6 Best Java Programming Books Ranked By Review Scores

Programming languages can be difficult to get the hang of. This is especially the case with languages that have different iterations. Java is one of these languages. Despite the similarity in their names, Java boasts many traits that separate it from JavaScript, from its heightened complexity to the differences in how it runs. Even for those familiar with JavaScript, Java is a different beast entirely — one that even long-time programming experts might find difficulty with. Here are the 6 best Java programming books based on reviews, for those that want to learn the language from scratch or brush up on their skills.

All books on this list are ranked according to the amount of reviews they received as well as their average. This list will also focus solely on Java, so don’t expect any “compilation” material here.

The 6 Best Java Programming Books Based on Amazon Reviews

Programming With Java is a book that wears its purpose on its cover. It’s a beginner-level resource that covers the ins and outs of Java. While some reviewers do indeed praise this resource as a great starting point, they also note how many outdated concepts there are within. Even with this book’s semi-recent release, it covers versions of Java that aren’t supported today. Despite its high review score, some reviewers note that the book isn’t that great for beginners after all. This is attributed not just to its dated material, but also to how it presents its concepts. This book can be useful as supplementary material, but it should not be your sole reliance when starting your journey with Java.

Reviews: Out of 746 total reviews, 66% gave this book 5 stars 

List Price: $25.49

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Data Structures and Algorithms Made Easy in Java was created as a simple way to introduce newcomers to Java. It’s meant to help aspiring programmers land jobs with many well-known companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Adobe. Reviewers have noted the book’s tendency to provide helpful questions and comparisons to other material. Unfortunately, they also noted formatting errors and many vague explanations. Contrary to this book’s title, this might be more worthwhile for those that have already found some skill in programming with Java. Beginners can still make use of this book, but they won’t find it as enlightening as novices might.

Reviews: Out of 1,067 total reviews, 57% gave this book 5 stars

List Price: $39.99

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Core Java: An Integrated Approach might be far more useful for beginners, even if it isn’t advertised as such. It covers multiple versions of Java up to version 8, which is one of the few versions still officially supported. Even critical reviewers acknowledge this book as a perfect place to grasp the basic concepts of Java, providing a great jumping-off point to learning the language. You might need to know a bit about programming already to truly understand everything, but no prior experience with Java is necessary.

With that in mind, it seems that Core Java: An Integrated Approach has the opposite problem of Narasimha Karumanchi’s offering. It offers a lot for beginners at the cost of not providing much for advanced users. Not every concept is fully explained, with some reviewers noting important resources being omitted such as the Java Development Kit. This might be a fine book to start out with, but you’ll likely need more under your belt if you want to truly master Java. Don’t let the list price scare you away, though! This book hasn’t become outdated just yet, but it’s aged enough to go on sale at far more reasonable prices.

Reviews: Out of 1,217 total reviews, 67% gave this books 5 stars

List Price: $499.00 Paperback, $5.66 Digital

Buy now on Amazon (Digital) or AbeBooks (Paperback)

As a resource for those more familiar with the language, Effective Java is one of the better choices out there. The content within is thorough and detailed, though it doesn’t manage to be the best starting point for newcomers. Some reviewers have also made note of poor print quality and issues with the digital version, but not everyone shares these issues. 

In spite of the issues encountered with Joshua Bloch’s offering, there’s a lot more good to be found here. Reviewers note that the material in the book is still relevant today, even with it being released back in 2017. It also gives explanations for various aspects of the programming language that some weren’t able to discover beforehand. True to its name, Effective Java is an effective book for those ready to dive into the language headfirst.

Reviews: Out of 1,298 total reviews, 84% gave this book 5 stars

List Price: $54.99 Paperback, $43.99 Digital

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Java: The Complete Reference would have appeared on this list multiple times if the previous editions were included. Many reviewers praise it as one of the best resources any Java programmer could have. In fact, the more critical reviews might be contradictory at times, with some claiming it lacks comprehensive material and others claiming that the material is fine, just not the examples. Outside of these criticisms, reviewers were overall pleased with the book’s quality and its coverage of everything a programmer would need to know about Java. This is arguably one of the best books a beginner can get, especially if that beginner also gets a more advanced book to pair it with.

Reviews: Out of 1,398 total reviews, 78% gave this book 5 stars

List Price: $60.00 Paperback, $54.00 Digital

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Head First Java might not be the best book for beginners, but it’s certainly the most beginner-friendly resource on this list. It takes a more casual, friendly tone, presenting concepts and code from Java in a manner similar to kid-friendly school textbooks. At first glance, it seems like a fine choice to let programmers of all ages learn about Java. However, this book was published back in 2005. The third edition does not have nearly as many reviews, but it should be considered before this second edition.

Reviews: Out of 1,798 total reviews, 72% gave this book 5 stars

List Price: $59.99

Buy now on Amazon or AbeBooks…or get the third edition on Amazon or AbeBooks

What to Look For When Choosing The Best Java Programming Book For You

Java is one of many programming languages with a long history. In this context, a book having positive reviews doesn’t matter as much as it being old or new. Many versions of Java are regularly deprecated, with only a few legacy versions boasting continued support. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure there aren’t many errors within your material. It’s one thing to not know a programming language, but it’s another thing entirely to learn it wrong.

If you want to make some comparisons between Java and other languages, check out the best JavaScript books and C++ books based on reviews!

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