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Top 5 Coding Books for Beginners

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“Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program.” -Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel

Looking for some reading around your coding course, or to continue your learning away from the computer screen?

We’ve put together a list of the very best 5 introductory books to coding. This is great for people who aren’t too into the tech space at the moment but would like to learn more about what it is and why before they dive in or are a beginner in the space and looking to read around the subject as they study.

We’ve chosen key introductory texts that discuss every element of programming from soft skills to best coding practices. Although some of these texts reference particular languages more than others, we’ve made sure that the suggestions and guidance in all of these books can be applied to any language and used for any type of coding.

1. "Zero Bugs: And Program Faster" by Kate Thompson

As the name might suggest, this book is about coding without making mistakes or ‘bugs’ as programmers call them. It essentially works by outlining all the mistakes you are likely to make in your first few forays into coding and working professionally and outlines their solution so you not only understand what to look out for on your journey to becoming a fully-fledged programmer but also how to overcome it.

Zero Bugs fast tracks your learning by not having to discover common coding mistakes the hard way - by making them yourself - ensuring you don't lose morale and allowing you to get down to the fun stuff more quickly.

Please note, however, that mistakes are often made on the way to learning to code and will continue to occur throughout your career as a programmer - as will ‘bugs’ - so don’t be discouraged if this book does not solve all your problems straight away!

2. "The Self-Taught Programmer: The Definitive Guide to Programming Professionally" by Cory Althoff

Where Code Labs Academy students will have the benefit of structured teaching, career services and live learning assistance, it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from those who haven’t had access to these things. Written by a self-taught programmer in reflection of what he didn’t know when landing his first professional position in big tech, but wish someone had told him, The Self-Taught Programmer is a ‘must read’ for anyone stepping into their first programming role.

Covering not only coding techniques (Python focused), but also softer skills otherwise learned on the way to becoming a fully-fledged professional programmer such as; what to expect from the infamous technical interview, tips for working in a coding team within a business, and best coding practices, it will set you up to confidently hit the ground running for your first job in tech.

3. "Clean Code" by Robert Martin

Landing your first job in tech is not just about knowing how to code - although that is a very important essential skill! It is also about knowing when and how to communicate your ideas to technical and non-technical audiences alike.

Clean Code focuses on essential communication skills for programmers that will allow you to not only succeed in your first role but thrive and go beyond it into the wider field of professional coding for true collaborative craftsmanship.

This book will support your professional development as a programmer by guiding you through; writer's block (how to get into the coding flow), navigating pressure and tight deadlines, managing your time as a programmer and fostering environments that get the best out of you and your fellow programmers.

Soft skills are just as important as hard code learning in your first technical job role, especially if you’re stepping into a business environment that you may have not otherwise been exposed to in your previous career or experience. Specifically tailored reading like this is the key to learning what you don't know so that you will be prepared with what is expected from you.

4. "Working Effectively with Legacy Code" by Michael Feathers

One of the major elements of professional programming is adding to, editing and improving code to meet new user experience and legislative requirements, among other company needs. The code and who is writing it are constantly changing, especially if you choose to join a larger organisation once you graduate. This means you will find yourself working with code that you haven’t written and often where the original writer has left the business or is no longer available to contact to ask questions. This is referred to as ‘legacy code’.

This book is full of practical advice on how to make functional changes to existing code and test your code without making changes to what your user is seeing accidentally.

Working Effectively with Legacy Code is aimed at beginners, but the author occasionally assumes the reader has some knowledge of MUL notation.

5. "The Pragmatic Programmer: Your Journey to Mastery" by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

The subjects covered in The Pragmatic Programmer are broad but no less valuable for being so. Writing about everything from the core process of programming to its honourable goal (spoiler: is to delight the user), and the importance of keeping your code flexible, this is a solid foundation for what it means to be a modern programmer.

This book is written as a reference guide, with self-contained sections to revisit as and when they are needed throughout your programming journey so it’s particularly excellent for those pockets of time where you’re not able to engage in deep coding or problem-solving, but still want to engage with something productive.

It is also designed to provide you with teaching that is handy to know whether you’re a new start in the programming world or already an experienced programming manager. So if you’ve already established yourself as a coding professional but are looking to brush up on your skills, this one's for you.

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