Here’s a selection of the best Python books for aspiring Python programmers, seasoned Pythonists, and kids, with peer-reviewed reviews.
Python is a very efficient and friendly programming language. In this article, you will find 13 of the best Python books for programmers of all skill levels. There are even two books for children!
It doesn’t matter which book you read first. The second is always more important.
If you get stuck reading one of the books in our collection, don’t give up. Get another one, search the internet, ask on the forum, or just take a break.
7 best Python books for beginners
These books are intended for those new to programming, for whom Python was the first language. They start with the basics, general concepts and do not require any initial knowledge.
Python Crash Course, Eric Matthes
The book begins with a step-by-step guide to the basic Python elements and data structures. All topics are discussed in detail: from variables to code testing.
In the second half of the book, the reader will work on three major projects, creating useful and fun applications.
The first project is an alien invasion game developed using the pygame package. You will design a ship, create an alien fleet and learn how to fight space invaders.
In the second project, you will learn how to work with matplotlilb: load data in various formats, visualize results as graphs and charts, interact with the web API, and retrieve information from GitHub and HackerNews.
The third project is creating a full-fledged web application in Django with an admin panel and user access control.
Head-First Python, Paul Barry
The unique approach of the Head First series – small self-contained chapters rich in clear illustrations, examples, and additional facts – makes this book incredibly enjoyable and easy to read.
Throughout the book, you will piece by piece build a dynamic website in Python and CGI, and then an Android application. You will learn how to handle user input, deploy and scale your project.
Although this book is not as comprehensive as some others, it covers a wide range of tasks and explains them in accessible language. If you are just starting to dive into the world of programming and are not yet accustomed to the dry language of most tutorials, the Head First series is for you. Reading it, you will definitely not get bored.
Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, Al Sweigart
If you love games and dream of creating them, then you should definitely pay attention to this book. She will teach you the basics of Python programming and help you create some classic games: Guess, Dragon’s Realm, Hangman, Reversi, Sonar, and of course Tic Tac Toe.
In the process, you will learn in practice how to work with various types of data and their transformations, lists, program flow, scopes, functions and conditional operators, get acquainted with cryptography and even artificial intelligence.
In the book, you will learn how to animate graphics, detect collisions, use sounds, images, and sprites. The wonderful PyGame library will help with this.
Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, Allen B. Downey
If making computer games is too frivolous for you, take this book. Her approach is much more serious, because the author sets himself the task of teaching you to think like a programmer.
The book is written more dryly than the previous ones, and has a classic linear structure. The basics of Python programming are laid out in a simple and straightforward language. Some of the advanced areas are fairly sketchy (the book is still for beginners), but there are many topics that are not covered in other tutorials, such as algorithm analysis, mutability, and polymorphism.
The latest edition (2015) has more hands-on exercises, but overall it focuses on a deep understanding of theory.
Effective Computation in Physics: Field Guide to Research with Python, Anthony Scopatz, Kathryn D. Huff
The title sounds intimidating enough, but it is nonetheless one of the best Python books for people with no background in physics and computational research.
The book is divided into four sections:
- Getting Started – All the information you need to get started.
- Getting it Done – working with data: basic libraries , regular expressions, structures and information storage.
- Getting it Right – the most common mistakes and ways to avoid them, debugging, testing, and working with Git and Github.
- Getting it Out There – effective interaction with code consumers: markup languages, teamwork, software licenses.
Learn Python 3 the Hard Way, Zed A. Shaw
Don’t let the name scare you off. In the long run, the “hard road” will be easy, because it shows you from the start how things really are in programming.
Enter all the code yourself, do all the exercises, look for your solution for each problem – this is the only sure way to success. After completing this guide, you won’t be a beginner anymore.
The content of the book is excellent: clear chapters, concise and understandable code examples, more than 50 exercises , each of which builds on the previous one.
Of all the books in this collection, The Hard Way has the most mixed reviews. The Stack Overflow community notes that its readers sometimes ask meaningless questions on the forum, due to the peculiarities of the presentation. And yet it ranks among the best Python books.
Real Python Course, Real Python Team
The book consists of explanations, code examples and exercises to immediately apply and consolidate the knowledge gained.
The guide is focused on a hands-on approach. It deeply and clearly describes the basics of the language, but also covers the more complex and advanced features of Python. You will learn how to process PDFs, use SQL, parse web pages, perform complex calculations with numpy and matplotlib, create graphical interfaces.
A selection of the best Python books for kids
The next two books are for children ages 9-10 (or older). Of course, they cannot be simply given to the child and sent to study, but they are ideal for joint activities with parents.
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming, Jason R. Briggs
This fun book is suitable for beginners of all ages. This is a clear, simple, well-illustrated introduction to Python programming with great examples.
After installing and understanding the basic concepts, you will start working with graphics in the Python turtle library, a popular platform for teaching children to program.
After the theoretical part, two fun projects begin. The first is Bounce, a single-player version of Pong . It integrates the knowledge gained about functions, classes, thread of execution, creating interfaces with tkinter, performing geometric calculations, and using event bindings to create interactivity.
The second project is a little more complex and deeper – the video game Mr. Stickman Races for the Exit.
You will love this book if you are looking for a fun, accessible introduction to programming and Python in particular.
This book is similar to the previous one, but it is intended more for adults who themselves learn to program with their child.
It differs from most introductory tutorials in its use of color and a large number of illustrations. The explanations here are not so deep, but quite understandable and sufficient to get started.
It all starts with the basics of the language and the “turtle”. Each concept learned is immediately applied in the created graphics and it becomes more and more complex. You will create some fun games and a simple graphics editor. The book has a lot of tasks and great summaries at the end of each chapter. By the end of this tutorial, you will have all the Python tools you need to create complete games.
A selection of the best Python books for intermediate to advanced levels
Python has a low threshold for entry, so beginners often have the misconception that the language’s capabilities are limited, or that it’s not necessary to use best practices and good coding style.
Realizing a language takes practice. By learning what is happening “under the hood”, you will learn how to program much more efficiently.
The books in this section will give you a deeper understanding of Python concepts and teach you how to code beautifully.
Please note, these books are not for beginners. They do not talk about variables and loops, but go straight to complex concepts, so they will be useful for continuing pythonists.
Throughout this book, you will find many little-known features and guidelines for a deeper understanding of Python. Each of the 43 sections is an independent description of a separate concept – a trick – with discussion, code examples, and conclusions.
The content of the book is a buffet where you can taste any dish you like.
The book comes with 12 great bonus videos, each about 11 minutes long.
Fluent Python: Clear, Concise, and Effective Programming, Luciano Ramalho
This book was created for experienced Python 2 programmers looking to migrate to Python 3 . It is ideal for experienced pythonists looking to take it to the next level.
It is also a great reference for experienced programmers in other languages who want to see how a concept is implemented in Python.
The book has six sections, each of which can be read independently of the others:
- Prolog describes the object-oriented nature of the language and methods for maintaining library consistency;
- Data structures cover sequences, collations, sets, and explain the difference between str and bytes;
- Functions as Objects – a story about functions as first-class objects in Python;
- Object-oriented programming idioms include concepts such as references, mutability, instances, multiple inheritance, and operator overloading;
- Control flow introduces the concepts of generators, context managers, coroutines, and asynchrony ;
- Metaprogramming explores lesser-known aspects of classes such as dynamic attributes and properties, attribute descriptors, class decorators, and metaclasses.
If you need a deeper answer than is found on Stack Overflow, check out this book.
Effective Python: 59 Ways to Write Better Python, Brett Slatkin
This is a collection of 59 independent articles of varying complexity, dedicated to the best programming practices, little-known functions and built-in language tools.
You can read chapters in a row or choose only those that interest you. Each article is 2-4 pages long, so it is quite possible to parse it in one go.
There are 8 sections in the book:
- Pythonic Thinking
- Classes and Inheritance
- Metaclasses and Attributes
- Concurrency and Parallelism
- Built-in Modules
Python Cookbook, David Beazley & Brian K. Jones
Of all the best Python books in this collection, this one has the highest level of detail. Each recipe in the cookbook has an extensive sample code, as well as a discussion of some of the specific elements of the solution.
First of all, the author clearly sets the task, for example: “you want to write a decorator that adds an additional argument to the calling signature of the wrapped function.” Then follows the modern Python 3 solution code and several pages devoted to its parsing.
The authors of the “cookbook” often speak at the largest Python conferences and are actively involved in the development of the language.
Write the code!
Despite the low barriers to entry, learning Python is a never-ending process. The language is so popular and is developing so quickly that there is always something new in it . However, any innovation must be built on a solid foundation, which our selection of the best Python books can help you create.
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