The 10 Best Java Books for Learning Java Programming

13 min read
Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Java is a general-purpose programming language and used widely for web development, enterprise software development, Android apps development and much more. Read on if you are looking for best java books available out there in the wild that helps you master the art of Java programming.

The demand for java developers has never seen a downtrend in the recent years and the job boards have always been busy with the requirement of developers with expertise in core java, advanced java, J2EE, android development as well as other related technologies.

Talking a bit more about Java, it is object-oriented programming language and abstracts away most of the complex details of the machine. Write once and run everywhere is the philosophy on which java was released back in 1990 by Sun Microsystems, acquired later by Oracle.

Learning Java Programming

Learning a complex new language is not at all easy especially when it’s an object-oriented compiled language like Java and not a scripting language like JavaScript or an interpreted language like PHP. 

The books have never failed to provide the needed information in the best way possible. When it comes to Java, there is no dearth of good java programming books out there in the wild that train you on fundamentals of programming in Java as well as provide step by step tutorials and instructions to develop projects of all scale and complexity.

Having said that, it is important to find and follow the right set of books to speed up the learning process and to understand the depths of the language.

What are the Best Books to Learn Java?

The answer to this question is completely dependent on what you like, your final goal, current programming experience and the amount that you are willing to pay for the book. There are many free books and tutorials available online that can be referred to if you are looking forward to learning something very specific. If the goal is to understand the depths and breadths of java, then online tutorials will not work, and you need to get hold of one or more of the good java books.

Head First Java, for example, is a great book for the beginners without any prior programming experience, other books for beginners include Effective Java, Java: The Complete Reference and many more.

On the other hand, if you are already a programmer and looking forward to mastering some of the advanced level java concepts then there are books like Java concurrency, Java Performance, Java Puzzlers, Learning Java Lambdas and more. Specifically for certification, you can look at OCA Java SE 8 Programmer.   

So, let us look at the best java books available in the market as of today –

Head First Java (Second Edition)

This book was originally published back in 2003 by Bert Bates and Kathy Sierra and is from the house of O’Reilly Media. This book also happens to be one of the most popular books among the new programmers and puts great emphasis on the fundamentals of Java programming.

The reason I personally like this book is for its mind-stretching exercises, interactivity with the reader, humorous pictures, analog that is memorable and easy to understand, and casual language. This entire learning experience motivates new Java learners and encourages developers to think in Java.

Book gives complete information about object-oriented programming and depths of java and covers anything and everything starting from the core java to advanced topics, including threads, network sockets, and distributed programming with RMI.

Along with letting you know, what you need to know about Java syntax, this book also helps you in understanding them properly. It keeps you engaged in multiple ways that include many interesting puzzles, great visuals, programming mysteries, and much more.

In short – Headfirst Java is effective and fun to learn Java Programming and tops are a list of best books to learn java for beginners.

Java: A Beginner’s Guide (Sixth Edition)

This is another good book for java beginners. This book is for anyone and everyone with even a little knowledge of programming and who wants to learn breadths of Java programming language.

It’s a book by “Herbert Schildt” and has a compilation of all the basic concepts of core Java including the very basics like how to create, compile, and run a “Hello World” Java program. Extending further from the basics, it also includes keywords, syntax, and aspects that are fundamental to learning Java and object-oriented programming concepts in general.

This book goes good with some of Java’s more advanced features too, like multithread programming, generics, and swing. New Java SE 8 features such as lambda expressions and default interface methods are described as well.

This book is designed by keeping the right way of learning in mind and the various sections are filled with windfall information, helpful tips, hands-on exercises that show the reader how to apply the skills and includes chapter quizzes to reinforce your skills.

This book is what you should go through if you want to learn Java in-depth, as the essential Java programming has been made quite easy by the writer to let you have the better understanding of the language.

Java Performance: Charlie Hunt, Binu John

Keeping aside Java programming books for beginners – let us look at Java Performance by Charlie Hunt and Binu John which is a self-contained book dedicated to performance aspects of Java platform. It is an essential reference in the domain of performance analysis and tuning of Java-based systems. This book contains all the aspects needed to consider oneself as a serious java performance engineer and ranks among our 10 best Java Books.

From the overview of the basics of operating systems performance and monitoring to specialized domains of benchmarking and from focusing on profiling to tuning the JVM, this book contains the entire important aspects of Java to fit the requirement of all the aspirants, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned developer.

It has a compilation of command-line tools for OS monitoring, different components of JVM, tools used for monitoring Java applications, tuning Java EE applications and much more to enhance your knowledge in this particular programming language along with focusing on strengthening your basic understandings.

As it covers the latest Oracle and third-party tools for monitoring and measuring performance on a wide variety of hardware architectures and operating systems, so it helps in squeezing maximum performance and value from all the Java applications.

Effective Java (2nd Edition): Joshua Bloch

This book is for the perfectionist looking forward to writing clearer, more robust, more correct, and more reusable code in the java programming language. The book is a great compilation of rules of thumbs in Java programming, workable solutions and best practices for the programming challenges you encounter in every development project.

The latest edition of the jolt award-winning work has now been thoroughly updated to cover the new design pattern in development, and also the language idioms. You get to understand and make the most out of the latest and greatest of java features including autoboxing, enums, annotations and everything else.

Another great aspect of this book is short standalone essays that focus on providing advice on specific areas, java platform subtleties accompanied with easy to understand code examples. Joshua Bloch also focuses on explaining how one can avoid the pitfalls and traps of commonly misunderstood aspects of core java and some of its core libraries like java.lang, java.util, and to an extent, java.util.concurrent and, etc., to name a few.

In summary, go ahead with this book if you are looking forward to writing well-designed java programs effectively, it definitely goes a little beyond just the basics and talks in a very authoritative style with practical guidelines.

Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases

Puzzles are always interesting, isn’t it? This book uncovers very peculiar aspects of java programming by using entertaining and thought-provoking puzzles. Go for this book if you love brainteasers and want to learn core concepts of java programming.

Packed with 95 diabolical puzzles and stunning visual optical illusions, this book has a perfect compilation of subtleties of the Java Programming Language and its core libraries.

While moving from basics to the advanced level programming, you need to be well aware on how to avoid the traps and pitfalls of the programming language, in this book, Joshua Bloch goes an extra mile to uncover program’s behavior to make you understand what to avoid.

Java Puzzlers – the book also features a very quick reference catalog towards the end that lists traps and pitfalls and a quick taxonomy for future reference. Understanding the puzzles in the book ensures that one doesn’t fall prey to the obscure or counterintuitive behaviors of the language that are tough to avoid even for the experienced developers.  This book easily qualifies to be one of the best java programming books for advanced level developers.

Java: The Complete Reference (Ninth Edition)

Talking about the best Java books – this is another great book by the bestselling programming author “Herb Schildt” and has the compilation of the entire Java language, including its syntax, keywords, and fundamental programming principles, as well as significant portions of the Java API library. It has got the best compilation of various aspects related to Java to let you be at that mastered level. It explains everything in detail, starting from how to develop, compile, debug, and run Java programs.

It describes new Java SE 8 features such as lambda expressions, the stream library, and the default interface method in detail. It includes data types, variables, arrays, control statements, method overloading, and overriding, interface and packages, multithread programming, Java FX, JavaBeans and much more to enhance your level of knowledge in the field of Java.

OCA Java Se 8 Programmer I Exam Guide (Exams 1z0-808)

The wait is over and here is the book from Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates for everyone who plans to clear the OCA JAVA SE8 Certification (Exams 1z0-808), the book presents up to date guides on every topic required for Java SE 8 Programmer 1 exam.

The practice is a must for clearing the certification and there is no shortage of practice questions in this book and all the questions reflect the style, tone, content, and format of those in the actual exam. The book can also be used as a quick reference for day to day on the job projects.

The contents in this book are perfectly formulated and include declarations and access control, object orientation, assignments, operators, strings and arrays, flow control and exceptions, assertions and Java exceptions, generics and collections, threads, concurrency, Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) and many other important topics, that lets you get the complete coverage of all objectives.

The book also accompanies electronic content in the CD that includes secured PDF of the book, 200 questions for practice and customizable test engine.

This exclusive Oracle Press guide has a compilation of chapters that feature challenging exercises, a certification summary, a two-minute drill, and a self-test to reinforce the topics presented. It proves to be a great help in preparing for the OCA/OCP Java SE 8 Programmer 1 exam.

In short, while there is long list of books that claim to be the best books for learning java only a few foci on certification, go for this one if you are looking forward to getting the certification done.

Java Concurrency in Practice

This is another book for advanced level java programmers and deals mainly with the concurrency in java programs, which is essential for scalable enterprise-grade applications. The book is written by Brian Goetz along with Tim Peierl, Joshua Bloch, Joseph Bowbeer, David Holmes, Doug Lea, and the latest edition was published towards the end of 2016, and for that reason covers the latest and greatest of concurrency in Java.

The book starts off with an introduction, thread safety, sharing objects, thread pools, etc. and explains further the concepts around liveness hazards, cancellation and shutdown, scalability of Java applications, the performance of complex applications, concepts around building synchronizers, and testing of concurrent programs.

Go for this book, if you already know Java and looking forward to creating enterprise-grade scalable applications, this is one of the best java books available out there in the wild for mastering concurrency in Java.

Core Java Volume 1 – Fundamentals (10th Edition)

This book is from the house of Cay Horstmann and covers the Java SE 8 idioms, features and best practices. The author specifically focuses on the fundamental concepts of java programming as well as foundational concepts of modern user interface programming. Other aspects of programming that get more emphasis in this book include collections, lambda expressions, design of user interface with Swing, concurrency in Java, generics as well as basics of functional programming.

This book will help you in enhancing your existing programming gen to quickly master core Java syntax, understanding how encapsulation, classes, and inheritance work in Java, improving program robustness with exception handling and effective debugging, mastering concurrent programming techniques from the ground up, deploying configurable applications and applets and simplifying concurrency and enhancing performance with new functional techniques.

This one definitely scores much higher in the list of java books for beginners and walks students through all the details and takes a deep dive into the most critical features of the language and core libraries.

Java All-in-One for Dummies

This is one of the most recent Java programming books which is updated fully with the features of JDK 9 and is a quick reference for anyone new to the world of java programming. The book is well organized, easy to follow and offers step by step guides on the setup of various java tools, applets, servlets, data handling, java server pages and basic features like variables, expressions, loops, exceptions, methods and everything else. 

It is also a good book to learn Swing and building swing based applications and includes best practices and tips on designing layouts, buttons, labels, etc. The book is very detailed with more than 900 pages so you need not go anywhere else for learning the fundamentals of Java.

Another candidate for you if you were looking for java books for beginners.

Conclusion – Best Java Books

When it comes to understanding the concepts and fundamentals of Java programming, books are the best way to begin the journey and in this article, we have covered books that are best in the business. The authors like Kathy Sierra, Joshua Bloch, Bert Bates, Herbert Schildt, and others are experts in Java programming and have real-life experience in doing projects of all scales and sizes. And on top of that, they know how to write Java top books in a way to make learning easy and fun.

Furthermore, do not worry much about the original publication date of the book, since these books keep on getting further revisions with the inclusion of latest features and in any case, the core concepts and programming language do not change for decades and the books never go obsolete in general.

I hope you liked this article on 10 best java books. So, figure out your end goal and grab one of the books mentioned in this article. Also, do share your views, reviews, and thoughts about any of the Java book that you have already read, via comments! Keep programming, it is fun, it is life. Cheers!




@noetic here, the founder of I love coding, quantum physics, and working on my brain to manipulate time.

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