5 Best C# Books for Building Games and Beyond (2023)

If you learn to code with C# and Unity, you can harness tools to build powerful video games.

If you learn to code with C# and Unity, you can harness tools to build powerful video games.

C# (pronounced “C Sharp”) is an object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft engineers to develop apps on the .NET platform. The multi-purpose programming language combines the best features of Java and C++ for a broad range of purposes. 

Today, the C# language is used for developing a lot of diverse apps, including video games. If you are planning to gain experience in the field of native apps creation under Microsoft, then C# is for you. 

There are so many great C# programming books out there for beginners. Choosing the right book is important as it can guide your learning. In this article, we have compiled a list of best C# books for beginners 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 C#?

C# developers are in demand and you are likely to make a good income knowing this programming language.

C# developers are in demand and you are likely to make a good income knowing this programming language.

C# is a powerful programming language that is used for developing plenty of diverse apps and is in demand in 2020. This is a great language for beginners. It lets you focus on the algorithm and not on the implementation details.

So, what’s so good about learning C#? Here are the reasons why you should learn C#.

  • The learning curve is not as steep as C and C++. C# is an object-oriented programming language that was developed as an improvement of the C language.

  • C# has a long shelf life. Microsoft uses this language very heavily and this promises the long-term prospects of the language. This language was first developed by Microsoft and is still backed by the company.

  • C# can be used for a wide range of purposes. Your C# skills can be used to build an app for the Windows OS, create a web application, an API, or a website. C# language is also used by Xamarin and will enable you to create mobile applications for iOS and Android platforms using a single codebase. 

  • Learn game development. If you are interested in building games then you have another good reason to learn C#. This language is used by the Unity game engine that is used for developing games for Windows devices.

  • C# has an active online community and you will find great learning resources online to polish your skills.

  • C# skills has great earning potential. If your goal is to earn money and get a good salary in the coming years, then learning the C# language becomes more vital. It will definitely have a significant impact on your salary.


What Makes Best C# Books?

To help you in selecting a well-structured and latest C# book for beginners, we have narrowed it down to the top 5 best C# books for beginners. 

Here are our criteria for selection of the books:

  • Modern and recently updated.

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

  • Thoroughly teach and explain the basic concepts of C# programming language 

  • Contain exercises, examples, and practice problems for hands-on experience

  • Enable to hold the attention of readers

  • Well-structured and friendly toward self-taught programmers


Best Books on C#

Here are the reviews on the five best C# programming books for novice programmers.


Book 1: Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2020, 5th Edition

Pop culture has taught us that computer programmers are often outsiders, lone wolves, or geeky hackers who possess extraordinary mental gifts for algorithmic thought[. … T]his is not the case.

Learning C#

Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2020: An enjoyable and intuitive approach to getting started with C# programming and Unity by Harrison Ferrone was published in 2020. Excuse the crazy-long title.

The book is written with someone new to programming and Unity in mind. This book will help you understand C# programming basics, terminologies, and coding best practices. This book will put your knowledge of C# concepts into practice by building a fun and playable game.

Beyond this book, if you’re interested in going all-in with learning Unity, Coursera offers a specialization: C# Programming for Unity Game Development.

As you go through the book, you will be able to:

  • Discover easy-to-follow steps and examples for learning C# programming fundamentals

  • Get to grips with creating and implementing scripts in Unity

  • Create basic game mechanics such as player controllers and shooting projectiles using C#

  • Understand the concepts of interfaces and abstract classes

  • Leverage the power of the latest C# features to solve complex programming problems

  • Become familiar with stacks, queues, exceptions, error handling, and other core C# concepts

  • Explore the basics of artificial intelligence (AI) for games and implement them to control enemy behavior

There are thirteen chapters, and they are written and structured in such a way to make the concepts crystal clear for you. You will get no problems moving ahead to the next ones. 

  • Chapter 1 covers the introduction and helps you in getting to know your environment

  • Chapter 2 covers the building blocks of programming

  • Chapter 3 covers variables, types, and methods

  • Chapter 4 talks about Control Flow and Collection Types

  • Chapter 5 covers topics related to working with Classes, Structs, and OOP

  • Chapter 6 helps you to understand how to work with Unity

  • Chapter 7 covers Movement, Camera Controls, and Collisions

  • Chapter 8 talks about scripting game mechanics

  • Chapter 9 covers basic Artificial Intelligence and Enemy Behavior

  • Chapter 10 revisits types, methods, and classes

  • Chapter 11 introduces you to Stacks, Queues, and HashSets

  • Chapter 12 helps you to explore Generics, Delegates, and Beyond

  • Chapter 13 talks about some advanced topics

This book on C# will give clear direction for taking your C# programming and Unity game development skills to the next level. Thereby, if you are scared to learn C sharp, then this book is your best friend!


Book 2: C# 8.0 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference, 1st Edition

The goal of the language is programmer productivity. To this end, C# balances simplicity, expressiveness, and performance.

C# 8.0 in a Nutshell

C# 8.0 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference by Joseph Albahari and Eric Johannsen, published in June 2020, is a well-structured book for beginners who are looking for all the important C# concepts under one roof. The book emphasizes that you need no previous C# experience to pick up this book, but it assumes knowledge about programming concepts.

This book follows an instructional exercise style prologue to programming. No previous knowledge of C# is required to begin this book. It covers the concepts of C# and .NET Framework in a detailed and well-structured way. If you are new and want to learn C#, this book provides many answers you need about this programming language. 

As you go through the book, you will be able to:

  • Get up to speed on C#, from syntax and variables to advanced topics such as pointers, closures, and patterns

  • Dig deep into LINQ with three chapters dedicated to the topic

  • Explore concurrency and asynchrony, advanced threading, and parallel programming

  • Work with .NET features, including regular expressions, networking, serialization, spans, reflection, and cryptography

  • Delve into Roslyn, the modular C# compiler as a service

The book has twenty-seven chapters and provides a concise map of C# and .NET knowledge. It is ideal for both beginners and advanced programmers.


Book 3: Programming C# 8.0

C# has now existed for around two decades. It has grown steadily in both power and size, but Microsoft has always kept the essential characteristics intact. […]

Even though C# continues to be a fairly straightforward language at its heart, this is a great deal more to say about it now than in its first incarnation.

Programming C# 8.0

Programming in C# by Ian Griffiths was published in December 2019 and guides you through C# fundamentals and techniques for building cloud, web, and desktop applications. You will find everything starting from the most basic topics to the most advanced ones. 

Through this book, you will be able to:

  • Discover how C# supports fundamental coding features, like classes, other custom types, collections, and error handling

  • Learn how to write high-performance memory-efficient code with .NET Core’s Span and Memory types

  • Query and process diverse data sources, such as in-memory object models, databases, data streams, and XML documents with LINQ

  • Use .NET’s multithreading features to exploit your computer’s parallel processing capabilities

  • Learn how asynchronous language features can help improve application responsiveness and scalability

The book is divided into eighteen chapters. They are well designed and simple to understand and will make it almost effortless for you to understand the topics. The contents covered in these chapters are:

  • Chapter 1 covers the introduction of C#

  • Chapter 2 talks about the basic coding in C#

  • Chapter 3 covers types, classes, structs, methods, and interfaces 

  • Chapter 4 talks about generics and constraints

  • Chapter 5 covers the collections including arrays, lists, and dictionaries 

  • Chapter 6 talks about Inheritance

  • Chapter 7 covers Object Lifetime. It further guides you about Garbage Collection, Destructors and Finalization, IDisposable, and Boxing 

  • Chapter 8 covers Exceptions and their handling 

  • Chapter 9 covers Delegates, Lambdas, and Events 

  • Chapter 10 covers LINQ and talks about Query Expressions, Deferred Evaluation, Standard LINQ Operators, and other LINQ Implementations

  • Chapter 11 covers Reactive Extensions

  • Chapter 12 covers Assemblies and talks about the anatomy of an Assembly, Type Identity, and loading Assemblies

  • Chapter 13 covers Reflection Types and Contexts

  • Chapter 14 talks about defining, consuming, and applying Attributes

  • Chapter 15 covers Files and Streams

  • Chapter 16 covers threads, synchronization, tasks, and other asynchronous patterns

  • Chapter 17 covers Asynchronous Language Features 

  • Chapter 17 covers Table and explains hot to populate & display data in a table, AngularJS in-built filter, sort table, display Table with uppercase filter, display the table index 

  • Chapter 18 covers Memory Efficiency

The book is perfect for designers and educators who need to learn C# programming.


More books you may like:


Book 4: C# 7.0 All-in-One For Dummies

Some people have pointed out that C sharp and D flat are the same note, but you shouldn’t refer to this new language as “D flat” within earshot of Redmond, Washington.

C# 7.0 All-in-One for Dummies

C# 7.0 All-in-One For Dummies by John Paul Mueller, Bill Sempf, and Chuck Sphar was published in December 2017 offers a deep dive into C# for coders still learning the nuances of the valuable programming language. This book is written in a simple and well-structured way and thereby making it interesting to learn C#.

The conversational style in this book is charming and fun. The book lives up to its “For Dummies” name by explaining everything simply and clearly. For example, the book even defines the word computer: “A computer is an amazingly fast but incredibly stupid servant.” Ah. I see. 🤔

The book also takes it’s “6 books in one,” all-in-one approach seriously. This book is nearly a thousand pages and packed with value.

This book covers the latest changes to C# and help you to:

  • Show exactly what the language can do

  • Present familiar tasks that you can accomplish with C#

  • Provide insight into developing applications that provide protection against hackers

If you are building tools for the web, mobile apps, or other development tasks, this book offers a deep dive into C# programming skills. This C# book is separated into six small books and hence makes it easier to grasp all concepts. Let’s have a look at them:

  • Book 1 covers the basics of C# programming and helps you create your first C# Console Application 

  • Book 2 covers Object-Oriented C# Programming

  • Book 3 guides you in C# designing for C#

  • Book 4 gives a tour of Visual Studio

  • Book 5 covers Windows Development with WPF

  • Book 6 covers Web Development with ASP.NET. It guides you to build web applications and leveraging the .NET Framework

This book is a gem for beginners who want to learn C# programming.


Book 5: C# Programming for Absolute Beginners 1st ed.

For this book, I have chosen the C# programming language, which is my number-one language both for professional development and for teaching. It’s about 15 years old, which means its creators could avoid the known flaws of older languages when developing it.

C# Programming for Absolute Beginners

C# Programming for Absolute Beginners by Radek Vystavel was published in December 2017. The book has a task-solution approach and explains everything in a very concise and condensed manner. The book covers the basic concepts of C# programming as well as the most advanced ones.

Most notable about this book is that it is truly for absolute beginners. If you want your hand held through your very-first line of code, this book is for you.

As you go through the book, you will be able to:

  • Understand what programming is all about

  • Write simple, but non-trivial, programs

  • Become familiar with basic programming constructs such as statements, types, variables, conditions, and loops

  • Learn to think like a programmer and combine these programming constructs in new ways

  • Get to know C# as a modern, mainstream programming language, and Visual Studio as one of the world’s most popular programming tools

This C# programming book contains numerous examples that will make it easier for you to understand the topics. If you want to learn C# programming from scratch, then this book is for you. By the end of this book, you will be able to write C# code with skill, style, and complete confidence.


More Ways to Learn C#

The best way to quickly learn any programming language is by fully immersing yourself through multiple forms of input. That’s why I recommend pairing a book with an interactive course.

See the following C# coding courses:

  • Codecademy: Codecademy offers several free and premium (‘Pro’) interactive courses in C#: a free beginner course, a course on building ASP.NET web apps, and an ASP.NET course. See Codecademy’s C# catalog. For more on Codecademy Pro, see my Codecademy Pro review.

  • Udemy: C# Basics for Beginners: Learn C# Fundamentals by Coding is by Mosh Hamedani, an instructor from whom I have taken courses and highly recommend. This popular beginner’s course has over five hours of instruction and over 115,000 five-star reviews.

  • Coursera: Introduction to C# Programming and Unity is a highly-rated course offered by University of Colorado. The course teaches what you need to get started building games with Unity. University of Colorado also offers follow-up, more advanced classes to grow with you as you learn.

If you want to be budget conscious, I have also gathered over 70 free learning resources to help you as you kickstart your programming journey.

I hope these resources are helpful to you and I look forward to seeing you again in another article.


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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