualizations, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics. You could spend a lifetime programming in Python. But in order to do that, you’ll have to actually get started, so we’ve gathered just the list of the best books to learn Python code.
How Can I Learn Coding From the Best Python Books?
There are plenty of advantages to using books to learn Python programming. Books are easy to carry around, you can take notes directly in them, and they make it difficult to get distracted. But you have to remember that coding can’t be done passively any more than dancing can. I’m sure professional dancers read books about dancing, but they also get up and move.
So the most important thing to remember, if you’re going to learn coding from books, is to make sure that you’re actually producing code step by step. Inevitably, you’ll type something from the book wrong and have to track down your mistake. Speaking from experience, this debugging process is a huge fraction of what programmers do all day. Indeed, it’s a valuable skill.
You should also try to extend and modify whatever code you get from the book. This adds tremendous value to the learning experience, not least because it’ll teach you to start thinking creatively about what you’re trying to achieve and how to do it with code.
After you’ve done this for a little while, consider using the code in the book as a source of ideas for your own projects. Once you’ve gotten used to tracking down bugs and modifying other people’s code, the next step in becoming an experienced Python programmer is to build your own small projects.
For example, you could build your own game. Or you could modify an existing game; deck it out with new characters, new worlds, and a different code structure. Once you’ve got something that works, try refactoring anything repetitive into functions, then grouping the functions together into classes.
This will give you practice with such important programming topics as data structures, modularity, and object oriented programming. Don’t worry if you don’t get very far with these attempts; the point is to learn!
The 7 Best Python Books
1. Learn Python the Hard Way, Zed Shaw
In Learn Python the Hard Way, Zed Shaw knows you can only learn to code by writing lots of code. That’s what he means by ‘the hard way.’ You’ll find plenty of hands-on projects in this popular introduction to Python.
2. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, Al Sweigart
Building simple games is such a common way to get into coding that Python books teaching you how to code a game are practically a genre by themselves. This book is a highly-recommended way to get a Python crash course by creating games you’ll actually have fun playing.
3. Think Python, Allen B. Downey
Think Python is aimed at upper-beginners or intermediate programmers and strives to teach you how to think about coding in a general way. It’s a hands-on guide that takes students through Python step by step.
4. Python for Data Analysis, Wes McKinney
5. Python Cookbook, David Beazley and Brian K. Jones
Python Cookbook covers Python development from the perspective of experienced coders wanting to write more idiomatic Python. It contains a variety of time-tested Python recipes from numerous application domains that you can use to quickly move your projects along.
6. Head First Python, Paul Barry
Head First Python aims to be the most effective possible launchpad for new Python programmers. After covering the language fundamentals, it quickly moves onto more advanced topics like exception handling and building mobile apps for android. In short, it’s definitely a great read and easily one of the best books on Python available.
7. Fluent Python, Luciano Ramalho
Once you’ve ingested the above, you’ll be ready for a serious, next-level look at the language. I learned quite a lot from Fluent Python, about both Python and programming languages in general.
The Complete List
- Learn Python the Hard Way, Zed Shaw
- Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, Al Sweigart
- Think Python, Allen B. Downey
- Python for Data Analysis, Wes McKinney
- Python Cookbook, David Beazley and Brian K. Jones
- Head First Python, Paul Barry
- Fluent Python, Luciano Ramalho
With these Python books completed, you’ll truly be ready to call yourself a Pythonista!