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The Best Python Books

What if I told you that you can meet the best Python experts and learn from them about one of the most popular programming languages? That you can do it without leaving your home, while sitting comfortably in an armchair and sipping tea? How do you do it? Start reading Python books. Here are the ones that should be on your shelf or your reading playlist.

Do you learn Python from online courses or watch tutorials on YouTube? Do you participate in Python discussion forums and online webinars? Great, but there is something else you can do to learn more about Python. Reach for old-fashioned sources of knowledge – read some Python books.

You can take them with you on vacation, read on the train, or read in bed. But which Python books should you choose? There are thousands of them on the market. No worries, I got your back. Here's my pick of the 5 best Python books you should read.

I based my choices on my own experience and on advice from my fellow programmers. We have actually read these books and can confidently recommend them. Each book title is linked to its Amazon page so that you can find it easily.

Any of these books is definitely worth your time.

1.  “Learning Python” by Mark Lutz

Best Python Books

Learning Python: Powerful Object-Oriented Programming is a book written by Mark Lutz, one of the biggest names in the Python world. He was one of the first authors to write about the language and its use. His first articles appeared in 1995, and he has taught Python for over 20 years. That should be convincing enough for you to choose this book just by the author.

It is a book in the popular O'Reilly textbook series and was one of the first books I got my hands on while learning Python. In retrospect, I am glad that I found this title, because I believe to this day that it is one of the best written and complete books on Python. Currently, the 5th edition is on the market.

What will you find inside? Quite a neat and easy-to-learn introduction to writing Python code. I recommend this book especially to beginners who are just taking their first steps in the programming world. It has some practical tips and tricks to make your Python top-notch.

The book is in the form of a tutorial, because it is based on his training method. In addition to theoretical knowledge, there are quizzes and exercises. Of course, they're not as good as real Python practice, which you can get from interactive Python courses (Learn Programming with Python) or by simply creating your own projects. Nevertheless, it's helpful to see how much you already know.

You will learn the basic Python stuff, such as numbers, lists, and dictionaries. If you do not yet know how, you'll learn to create Python statements, use Python functions, packages, and libraries, and much more. Even advanced users will find something interesting in the book.

I recommend this book as a supplement to online courses, not as a standalone Python learning resource. Why? Some topics are treated too briefly. Some are more fully covered in his next book, Programming Python. Nevertheless, it's a great book.

2.  “Python Tricks: A Buffet of Awesome Python Features” by Dan Bader

Best Python Books

Python Tricks: A Buffet of Awesome Python Features was suggested to me by my friend Agnieszka. She touts it as a great book for Python beginners who have already overcome the first barrier by learning the basics and want more. I always value her opinion because she's a really smart person, so I picked it up and started reading.

The first thing that hits you is the really easy and understandable language used by the author. Everything is complemented with very eye-catching graphics.

If you're a complete Python rookie, you might get a little overwhelmed. Consider doing Python Basics interactive courses first, where you will find the absolutely necessary basics of Python programming. Once you feel more confident, you can reach for this book.

After a short introduction, you'll begin to delve into the increasingly difficult Python concepts. You'll start with classes and functions, then learn about common data structures in Python and how to use looping, dictionaries, and iteration chains correctly. I liked this part the most. The author gives great examples to understand even difficult topics. The book ends with a chapter on modules and objects. I warn you – these are not simple things, but they can be mastered.

I really like the author of the book, Dan Bader. This guy also does some decent tutorials on YouTube you might find useful for learning Python. Below is his Q&A about the book. Perhaps Dan himself will convince you to read his book on Python!

3.  “Automate the Boring Stuff with Python” by Al Sweigart

Best Python Books

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python: Practical Programming for Total Beginners is one of the best-selling Python books. It's one of those books you really should read. And if you want to be a Pythonista, you should have an opinion about this book – even if it is a devastating criticism.

However, since it is on this list, you might guess that my opinion of the book is pretty good.

The author breaks down individual Python topics into small parts and translates them quite efficiently. Almost every described project can realistically help you in your day-to-day work. Some are theoretical nonsense but practical things that can speed up processes in your company.

When might this book be helpful? For example, when you need to create a script to rename files or to automate the web scraping process, but you don't know how to do it in Python. The author gives ready-made solutions explaining why he wrote the code the way he did and not some other way. Pretty cool, as if you were talking to an experienced developer who explains the intricacies of his programming to you.

This inspired me to use Python to automate filling one of our Google Sheets, in which we collect data on the performance of our blog.

Unfortunately, the book has some minor inaccuracies. It was written a while ago, and a few things – for example, some libraries – have changed a bit since then. None of them are impossible to overcome or deal with. For me, this book is very useful for beginning and intermediate Python users.

4.  “Python for Data Analysis: Data Wrangling with Pandas, NumPy, and IPython” by Wes McKinney

Best Python Books

This is a book written by Wes McKinney, known in the Python world for creating the Pandas library which significantly changed the approach to data analysis in Python. Thank you Wes!

Not familiar with Pandas? It is an open-source Python library that has long been used for data analysis and data manipulation. This is one of the most popular Python libraries out there. If you want to know more, read the Top 15 Python Libraries for Data Science article. You can also learn a lot about Pandas in the article, “The Most Helpful Python Data Cleaning Modules.”

McKinney’s book is great. It is a starting point for further learning on data analysis techniques.

What will you learn? The latest edition of the book has been updated for Python 3.6. You will learn everything you need to know about Pandas, NumPy (another very useful Python library), and matplotlib (helpful for data visualization). You will find out why you should use IPython and Jupyter. You can also read about the latter on our blog in the article Jupyter Notebook - the Free Editor for Python. Everything is described succinctly and in very simple language. The author is not a lecturer or instructor, but his writing is still pleasant to read.

There are many code examples. Some critics point out that the author shows Python works with random numbers and not with real examples. Personally, I didn't mind that; all it takes is a little imagination. You will learn a lot, and you will be able to apply the acquired knowledge in your projects.

Honestly, this book is not for beginners. Rather, it is aimed at intermediate and advanced Python users. Of course, even a novice can handle it with a bit of motivation and determination, but you can gain much more if you already have some programming experience.

If you dream of working as a data analyst, you should read this book. Some will consider it a fundamental book on data analysis and manipulation in Python. Certainly one of the classics.

5.  Django for Beginners: Build websites with Python and Django by William S. Vincent

Best Python Books

Finally, something for those looking to advance their web development skills in Python. Here, you'll learn Django.

Django is an open-source framework for building web applications. It is extremely popular, mainly due to its simplicity and functionality. There are many companies that use Django, including Instagram and Mozilla. If you are thinking of working in this field, Django is one of the better choices.

"Django for Beginners" is a very handy guide to the Python-based web framework. This is a great step towards becoming an expert in this field, perfect for novice users. Have you ever had to deal with building websites? Or maybe you can program in other languages like Java or C++ and want to learn modern web development techniques quickly? If so, this book is for you.

What will you find inside?

A tutorial on how to create a website from scratch. You can take a close look at how to create a blog step by step. The author also covers front-end and security issues. It even helps in writing tests for new applications and shows where users make mistakes most often. All of this is really practical and well-presented knowledge that can be put into practice right away.

William S. Vincent knows what he is writing about. He is a Board Member of the Django Software Foundation. He wrote two more books about Django: "Django for Professionals" and "Django for APIs". These are books for advanced Pythonistas.

If you still want more Django, you can listen to his weekly Django Chat podcast. If you like to listen for your Python learning, there are other Python podcasts you can choose from. There are a lot of them, so it's good to know which ones are interesting and merit your attention. You will find them in this cool article by my friend Marcin.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Django is named after Django Reinhardt, one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time? I play the guitar, but I'm still a lot short of the master level. The story of a guy who could play better with only two fingers than most contemporary musicians gives you a perspective.

Good Python Books for Your Reading Pleasure

Now you know which Python books are worth your time. This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. I've tried to pick the best Python books for you. I am constantly reading new ones; maybe I will create another list soon. If you've read anything interesting on Python, let me know in the comments.

Remember that no book can replace a good interactive Python course. A while ago, I wrote an article on What Are the Best Online Python Courses? Pick one and start learning Python!

Do you want to know why you should bet on Python, and whether it is a good investment for your career? You will eventually spend your time and money learning Python. Here, you will find 5 Reasons to Learn Python in 2021. Also, see which companies harness the power of Python.

Work, learn, read, repeat! This is the way to becoming a Python expert!