Top 5 Scala Books for Beginners in 2021

Scala is a strong, structural language. The language is operated like building the strong structure of a bridge.

Scala is a strong, structural language. The language is operated like building the strong structure of a bridge.

Scala is a popular programming language that combines object-oriented and functional programming into one concise language. It was created by Martin Odersky in 2004. Scala is compiled to run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and is compatible with existing Java programs.

In this post, we will look at the five best Scala books for novice programmers to help them get mastery over Scala programming.


Why Learn Scala

Here are some reasons why you should start learning Scala:

  • Simple Syntax: Scala has a simple syntax for defining functions and it allows functions to be nested easily.

  • Java Compatible: Scala is compatible with Java. It also supports new technologies like Data Science or Blockchain with its amazing tools.

  • Popular: Tech giants like Twitter are using Scala within production because it works!

  • Community: Scala is good for self-learners due to its open and growing community.

  • Professional Development: Finally, your value will be bigger if you know the Scala programming language well.


What Makes Best Scala Books

Here are our criteria for 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 the Perl 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 Scala

Of course, the list of the best Scala books could go on and on. There are a lot of great books for beginners out there and with a little research, you can find them in no-time. Here are the five best books for beginners to learn Scala programming.


1. Best Book for Completionists: Introduction to Programming and Problem-Solving Using Scala

Introduction to Programming and Problem-Solving Using Scala by Mark C. Lewis and Lisa Lacher aims to become a de facto reference for the language and its features and capabilities. The author highlights the features that make Scala a great programming language to learn.

The book is divided into seventeen chapters and the topics covered in the book includes:

  • Chapter 1 covers the Basics of Computers, Computing, and Programming

  • Chapter 2 covers Scala Basics

  • Chapter 3 covers Conditionals

  • Chapter 4 covers Functions

  • Chapter 5 talks about Recursion for Iteration

  • Chapter 6 covers Arrays and Lists in Scala

  • Chapter 7 talks about Type Basics and Argument Passing

  • Chapter 8 covers Loops

  • Chapter 9 covers Text files

  • Chapter 10 covers Case Classes

  • Chapter 11 talks about GUIs

  • Chapter 12 covers Graphics and Advanced ScalaFX

  • Chapter 13 talks about Sorting and Searching

  • Chapter 14 covers XML

  • Chapter 15 covers Recursion

  • Chapter 16 talks about Object-Orientation

  • Chapter 17: Wrapping up

The book is filled with end-of-chapter projects and exercises for hands-on learning. It is ideal for someone new to scala programming.


2. Best Book for Step-by-step Learners: Programming in Scala

Programming in Scala by Martin Odersky, Lex Spoon, and Bill Venners is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to learning Scala 2.13. It covers every concept of Scala starting from fundamentals and builds to advanced scala programming techniques.

The book is divided into thirty-five chapters and includes the following 

  • Classes and Objects 

  • Basic Types and Operations 

  • Functional Objects 

  • Built-in Control Structures 

  • Functions and Closures 

  • Control Abstraction 

  • Composition and Inheritance 

  • Scala's Hierarchy 

  • Traits 

  • Packages and Imports 

  • Assertions and Tests

  • Case Classes and Pattern Matching

  • Working with Lists and Other Collections 

  • Mutable Objects 

  • Type Parameterization 

  • Abstract Members 

  • Implicit Conversions and Parameters 

  • Implementing Lists 

  • For Expressions Revisited 

  • Collections in Depth

  • Extractors 

  • Annotations 

  • Working with XML 

  • Modular Programming Using Objects 

  • Object Equality 

  • Combining Scala and Java 

  • Futures and Concurrency 

  • Combinator Parsing 

  • GUI Programming 

  • The SCells Spreadsheet

The entire book is organized in a series of steps so that each new concept builds on concepts that came from the previous one. The book is easy to follow and includes practical exercises.

It is a complete book to learn and master Scala programming for newbies and experienced programmers.


3. Best Book for Quick Learners: Scala for the Impatient

Scala for the Impatient by Cay Horstmann introduces the key Scala 2.12 concepts and techniques you need to be productive quickly. The book includes carefully crafted examples and hands-on activities to guide you through well-defined stages of competency, from basic to expert.

The book has a straightforward writing style and includes exercises and practical examples to give you a real-world view of Scala programming. After reading the book, you will be able to

  • Get started quickly with Scala’s interpreter, syntax, tools, and unique idioms

  • Master core language features: functions, arrays, maps, tuples, packages, imports, exception handling, and more

  • Become familiar with object-oriented programming in Scala: classes, inheritance, and traits

  • Use Scala for real-world programming tasks: working with files, regular expressions, and XML

  • Work with higher-order functions and the powerful Scala collections library

  • Leverage Scala’s powerful pattern matching and case classes

  • Create concurrent programs with Scala futures

  • Implement domain-specific languages

  • Understand the Scala type system

  • Apply advanced “power tools,” such as annotations, implicits, and type classes

The book is a perfect introduction to Scala programming for impatient readers.


4. Best Book for Visual Learners: Learning Scala: Practical Functional Programming for the JVM

Learning Scala: Practical Functional Programming for the JVM by Jason Swartz provides a comprehensive yet approachable introduction to the Scala language. 

This book includes step by step learning while knowing how things work in JVM. It is packed with syntax diagrams, examples, and exercises.

  • Learn about the core data types, literals, values, and variables

  • Discover how to think and write in expressions, the foundation for Scala's syntax

  • Write higher-order functions that accept or return other functions

  • Become familiar with immutable data structures and easily transform them with type-safe and declarative operations

  • Create custom infix operators to simplify existing operations or even to start your domain-specific language

  • Build classes that compose one or more traits for full reusability, or create new functionality by mixing them in at instantiation

The book doesn’t assume any serious pre-requisites and is quite self-contained. It is an excellent first book for someone who is just looking to learn the language.


5. Best Book for Hands-on Learners: Hands-on Scala Programming: Learn Scala in a Practical, Project-Based Way

Hands-on Scala by Li Haoyi teaches you how to use the Scala programming language in a practical, project-based fashion. The book gives an introduction to the Scala language and goes heavily into use cases and projects.

The book is divided into twenty chapters and the contents include:

  • Chapter 1 covers Hands-on Scala

  • Chapter 2 covers Setting Up

  • Chapter 3 talks about Basic Scala

  • Chapter 4 covers Scala Collections

  • Chapter 5 covers Notable Scala Features

  • Chapter 6 talks about Implementing Algorithms in Scala

  • Chapter 7 covers Files and Subprocesses

  • Chapter 8 talks about JSON and Binary Data Serialization

  • Chapter 9 covers Self-Contained Scala Scripts

  • Chapter 10 talks about Static Build Pipelines

  • Chapter 11 covers Scraping Websites

  • Chapter 12 covers Working with HTTP APIs

  • Chapter 13 talks about Fork-Join Parallelism with Futures

  • Chapter 14 covers Simple Web and API Servers

  • Chapter 15 covers Querying SQL Databases

  • Chapter 16 covers Message-based Parallelism with Actors

  • Chapter 17 talks about Multi-Process Applications

  • Chapter 18 covers Building a Real-time File Synchronizer

  • Chapter 19 talks about Parsing Structured Text

  • Chapter 20 talks about Implementing a Programming Language

In the process, you will learn how to use the Scala language to solve challenging problems elegantly and intuitively.


More Ways to Learn

The world of Scala programming is in constant growth and the learning opportunities are simply endless!

While learning, I always recommend doubling up on resources so that you do not burn out on just reading. Using all of the senses and changing your environment is the best way to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Here are some more ways you can learn:

And there’s one last things: I’ve compiled over 70 free learning resources for beginner programmers to help you continue your journey. I hope to see you over there and have a wonderful day. 😊

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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