The 10 Best Books to Learn Java


Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and millions of Java developers have been able to earn a livelihood from it. So, it makes sense that you’d wish to learn Java programming. One of the ways to get started is by reading the best Java books available. 

In this article, we’ll offer tips for selecting good programming books, before listing some of the best books to learn Java. For each text, we’ll find out who it is best suited for to help you avoid picking a book that doesn’t cater to your needs. Besides reviewing the best books for Java, we’ll also learn why it is worth learning Java today and answer a few Java-related questions. Let’s dive in.

How Can I Choose the Best Books for Java Developers?

You can choose the best books for Java development by first determining your current level of programming experience. Look for books with relevant topics that suit your existing knowledge of programming and your coding style. You can also read reviews of books on the web to find out the most recommended books for you.

Your goal is to eventually become a programmer that grasps the most important concepts of the Java programming language. This means that you should set yourself up for success by selecting a reference book that caters to your needs and programming experience. Below, we’ll cover some effective tips for selecting great programming books.

Tips for Choosing the Best Java Books

  • Determine your Java programming knowledge. If you’re learning Java from scratch, you’ll need a book for beginners that introduces core Java design principles. However, if you’re a Java expert, you’ll need a mastery book that advances your knowledge of a specific topic.
  • Read the table of contents or the index. Before investing your time and money into a book, make sure it covers the topics you need. Since Java 8, the scripting language has grown significantly, so you need to find out whether the topics discussed will add value to you.
  • Read online book reviews. Look for effective Java training content by checking online book reviews. Amazon, Google Books, and Goodreads collect public book reviews that give a good perspective on a book’s qualities and suggest whether it’s worth the investment. Books that are rated highly by many readers are likely to meet your needs. 
  • Ask an expert Java developer to recommend a book. Experts can have a good perspective on what you need to learn, based on a little information regarding your experience. They’ll recommend personal favorites that helped them grow. Reach experts through social media platforms where they’re active to get a quick response. 
  • Ask for recommendations from forums. There are numerous platforms where programmers collaborate. StackOverflow, Reddit, and the Official Java Oracle site, have forums dedicated to Java developers. You can ask members for recommendations to help you choose books with practical guides you can follow to learn.

The 10 Best Java Books: An Overview

Name Publisher Topics Covered
Beginning Programming With Java for Dummies For Dummies Object-oriented programming, IntelliJ IDEA, loops, branches, and collections
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship Pearson Writing clean code, cleaning up code, unit testing, and test-driven development
Core Java, Volume I: Fundamentals Oracle Press Fundamental programming structures in Java, generic programming, Java collections framework
Effective Java Addison-Wesley Professional Features added in Java 7 to 9, try-with-resources statement, lambdas and streams
Head First Java O’Reilly Media Threads, network sockets, and distributed programming with RMI
Java 8 in Action: Lambdas, Streams, and Functional‑style Programming Manning Publications Lambdas, streams, and functional-style programming
Java Concurrency in Practice Addison-Wesley Professional Structuring, creating, and testing concurrent applications, building custom synchronizers, Java memory model
Java: A Beginner’s Guide McGraw Hill Java programming basics, multithreaded programming, enumeration, modules, and interface methods
Learn Java in One Day and Learn It Well Learn Coding Fast Introduction to Java, data types and operators, object-oriented programming
Thinking in Java Pearson Fundamentals of Java programming, database integration, Swing GUI development

The 10 Best Java Books: A Closer Look

Above, we listed some of the best Java programming books on the market. All these books have been highly rated by hundreds of reviewers on review sites, such as Google Books and Goodreads. 

1. Beginning Programming With Java for Dummies

  • Author: Barry A. Burd
  • Best for: Beginners

This Java programming book can easily show you how to create Java programs, put the pieces together, and deal with programming challenges making it a must-have book. Whether you are playing around or embarking on a career as a developer, Burd will help you understand the nuances of Java and guide you through until you start programming with Java like a pro.

2. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

  • Author: Robert C. Martin
  • Best for: Practitioners

Martin presents an outstanding approach to learning Java from a practitioner’s point of view. He covers the best Agile practices for cleaning code with great craftsmanship, plus presenting challenges that will make you question your commitment to learning programming. The book is a must for any aspiring programmer with an interest in high-code-quality programming.

3. Core Java, Volume I: Fundamentals

  • Author: Cay S. Horstmann
  • Best for: Experienced Programmers 

Core Java is a conclusive guide to writing maintainable code. It’s packed with realistic examples and it goes deep into fundamental Java, generic programming, Java standard collections, and UI programming, among other complex topics. If you are an experienced programmer adopting Java SE 9,10, or 11, this book is the most convenient guide to use.

4. Effective Java

  • Author: Joshua Bloch
  • Best for: Every Programmer

Joshua Bloch is a leading Java programmer who worked as a software engineer in both Sun Microsystems and Google. In this book, he explores new designs and language idioms introduced after Java SE 6, and selected features from Java 9. Joshua provides updated techniques, best practices, and ways to avoid pitfalls, and dives into the most fundamental Java libraries.

5. Head First Java

  • Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, Trisha Gee
  • Best for: Seasoned programmers

If you’re looking forward to Java mastery, this engaging book will get you there fast. Head First Java is a particularly interesting book packed with puzzles, mysteries, strong visuals, and interviews with Java programmers to make you engage in many ways. 

Head First Java offers a complete introduction to object oriented design principles and the fundamentals of Java programming. The third edition also comes with Java language and development platform updates. 

6. Java 8 in Action: Lambdas, Streams, and Functional‑style Programming

  • Author: Raoul-Gabriel Urma, Mario Fusco, Alan Mycroft 
  • Best for: Seasoned programmers

Java 8 in Action is a guide on the new features introduced in Java SE 8. The book introduces lambdas using practical examples, then covers Streams API and explains how to use it to make collection-based code, before diving into Java SE 8 features. 

If you want to learn how to write more concise code, and you are familiar with Java and basic object-oriented programming, the simple language used for each detailed explanation should make it an excellent resource.

7. Java Concurrency in Practice

  • Author: Brian Goetz, Tim Peierls, Joshua Bloch, Joseph Bowbeer, David Holmes, Doug Lea
  • Best for: Experienced developers

This book offers a theoretical foundation for a better understanding of concurrency utilities and effective techniques for building concurrent applications that are stable, extensible, and sustainable. Besides providing a reference point for concurrent mechanisms and Java API, it comes with design pattern rules and mental models.

8. Java: A Beginner’s Guide

  • Author: Herbert Schildt
  • Best for: Beginners

Exhaustively updated for Java SE 11, this book gets you started with Java programming. Schildt designed the book for complete beginners to easily create, compile, and run effective Java programs. With a perfect mix of theory, code examples, and practical coding guidelines from basic concepts to advanced topics, its teaching style will resonate with any level of programmer.

9. Learn Java in One Day and Learn It Well

  • Author: Jamie Chan
  • Best for: Beginners

This practical guide will help you become a Java software developer in one day. This must-read book attempts to equip you with strong knowledge of Java in the shortest time possible. It comes with well-selected topics, concrete explanations, and carefully chosen hands-on examples, to steer your learning journey from a beginner’s experience level to mastery.

10. Thinking in Java

  • Author: Bruce Eckel
  • Best for: Experienced developers

Thinking in Java is Eckel’s take on the essence of Java as a new programming language. It outlines language features while including extensive source codes, including a complete reference of all Java operators, in one sample code. The text then explores class design issues, Java collection classes exception handling, swing interface classes, and network programming. If you’re an object-oriented developer, this book is a must-have. 

Alternative Ways to Learn Java

Besides using books to learn Java, you can make use of additional resources. For instance, you can attend Java programming bootcamps that provide an intensive and accelerated learning experience for a faster understanding of Java. 

Meanwhile, some people prefer courses over books because they understand better through video tutorials. Free YouTube tutorials from experts can also suffice in giving you a good introduction to programming, and you can find Java courses from massive open online course providers, like Udemy and edX.

Is Learning Java Worth It?

Yes, learning Java is worth it, since it’s a versatile and relatively easy-to-learn programming language when compared to the C languages. It is also universally adopted which means you’ll have access to unlimited opportunities if you’re well versed in Java. Java can be used in a wide array of projects from web apps to video games. 

Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers, including Java developers, will experience a 22 percent job growth between 2020 and 2030. Lastly, the average Java developer earns around $78,000 per year, according to PayScale, making it a lucrative career option.

Best Java Books FAQ

Is Java easy or tough?

Java is easy as a beginner-friendly programming language, when compared to others such as C++, Prolog, and Rust. Hence, it’s not too hard to learn Java, and anyone can acquire a basic understanding of the core principles within a short time. However, to achieve mastery, you might have to dedicate yourself to years of coding.

Should I choose Java or Python?

You should choose Java for web and desktop applications and Python for data science and the development of machine learning applications, generally. However, Java and Python are both high-level, widely-adopted, general-purpose coding languages. So, depending on what your career goals and project aims are, you can select either.

How many days will it take to learn Java?

For beginners with no previous programming experience, it will take around nine months to grasp Java programming fundamentals and be able to code standard programs. For those with some experience, especially from dealing with other coding languages, it will take less than six months, depending on how much time you dedicate to learning and practicing.

Who earns more, Java developers or Python developers?

Generally, a Python developer earns an annual average salary of $102,008, while a Java developer earns $114,912 per year, according to Ziprecruiter. That’s a noticeable difference but generally, the two professions fall within the same wage scale depending on the hiring company.

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