For experienced programmers out there, Python needs little introduction. This multi-paradigm all-purpose program language has rocketed in popularity throughout the last decade, with Python 3.0 accelerating the language towards the number 1 spot in rankings of the world’s most popular programming languages.
Python is quick and versatile, with a forgiving learning curve at first but tons of advanced potential in cutting-edge fields such as AI and ML. Its libraries and frameworks are first-class, including the likes of Flask, Pyramids, Django, TensorFlow, Pandas, SciPy, Seaborn and Matplotlib.
Python is also easy to scale and integrate, making it excellent for enterprise applications. As a result, as of 2022, Python is listed in more job postings and job remits than any other programming language.
For a list of pros and cons of Python, check out this article.
To discover the best books on Python, read on!
Table of Contents
The Quick Python Book – Naomi Ceder
Released not too long after Python 3.0, this short introduction to Python is ideal for beginner coders and newbies to the language.
Naomi Ceder is incredibly experienced – the chair of the Python Software Foundation. This book covers the core features of Python, including syntax, control flow, and Python data structures.
This detailed yet concise book discusses code management, object-oriented programming, GUI programming and web development, and is well-referenced to real-life examples.
The book features numerous exercises readers can work through as they read. So it’s comprehensive enough while remaining concise and easy to follow.
- Python for beginners/novices
- Web development
- Data modelling
- Data engineering
Beginners and novices getting involved in/already using Python.
Automate the Boring Stuff With Python – Al Sweigart
Here’s a very unique and original book that aims to teach Python automation to total beginners.
But, the concepts here are so creative and unique that even hardcore Python experts love the book. It’s also beautifully written and purposeful from start to finish.
This book revolves around automating time-consuming tasks, including processing spreadsheets (i.e. data cleaning), searching for text across tons of documents (excellent for students), filling out online forms and web scraping, to name but a few.
In addition, the author has produced lots of creative and fun Python books covering everything from advanced software and web development to coding for Minecraft!
A really cool book that will help many people speed up their workflows, especially those that work with spreadsheets, word documents and numerical or textual data – from academics to programmers and more!
- Python automation
- Web scraping, spreadsheet and document processing, web automation, etc
- Creative use of Python
- Data manipulation and processing
Total beginners, intermediate and advanced programmers – something useful in there for everyone!
Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction To Programming – Eric Matthes
This superbly well-reviewed book is part of a wider series of beginner and intermediate Python books, including:
- Python for Kids
- Automate the Boring Stuff With Python
- Python Flash Cards
- Impractical Python Projects
- Serious Python
This particular book is designed for beginners and intermediates and does what it says on the cover by providing a quick yet intensive intro to Python.
This book starts with basic concepts like data types and structures before moving onto a series of small practical projects, including building a 2D Space Invaders-style arcade game, creating responsive data visualisations using Pygame, Matplotlib, Plotly and Django, and a customised ready-to-deploy web app.
The way the theory leads onto the practical examples is superb here – a really easy-to-follow book that can get anyone started with practical Python. Probably one of the bestselling Python books of the last few years.
- Python basics
- Practical applications of Python for beginners
- Using libraries
- Web development
Total beginners and intermediate Python users. An excellent crash course intro to the language.
Python All-in-One For Dummies, 2nd Edition – John C. Shovic and Alan Simpson
The “For Dummies” series of books has been highly influential for decades, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that this popular book series now extends to programming languages, including Python. This all-in-one collection includes seven small books:
- Getting Started
- Python Building Blocks
- Using Python Modules and Libraries
- Artificial Intelligence and Python
- Data Science and Python
- Hardware and Python
- Robots and Python
None of these mini-books are very long, but that’s great for breaking down several subjects into bitesize novice-friendly chunks. One of the authors, Alan Simpson, is highly regarded and has written over 100 programming and software-related books.
Fluent Python – Luciano Ramalho
Python is quick and easy to get to grips with, but its learning curve means many programmers fail to extract the best out of it. Moreover, it’s easy to learn bad habits when you’re going too fast. This book aims to rectify this, teaching readers how to write fluent, clean code.
The book discusses Python data modelling, structures, functions as objects, object-oriented idioms, control flow and metaprogramming, applying concepts to real examples. The metaprogramming and control flow sections are particularly interesting and definitely go beyond the superficial of what Python has to offer. As an O’Reilly book, it’s predictably girthy at 770 pages, and contains plenty of samples, diagrams and other visuals.
- Augmenting intermediate Python skills
- Modelling to structures, object-oriented idioms and other core and complex topics
- Creating clean, fluent code
- Shifting thinking from other languages to the “Pythonic” way
Intermediate and advanced programmers looking to tune and enhance their Python skills.
Python Cookbook: Recipes for Mastering Python 3: No. 3 – David Beazley
Probably one of the most popular and well-reviewed books on Python. This excellent book is focused on solving practical problems in Python, teaching readers to write clean and elegant code in the process. It covers all core topics in detail, from data structures to I/O, encoding and processing, classes and objects, concurrency and more.
Due to its excellent coverage of both foundational and Python-specific topics, readers frequently mention that this book is ideal for coders moving from other languages into Python. At 706 pages, this colossal book is hardly slacking for detail, and there are tons of excellent examples, diagrams and visuals too. However, while it caters for a wide audience, this book is probably best used by intermediate/senior devs.
- All levels of Python programming
- Object-oriented coding
- Data engineering
Probably best-suited to intermediate and advanced programmers.
Data Engineering With Python – Paul Crickard
Python is particularly strong in the field of data engineering, where there’s no doubt that it’s the premier programming language. This data engineering-focused book assesses all key concepts associated with data engineering, including using Python with Kafka and Spark.
This book discusses pipelines, databases, data cleaning and numerous other project-critical topics associated with data engineering. The book is guided by real-world case studies and utilises plenty of practical examples to guide readers. At 356 pages, it’s a substantial book but doesn’t weigh readers down with too much gaseous detail.
- Data engineering
- ETL pipelines
- Cleaning and enriching data
- Data engineering in Python, Kafka and Spark.
Python Data Cleaning Cookbook – Michael Walker
Similarly to the above, Python has gained notoriety for its data cleaning and processing abilities. Preparing clean data for everything from marketing mix models to machine learning models is critical to their success.
Python’s Pandas library is incredibly efficient at cleaning data, which this book covers in detail. It also discusses handling high volumes of data, data validation, missing values, deduplication, etc.
The book delves into data exploration and visualisation, helping readers create replicable strategies for analysing their datasets prior to processing and use. This book rates an excellent option for anyone needing to clean and process datasets for a variety of uses.
- Data cleaning
- Data engineering in Python
- Exploratory data analysis (EDA)
- Cleaning and processing data in Python
Programming Python: Powerful Object-Oriented Programming – Mark Lutz
This book provides an excellent guide to using Python in three of its critical applications; system administration, GUIs and web development. The book applies many libraries and frameworks to solve real-world problems with Python, including many examples illustrating syntax, structures, data types, programming techniques and common idioms.
It’s a large book with plenty of comprehensive examples and isn’t really aimed at beginners, but novices at least. The 1632 pages say something about how much is in this book!
Mark Lutz himself is extremely knowledgeable and has been teaching Python for decades. This book encapsulates much of his work and is great for those looking to master system administration, web development and GUIs.
- System administration
- Web development
- Advanced Python techniques
- Professional devs that use Python daily
Data Visualization in Python with Pandas and Matplotlib – David Landup
As noted, Python is excellent for data manipulation and visualisation, which are key in many sectors and industries. Data visualisation in Python is handled by libraries such as Pandas and Matplotlib, which are covered in this great data-visualisation-focused book.
In addition to covering the basics of data visualisation and processing, this book delves into complex 3D charts, widgets, advanced data processing and much more. There is another Python data visualisation book worth looking into too, called Interactive Data Visualization with Python: Present your data as an effective and compelling story, which covers Matplotlib, Altair, Bokeh and Plotly.
- Data visualisation
- Data processing
- Cleaning and visualising data in Python
Summary: Best 10 Python Books for Beginners & Advanced Programmers
Ten awesome books here, all of which deserve a spot on your bookshelf or desk!
For more books on programming, data, and related topics, check this article on the best books for data visualisation and this on the best books for software architecture.
Learning from books is as effective as ever, and will help you absorb yourself into the Pythonic way of thinking! Be sure to choose books that suit your experience level and path, but also, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zones.
After all, if you always stay in your lane, you might miss out on the critical knowledge required to land your big break.
What are the benefits of Python?
Python is an all-purpose high-level programming language with intuitive syntax. It’s supported by many excellent libraries and frameworks and is the most in-demand programming language today.
What is the best way to learn Python?
From coding bootcamps to university courses and Udemy courses, there are tons of ways to learn Python. Books, while traditional, are an excellent way to learn Python during your day-to-day life, putting the knowledge and experience of the experts into your hands.
What are the best Python books?
There are many superb books on learning Python. By filling your bookcase or desk with Python books, you’ll never have an excuse to neglect your understanding and development of the language!