When it comes to learning JavaScript, I’m occasionally asked what books I recommend. Some of these come from those who are just getting into the language; others come from people who have been programming for sometime.

For whatever it’s worth, I don’t consider myself an expert in JavaScript, though I really do like working with the language. I also love seeing its adoption over the web, and some of the technologies that have emerged that make it possible to write both client-side and server-side applications.

Anyway, so when it comes to JavaScript, there are two books that I always recommend to both beginners and novice programmers alike.

Recommended JavaScript Books

JavaScript is an interesting language with a weird history. Though this isn’t the post to dive into it, you can read all about it on Wikipedia (and if you’re going to be using the language, I recommend knowing some of how it has evolved over time).

Oh, and just to note, none of the links below are affiliate links.

Head First JavaScript

Head First JavaScript

Head First JavaScript

Head First JavaScript is a fantastic book specifically for those who are beginner programmers or who are just starting out with dynamic languages, C-style languages, or JavaScript in general.

It’ll take you from knowing nothing to knowing not only how to write vanilla JavaScript, but also how to do basic DOM manipulation.

If you’re used to working with jQuery (or any other library) in some capacity, then this will help shed light on how those particular libraries do what they do.

You’ll also have a much clearer understanding of some of the syntax that other libraries use, and how you can implement similar functionality (such as chaining) in your own work.

Note that this isn’t a reference book – it’s better read cover-to-cover.

JavaScript: The Good Parts

JavaScript: The Good Parts

JavaScript: The Good Parts

JavaScript The Good Parts is my personal favorite JavaScript book. In fact, this is the book that practically solidified the language for me.

It’s written in such a way that it walks you through what you should be using and what you shouldn’t be using. It takes a straight forward, no-nonsense approach to writing JavaScript with examples of how to do something the correct way, versus simply taking a way that works within the language.

Not only does it provide solid alternatives, it also diagrams how various features in the language work, features that are considered bad (or even evil), why they are considered as such, and ways to write clean, maintainable JavaScript.

Where Do I Start?

If you’re a beginner, start with Head First and read both, but if you’re a more experienced developer or are comfortable with JavaScript, but aren’t sure what are some best practices and what are things to avoid, then check out The Good Parts.

I can honestly say that I consider The Good Parts to be the equivalent to JavaScript what the K&R book was to C.

I can’t say if these two books will turn you into a JavaScript expert, but I do believe they will take you leaps and bounds ahead.

Finally, I consider these two books to be the best on the language that I’ve found thus far, but if you’ve got your own suggestions, please link ’em up in the comments.

It’d be nice to have a list of the various JavaScript books we all like.

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Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. The Head First books are always my first stop for reading material when I want to learn a new language or really understand what I’m writing. The way they hit all forms of learning and do it in a fun way is awesome.

  2. I really like this learning program : http://javascriptissexy.com/how-to-learn-javascript-properly/

    The recommended book is also excellent.
    I haven’t read the Good Parts yet, everyone seems to recommend it, but not sure it’s for beginners..

  3. Object Oriented Javascript by Stoyan Stefanov is also a good book.
    With examples for every concept.

  4. well, everybody have different choices. For me all the books above mentioned above are great.

    BUT

    according to me this scores the goal : http://javascriptbook.com/ (link for book)

  5. The Good Parts is NOT a book for beginners. Its the author mentions it specifically in the Preface.

    • This is true, though I never said it was for beginners.

      I compared it to the K&R book which is like the definitive guide for C and it pre-supposes a bit about one’s understanding of computing.

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