7 Top Books to Become a Back-end Engineer in 2023


No matter what you’re building, having a strong foundation is crucial and that’s where back-end developers come in. Back-end Development refers to server-side development. Back-end developer skills include Development Languages, Database, and cache, Server, API (REST & SOAP), etc.

In this article, we have put the spotlight on the best books for backend developers through a collection of book reviews. Each book review will highlight the taste of the book, the contents covered, and how it can benefit you. 


Why Learn Back-end Development

Let us now delve into the top reasons why you should learn backend development:

  • The digital world is thriving and back-end developers are in hot demand.

  • A career in back-end development is an excellent option for those who are interested in programming and are passionate about technology.

  • Back-end developers are paid more as compared to front-end developers.

  • If you want to boost your career opportunities and income, you can get tons of job opportunities by learning back-end development.

  • Backend programming languages have strong and thriving community support. You will find great learning resources online to polish your skills.


What Makes Best Backend Development Books?

To help you in selecting a well-structured and latest book for backend developers, we have narrowed it down to the top best books for backend developers. 

Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:

  • The book should contain a variety of instructional materials, including exercises, examples, questions, learning activities, and other features that promote a programmer’s engagement and active learning.

  • It must have a structured, clear, and logical progression of topics.

  • Content must be up-to-date and should thoroughly teach and explain the basic concepts of backend developers.

  • Use clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language.

  • The book should have a clear layout and must be friendly toward self-taught programmers.


Best Books for Backend Developers

There’s so much to learn about backend web development and it’s hard to find out where to start. With so many books out there to learn backend development, the readers are left confused deciding which one to buy. Here, we have reviewed a list of six excellent books for backend developers.


1. Best Book for Those Who Know JavaScript: Node.js Web Development: Server-side web development made easy with Node 14 using practical examples

Node.js Web Development by David Herron helps you to build scalable web applications using Node.js, Express.js, and the latest ECMAScript techniques. The book takes you through the different stages of developing robust and scalable apps using Node.js 14.

You will learn to deploy applications with AWS and Docker with this updated edition. After reading the book, you will be able to:

  • Install and use Node.js 14 and Express 4.17 for both web development and deployment

  • Implement RESTful web services using the Restify framework

  • Develop, test, and deploy microservices using Docker, Docker Swarm, and Node.js, on AWS EC2 using Terraform

  • Get up to speed with using data storage engines such as MySQL, SQLite3, and MongoDB

  • Test your web applications using unit testing with Mocha, and headless browser testing with Puppeteer

  • Implement HTTPS using Let's Encrypt and enhance application security with Helmet

This book is divided into fourteen chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1 talks about Node.js

  • Chapter 2 talks about setting up Node.js

  • Chapter 3 explores Node.js Modules

  • Chapter 4 covers HTTP Servers and Clients

  • Chapter 5 talks about your first Express Application

  • Chapter 6 talks about implementing the Mobile-First Paradigm

  • Chapter 7 covers Data Storage and Retrieval

  • Chapter 8 talks about authenticating users with a Microservice

  • Chapter 9 covers Dynamic Client/Server Interaction with Socket.IO

  • Chapter 10 talks about deploying Node.js Applications to Linux Servers

  • Chapter 11 talks about deploying Node.js microservices with Docker

  • Chapter 12 covers deploying a Docker Swarm to AWS EC2 with Terraform

  • Chapter 13 covers Unit Testing and Functional Testing

  • Chapter 14 talks about Security in Node.js Applications

The book helps to build and deploy your own apps on a public web hosting solution. By the end of this Node.js book, you will have gained practical Node.js web development knowledge. This book is for anyone with the desire to learn.

For more best books on learning Node, see these top 5 books on Node and Express.


2. Best Book to Learn Java: Java: The Complete Reference

Java: The Complete Reference by Herbert Schildt has everything for in-depth knowledge to become a master in Java programming language. The book explains how to develop, compile, debug, and run Java programs.

It covers the entire Java language, including its syntax, keywords, and fundamental programming principles. The book is divided into thirty-five chapters. Here's what you will find in the book:

  • Data types, variables, arrays, and operators

  • Control statements

  • Classes, objects, and methods

  • Method overloading and overriding

  • Inheritance

  • Local variable type inference

  • Interfaces and packages

  • Exception handling

  • Multithreaded programming

  • Enumerations, autoboxing, and annotations

  • The I/O classes

  • Generics

  • Lambda expressions

  • Modules

  • String handling

  • The Collections Framework

  • Networking

  • Event handling

  • AWT

  • Swing

  • The Concurrent API

  • The Stream API

  • Regular expressions

  • JavaBeans

  • Servlets

The book includes real-world examples and explains all the basics and advanced concepts of java like JavaBeans, servlets, applets, swing and Java 8 APIs as well. This book is good for professional backend developers. 

For more best books on Java, see these top 6 books on Java.


3. Best Book to Learn Algorithms: Algorithms by Robert Sedgewick

Algorithms is a book that delivers on exactly what you want from an algorithms book: clean, simple, straightforward explanations of the most important algorithms. With examples based in Java, the book is well-organized and thorough, reaching nearly 1000 pages.

For more information about what this book is about, look to the introduction of Algorithms:

This book is intended to survey the most important computer algorithms to use today, and to teach fundamental techniques to the growing number of people in need of knowing them. […] Before developing our fundamental approach to studying algorithms, we develop data types for stacks, queues, and other low-level abstractions that we use throughout the book. Then we survey fundamental algorithms for sorting, searching, graphs, and strings. The last chapter is an overview placing the rest of the material in the book inn a larger context.

I like this. Why? It puts you in the weeds first and saves the theory for later. This is how people learn best. Once we know how to use something, we become hungry for the ‘why,’ but if we get the ‘why’ first, it hardly sticks.

The book is divided into six of the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1 covers fundamentals such as primitive data types, loops, arrays, objects, APIs, linked lists, Tilde notation, and memory usage.

  • Chapter 2 covers sorting algorithms such as mergesort and quicksort.

  • Chapter 3 covers searching algorithms and data types such as binary search and hash tables.

  • Chapter 4 covers graph algorithms such as shortest-path algorithms and depth-first search.

  • Chapter 5 covers algorithms related to streams such as string sort, tries, substring search, data compression, and regular expressions.

  • Chapter 6 covers topics around context-reliant algorithms such as B-trees, reductions, suffix arrays, and event-driven simulation.

As you may gather from the chapter outline, the book covers “classic methods that have been taught since the 1960s and new methods that have been invented in recent years.” The goal is to reach the widest audience possible with the most important algorithms. To reach that goal, the information is well organized and explained.

If you are a self-taught programmer, I recommend this book if you are serious about supplementing a traditional computer science course curriculum.

For more best books on algorithms, see these top 5 books in algorithms.


More books you may like:


4. Best Book to Learn Python: Learn Python 3 the Hard Way

Learn Python 3 the Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw helps the reader learn the basics of programming with Python 3. Readers will learn Python through 52 outstandingly crafted exercises. Each exercise is building on the previous, and each one teaches the reader about some new features of the language. You just have to do all these exercises and find your solutions to problems you run into.

The book starts with Exercise 0 which is about getting Python set up on your computer. As you go through the book, you will learn about the following:

  • Install a complete Python environment

  • Organize and write code

  • Fix and break code

  • Basic mathematics

  • Variables

  • Strings and text

  • Interact with users

  • Work with files

  • Looping and logic

  • Data structures using lists and dictionaries

  • Program design

  • Object-oriented programming

  • Inheritance and composition

  • Modules, classes, and objects

  • Python packaging

  • Automated testing

  • Basic game development

  • Basic web development

The contents of this book are concise and well-constructed. It is suitable for both beginners and professionals. This classic book will help you to learn how the software works; what good programs look like; how to read, write, and think about Python code; and how to find and fix your mistakes. The ‘hard way’ from the title turns out to be the easy way to learn and master Python! 

For more best books on Python, see these top 7 books on Python.


5. Best Book to Learn Data Structures: Head First Design Patterns, 2nd Edition (2021)

Head First Design Patterns is one of the most popular and praised books in the Head First series — and it has a fresh 2021 edition. Design patterns are powerful and essential for any programmer of an object-oriented language. When you know these common solutions to problems, you can communicate more effectively and in a short-hand way.

If you want to upgrade your skills as a programmer, this book is great. Each chapter discusses a different design pattern and is packed with exercises and games so that you can grasp each pattern.

Here’s what you will find in the book:

  • Introduction — Explains who the book is for, how the book is brain-friendly, and the best way to get the most out of the book.

  • Chapter 1: Intro to Design Patterns — Covers the use and benefits of design patterns as well as some object-oriented design principles. This chapter also teaches you your first pattern.

  • Chapter 2: The Observer Pattern — Explains one of the most commonly-used design patterns.

  • Chapter 3: The Decorator Pattern — Is all about inheritance and not making code changes to underlying classes. This chapter teaches how to decorate classes at runtime.

  • Chapter 4: The Factory Pattern — Teaches instantiation, which should not always be done in public. This pattern is about saving you from “embarrassing dependencies.”

  • Chapter 5: The Singleton Pattern — Teaches one of the simplest patterns in terms of its class diagram. Despite its simplicity, it requires deep object-oriented thinking.

  • Chapter 6: The Command Pattern — This chapter is about encapsulating method invocation to do “wickedly smart” things for reuse and logging.

  • Chapter 7: The Adapter and Facade Patterns — This pattern is very cool. It’s about adapting interfaces to look like something they’re not.

  • Chapter 8: The Template Method Pattern — This is about encapsulating pieces of algorithms so that subclasses can hook themselves into a computation whenever.

  • Chapter 9: The Iterator and Composite Patterns — This is about allowing your clients to iterate through your objects without getting a peek at how you store them.

  • Chapter 10: The State Pattern — Digs into the relationship between the Strategy and State pattern.

  • Chapter 11: The Proxy Pattern — Proxies are about controlling and managing access, standing in for the objects they proxy.

  • Chapter 12: Compound Patterns — Patterns can work together. This chapter talks about ways you can combine them.

  • Chapter 13: Better Living with Patterns — This final chapter talks about a few extra details about what you would encounter in the real world. This chapter talks about how to organize and think in patterns in a professional setting.


6. Best Book to Learn C++: A Tour of C++

A Tour of C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup gives novice programmers a meaningful overview of C++ language, some key examples, and practical help in getting started. The book begins with the basics, then ranges widely through more advanced topics, including many that are new in C++17, such as move semantics, uniform initialization, lambda expressions, improved containers, random numbers, and concurrency.

The book is divided into sixteen chapters.

  • Chapter 1 covers the basics on how to get started

  • Chapter 2 covers the user-defined types

  • Chapter 3 introduces Modularity

  • Chapter 4 covers the Classes

  • Chapter 5 covers the Essential Operations

  • Chapter 6 covers the Templates

  • Chapter 7  covers the Concepts and Generic Programming

  • Chapter 8 introduces Library Overview

  • Chapter 9 introduces Strings and Regular Expressions

  • Chapter 10 introduces Input and Output

  • Chapter 11 covers Containers

  • Chapter 12 covers Algorithms

  • Chapter 13 covers Utilities

  • Chapter 14 covers Numerics

  • Chapter 15 covers Concurrency

  • Chapter 16 covers History and Compatibility

The book is recommended not just for beginners but for anyone who has a vague understanding of the language and wants to polish his/her C++ programming.

For more best books on C++, see these top 5 books on C++.


7. Best Book to Learn PHP Server-side Development: PHP & MySQL: Server-side Web Development 

PHP & MySQL uses a unique visual approach using infographics and photography. It also includes step-by-step instructions, practical code examples, and pro tips that will teach you how to build modern database-driven websites using PHP.

The book demonstrates practical techniques that you will recognize from popular sites where visitors can

  • Register as a member and log in

  • Create articles, posts, and profiles that are saved in a database

  • Upload their own images and files

  • Automatically receive email notifications

  • Like and comment on posts

By the end of the book, you will be able to build a complete content management system, enhanced with features that are commonly seen on social networks.

For more best books on PHP, see these top 5 books on PHP.


More Ways to Learn to Become a Back-end Engineer 

By now, you must have a good idea of the essential things to look for when considering the latest and best books for backend developers. With that information, you’re now better equipped to find the right book to match your needs. 

Books are great but sometimes online courses can also kickstart your journey. If you're interested, check out these online courses to learn technologies like backend development!

  • Codecademy: The Back-End Engineer career path is an intensive, 4-month interactive course designed to take you from zero to modern development professional. The program teaches Node.JS, Express.JS, PostgreSQL, TDD, Back-End, SQL, and Design Patterns. For more on Codecademy Pro, see my Codecademy Pro review.

We also suggest here over 70 coding resources that are free online.

There's so much to learn, but it's all achievable if you don't give up! 😊

Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.


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