9 Best Java Books for Beginners in 2023

Java inscription against laptop and code background

Java is a powerful general-purpose programming language that was initially developed at Sun Microsystems in 1995. It's one of the most commonly used programming languages in the world and is used by millions of developers. Java is known for being applicable across a wide range of contexts and on almost every kind of computer imaginable. 

There are so many great Java 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 the best Java 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 Java?

Is Java a good programming language to start with? Is it a good first language for beginners? Well, there are lots of reasons for beginners to learn Java. Here are a couple of reasons why learning Java is a great investment in your future. 

Here are some of the reasons you may want to learn Java:


Java is easy to learn and is beginner-friendly. It has fluent English like syntax with minimum magic characters e.g., Generics angle brackets. Once a programmer is familiar with initial hurdles, it’s quite easy to write a program in Java.


Java language is independent of platforms, so you can run Java code on any device.

Low Barrier to Access

All beginner programmers prefer free things. Since Java is free from the start, you don't need to pay anything to create a Java application.


The sky is the limit for what you can build with Java. It can be used for a large number of things, including software development, mobile applications, and large systems development. 

Rich API

Java has a rich API, and you can do a lot more with Java including graphics, sound, and most likely writing small games.


Java is everywhere! It is used for the Internet of Things and APIs, in big data technologies, e-commerce websites, high-frequency financial trading platforms, and scientific applications. 

Career Opportunity

If you want to boost your career opportunities and income, you can get tons of jobs opportunity by learning the Java programming language.


Java has strong and thriving community support and you will find great learning resources online to polish your skills.


What Makes the Best Java Books?

To help you in selecting a well-structured and latest Java book for beginners, we have narrowed it down to the top 9 best Java books for beginners. 

Here are our criteria for the selection of 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 Java programming language.

  • 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 on Java

Books make up the primary mode of learning. With so many books out there to learn Java, the readers are left confused deciding which one to buy.

Here are several excellent books for learning Java:


1. Best Book for Pragmatists: Learning Java: An Introduction to Real-World Programming with Java

Learning Java: An Introduction to Real-World Programming with Java by Marc Loy, Patrick Niemeyer, and Daniel Leuck contains everything you need to become a master of Java programming language. As you go through the book, you will develop a deep understanding of the fundamentals of Java 11 and its APIs.

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.

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

  • Develop with Java, using the compiler, interpreter, and other tools

  • Explore Java’s built-in thread facilities and concurrency package

  • Learn text processing and the powerful regular expressions API

  • Write advanced networked or web-based applications and services

If you’re new to Java, this book will help you to learn core Java language features included in recent Java versions. You will know powerful new ways to learn the Java language, its class libraries, programming techniques, and idioms. 

The book contains fun, compelling, and realistic examples that make it easy to read. You can learn the basics of the language as well as some useful programming techniques and new trends in Java.


2. Best Book for Completionists: Sams Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days

Sams Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days by Rogers Cadenhead cover Java 11/12 and is a must-read book for every Java developer. If you are just getting started with Java, you can acquire the knowledge and skills from this book that are necessary to develop applications on your computer, web servers, and mobile devices. 

The book is divided into twenty-one lessons. 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 lessons are:

  • Lesson 1 covers an introduction and how to get started with Java

  • Lesson 2 talks about the ABC of programming

  • Lesson 3 guides you in working with objects

  • Lesson 4 covers Lists, Logic, and Loops

  • Lesson 5 talks about Creating Classes and Methods

  • Lesson 6 covers Packages, Interfaces, and Other Class Features

  • Lesson 7 talks about Exceptions and Threads

  • Lesson 8 covers Data Structures

  • Lesson 9 talks about creating a Graphical User Interface (GUI)

  • Lesson 10 guides you on building an Interface

  • Lesson 11 talks about arranging Components on a User Interface

  • Lesson 12 guides you on responding to User Input

  • Lesson 13 talks about Creating Java2D Graphics

  • Lesson 14 covers Developing Swing Applications

  • Lesson 15  talks about using Inner Classes and Lambda Expressions

  • Lesson 16 covers Streams and working with Input and Output

  • Lesson 17 covers networking in Java and Communicating Over HTTP

  • Lesson 18 guides you on Accessing Databases with JDBC and Derby

  • Lesson 19 covers Reading and Writing RSS Feeds

  • Lesson 20 guides you in making Web Service Requests

  • Lesson 21 talks about writing a Game with Java

Each lesson ends with a Workshop section filled with questions, answers, and exercises for further study. No previous programming experience is required. You will quickly master the basics and then move on to more advanced features and concepts. This book is completely updated for Java 11 and 12 and is an absolute stepping stone for a budding programmer.


3. Best Book for Quick Start: Java in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference

Java in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference by Benjamin J. Evans and David Flanagan has everything that a novice developer needs to know.  The updated seventh edition covers versions 9 through 11.

The book has thirteen chapters and is divided into two sections. The first section provides a fast-paced, no-fluff introduction to the Java programming language and the core runtime aspects of the Java platform. The second section is a reference to core concepts and APIs that explains how to perform real programming work in the Java environment.

The contents covered in these chapters are:

  • Chapter 1 covers an introduction to the Java Environment

  • Chapter 2 covers Java Syntax from the Ground Up

  • Chapter 3 talks about Object-Oriented Programming in Java

  • Chapter 4 talks about the Java Type System

  • Chapter 5 covers an introduction to Object-Oriented Design in Java

  • Chapter 6 covers Java’s Approach to Memory and Concurrency

  • Chapter 7 covers Programming and Documentation Conventions

  • Chapter 8 guides you in working with Java Collections

  • Chapter 9 guides you in Handling Common Data Formats

  • Chapter 10 covers File Handling and I/O

  • Chapter 11 covers Classloading, Reflection and Method Handles

  • Chapter 12 covers Java Platform Modules

  • Chapter 13 covers platform-tools

The book has a brief and good presentation with a good description of modern tools. So if you are on a journey to master Java, this book is a perfect match for you.


More books you may like:


4. Best Book for Deep Divers: Java: A Beginner's Guide 

Java: A Beginner's Guide by Herbert Schildt will deepen your understanding of Java origins and its relations to other programming languages. It comes with extensive hands-on exercises as well as a quiz section at the end of each chapter. 

The book covers all concepts pertains to Core Java and the latest edition is fully revised to include Java 11 SE. The book has sixteen chapters and the topics covered in the book are:

  • Chapter 1 covers Java Fundamentals

  • Chapter 2 introduces Data Types and Operators

  • Chapter 3 covers Program Control Statements

  • Chapter 4 introduces Classes, Objects, and Methods

  • Chapter 5 talks about More Data Types and Operators

  • Chapter 6 gives a closer look at Methods and Classes

  • Chapter 7 covers Inheritance

  • Chapter 8 covers Packages and Interfaces

  • Chapter 9 talk about Exception Handling

  • Chapter 10 covers concepts about using I/O

  • Chapter 11 covers Multithreaded Programming

  • Chapter 12 covers Enumerations, Autoboxing, Static Import and Annotations

  • Chapter 13 talks about Generics

  • Chapter 14 talks about Lambda Expressions and Method References

  • Chapter 15 covers Modules

  • Chapter 16 introduces Swing

So if you are on a journey to master Java, then this is the book I would recommend.


5. Best Book for Easy learning: Java For Dummies

Java For Dummies by Dr. Barry Burd has everything that a novice developer needs to know. You will learn the major things you need to start with Java coding and can easily write a program by reading examples step-by-step.

The book is comprised of 560 pages and covers many questions and exercises to reinforce your understanding of Java. The reader will find step-by-step instructions on handling Java classes and methods, understanding the value of variables, and controlling program flow. As you go through the book, you will be able to:

  • Discover the latest features and tools in Java 9

  • Learn to combine several smaller programs to create a bigger program

  • Create basic Java objects and reuse code

  • Confidently handle exceptions and events

This book is well-structured and easy to understand. For starters, it is simple and kind of fun to read. 


6. Best for Generalists: Modern Programming Made Easy: Using Java, Scala, Groovy, and JavaScript

Modern Programming Made Easy: Using Java, Scala, Groovy, and JavaScript by Adam Davis guides you to learn programming in an easy, non-stressful way. The book mainly covers Java with some references to Groovy, Scala, and JavaScript. It teaches you basic coding principles, including working with lists, sets, arrays, and maps; coding in the object-oriented style; and writing a web application. 

The book gives you a broad range of examples to consider. You will get a taste of what modern programming has to offer and set yourself up for further study and growth in your chosen language. The book is divided into twenty-one chapters that are well designed and simple to understand. As you go through the book, you will be able to:

  • Write code using the functional programming style

  • Build your code using the latest releases of Java, Groovy, and more

  • Test your code

  • Read and write from files

  • Design user interfaces

  • Deploy your app in the cloud

This book is suitable for anyone who wants to learn how to code. 

7. Best Book for Java Fundamentals: Core Java Volume 1 - Fundamentals

Core Java Volume 1 - Fundamentals is an eleventh edition written by Cay S. Horstmann. This reference book for Java offers detailed explanations of Core Java. Readers will learn more about exception handling, interfaces, and lambda expressions.

Other highlights of this Java programming book include simple language and conciseness, and it offers detailed real world examples.

Core Java Volume 1 allows Java programmers to develop the ability to write robust and maintainable code.

Other content regarding Java concepts readers can find in this reference book includes:

  • Foundational techniques, idioms, and best practices

  • Shows you how to leverage the power of interfaces, lambda expressions, and inner classes

  • Learn how to write safer and more usable code

  • Teaches how to build cross-platform GUIs with the Swing toolkit

8. Best Book for Practical Guidance: Effective Java

Effective Java by Joshua Bloch is a good book to have if you are an ardent Java developer or programmer looking to refine your skills or aspire to learn more efficient Java code. The Effective Java book covers 78 best practices that help make Java programming concepts and coding easier to understand.

There are 11 distinct sections covered in this book including Java Concurrency, Generics, and Methods. These programming basics make it easier for the reader to grasp. Effective Java is also suitable for Java programmers of any skill level—from Java beginners to experienced Java programmers.

This complete reference guide includes sections on the following, providing you with more in-depth knowledge:

  • Creating and destroying objects

  • Methods common to all objects

  • Classes and interfaces

  • Generics

  • Enums and annotations

  • Lambdas and streams

  • Methods

  • General programming

  • Exceptions

  • Java concurrency utilities

  • Serialization

9. Best Book for Those Starting Their Java Journey: Head First Java

Head First Java Second Edition by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates is often referred to as the Java programming bible. It is one of the best-selling Java books of all time because it provides readers access to information every Java programmer needs to know.

Most of the best Java programming books these days target those further along in their Java journey. However, the Head First design patterns in this book take problems into consideration that many beginning programming learners run into.

Head First Java includes vintage pictures, puzzles, code exercises, brain teasers, and so much more, allowing for more effective learning while providing a better basic understanding of Java language syntax.

Among its many chapters, you will find:

  • Chapter One: Breaking the Surface

  • Chapter Two: A Trip to Objectville

  • Chapter Three: Know Your Variables

  • Chapter Four: How Objects Behave

  • Chapter Five: Extra-Strength Methods

  • Chapter Six: Using the Java Library

  • Chapter Seven: Better Living in Objectville

  • Chapter Eight: Serious Polymorphism

  • Chapter Nine: Life and Death of an Object

  • Chapter Ten: Numbers Matter

  • Chapter Eleven: Risky Behavior

  • Chapter Twelve: A Very Graphic Story

  • Chapter Thirteen: Work on Your Swing

  • Chapter Fourteen: Saving Objects

  • Chapter Fifteen: Make a Connection

  • Chapter Sixteen: Data Structures

  • Chapter Seventeen: Release Your Code

  • Chapter Eighteen: Distributed Computing


Can You Really Learn Java from a Book?

Yes! If you are serious about learning Java, you can learn a ton of essential Java programming knowledge about class, object, thread, collection, and language features from some of the best Java books available.

Make sure you choose a book that provides you with a thorough introduction to the world of Java and takes you along with practical, real world examples.

More Ways to Learn Java

Aiming to learn Java quickly and efficiently? Our brain responds well to multiple forms of input, which is why pairing your book with an interactive course will boost your learning substantially.

Here are some great courses to consider:

  • Codecademy:

  • Has tons of free and premium (‘Pro’), interactive courses on Java. Courses include building Android apps, studying for the (Java-based) Computer Science AP exam, studying for the technical interview in Java, and more. For a full list of Java courses, see Codecademy Java. For more on Codecademy Pro, see my Codecademy Pro review.

  • Coursera:

  • Java Programming: Solving Problems with Software is a highly-rated course provided by the world-class, prestigious school, Duke University.

  • Udemy:

  • Java Programming Masterclass for Software Developers is an insanely packed course with over 80 hours of video instruction and over 140,000 five-star reviews. If you want to buy one class and one class only, this is it. The course is constantly being updated and kept fresh.

I hope these course recommendations are valuable for you. But if you’re on a budget, I have also compiled over 70 free learning resources for you to check out. I hope you enjoyed this article and look forward to seeing you in the next one.


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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