Hey, folks! This is where I’m going to be stashing all my Amazon Affiliate links. Anything you buy using these links earns me some pocket money.

These are all things I myself have purchased and am recommending–I’m not just showing you whatever I think you’re going to buy.

Personally, I really like owning physical books, but less because the format is inherently better for learning. Motivation, yes: if there are unread code books sitting on my shelf, I feel more pressure to read them than if they’re just PDFs on my hard drive. Once I finish them, they turn into reference manuals and trophies of things I’ve learned. Keeping them around casually signals nerdiness to other nerds. And I just like collecting them. They’re so shiny!

But even I’m unlikely to buy a physical book if I find a free online copy of it first, or if the ebook is cheaper. Practicality, y’know? A lot of code books are expensive. So, where I’ve found legal links to free versions of the books I recommend here, I’ve included them. I don’t profit from your use of them, but don’t let that stop you–you should learn from as many sources as you can!

So, before I get you into this, I’d like to introduce you to a web site called The Hacker Shelf, which is a giant list of books you can find online. You might also like this open-source project which is similar but easier to navigate, as it lists books by language/topic.



Programming Books


Learn Python the Hard Way

I recommend this as a good first programming book. Python is a great learning language–it lacks a lot of the funky characters that usually make code look intimidating, and which beginners often kinda screw up (“I forgot the #$%^@#$ semicolon again!”)–but it’s not a toy, and you can use it to program almost anything.

(psst! It can be read online for free here.)


Head First HTML5 Programming

Disclaimer: this is an exception in that I haven’t purchased this exact book myself. That’s because the book I have–the one from which I learned HTML and CSS five years ago–is on the previous version of HTML. This book is by the same author and publisher, though, and the book I have is really good.

If Python seems too intimidating to you (it can be somewhat difficult to install on Windows), this is the book to use. It’s full of pictures and stuff, and HTML/CSS has been the programmers’ “gateway drug” for years.


Clojure for the Brave and True

I’m only on the second chapter, but I’m already quite fond of this. Clojure runs on the JVM, which means everyone who can run Java (read: everyone) can run Clojure. It’s widely regarded as a solid language.

(psst! It can be read online for free here.)


Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition


…it’s a Microsoft book.

And yet. I’m recommending it. Wild, huh? It’s the first Microsoft book I’ve bought of my own free will, on Jeff Atwood’s recommendation. I like it enough to pass it on to you!

I haven’t read all of it, but I think I got six chapters in before my life turned upside down, and it was like a repeat of all the stuff I’ve learned by reading articles about code on the Internet for hours and hours and hours, but in one place. This is a book that will give you a lot of “common sense” stuff that most people have to gain by experience. That’ll keep you out of trouble in projects, while also making you look really impressive!


Creating Apps in Kivy

Ah, do I need to explain this one? I’ve used and recommended it enough on the main site.

I will say that if you’ve gotten through Learn Python the Hard Way, this is a good next step if you want to have some fun with mobile apps… or just don’t know what to do next.


Murach’s PHP and MySQL, 2nd Edition

I got this as a textbook. It’s actually really good! I’m not sure how fond I am of PHP, but if you need to learn it, this is what you want.

I’m also grateful to this book because it was probably the least expensive of my textbooks that semester.


The Linux Command Line

I have this in PDF form because I got it as part of a Humble Bundle. Took a peek inside last night and ended up reading a fair chunk of it–I wish I’d had this a year ago.

(psst! You can get a PDF for free here. Legally–the creators put it up.)


Non-programming books


The Charisma Myth

A really interesting book, with one of the most creative covers I’ve ever seen.




Ender’s Game

I carried this around throughout most of high school, mostly because I related to it. It’s a pretty good book.



Computer Accessories

Blah, what a vague title. Whatever.


Skullcandy Uprock Headphones

My headphones. The different colors are all different prices, so poke around. I picked these because I’ve had good experiences with Skullcandy for headphones and earbuds, and they were $15 when I got them. The sound is good, they look cool, and they’ve got the flat cord that doesn’t tangle easily. They’re also made from cheap plastic though, and they don’t stay resized between uses, but hey–they were cheap and they’re good enough for me.


Blue CD Organizer Case

I got this because I was accumulating Linux live CDs and Windows rescue disks and stuff. It’s cheap, it’s blue (which is my favorite color, if you haven’t noticed), I’ve had it for months, and it doesn’t do any weird cheap design thing that makes it break. Obviously the most exciting thing on this list, but I mean, we all need them.


iBenzer Macbook Pro 13″ Case with Keyboard Cover

Got this for my MacBook. Again: cheap ($13), blue, functional, looks cool. The front corners of the bottom shell tend to wear out and crack on these (I should probably replace mine at some point), but it doesn’t stop it from protecting your computer. In other words, it kinda breaks a little, but not enough for me to care very much.

It comes with a keypad cover, which I’m also fond of; it doesn’t impair typing at all, it’s kept tons of cat hair and food crumbs out of my keyboard, and it rinses clean under warm water.



Rebekah Yoder is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to