8 Best Books on Designing Elegant REST APIs in 2024

REST is an acronym and has nothing to do with relaxation. It stands for ‘representational state transfer’. Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash

REST is an acronym and has nothing to do with relaxation. It stands for ‘representational state transfer’. Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash

REST — also known as RESTful Web Services — has become the standard style for developing web services along with GraphQL.

REST stands for 'representational state transfer.' A RESTful API is an architectural style for an Application Program Interface (API) that uses HTTP requests to access and use data. REST relies on a stateless, client-server protocol and in almost all cases it’s going to be HTTP.

Are you looking for the best RESTful API books? This article discusses some must-read books on RESTful APIs that suit your requirements. Let's get started.


Why Learn RESTful APIs

REST technology is generally preferred over other similar technologies. Here are a few reasons why you should learn RESTful APIs:

  • Easy to Learn and Implement: REST uses HTTP methods for communication and that makes it easy to learn. REST reduces the complexity of the application and things become easier for the developers.

  • Scalability: REST stands out due to its scalability. The separation of client and server in REST architecture allows the developers to scale apps more easily.

  • Caching is easier: REST aims to make caching easier. The server is stateless and each request can be processed individually,

  • Flexibility and Portability: REST API gives a lot of flexibility to the user. Also, you can easily transfer the data from one server to another server. It also allows you to hosts the back and front end on different servers.

More recently, GraphQL has become a popular alternative to REST. You may also be interested in reading and learning from books on GraphQL.


What Makes Best Books on RESTful APIs?

When looking for the best books to learn RESTful APIs, one question to ask is this: what makes the best books on RESTful APIs?

Here are our criteria to select books on RESTful APIs:

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

  • The book is concise and easy to understand.

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

  • Engaging and able to hold the attention of readers.

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


Best Books on RESTful APIs 

When it comes to learning RESTful APIs, books have become the best source for learning them. Enjoy our list of six best books on RESTful APIs.


1. Best book for hands-on learners: Hands-On RESTful API Design Patterns and Best Practices

Hands-On RESTful API Design Patterns and Best Practices by Harihara Subramanian and Pethuru Raj is one of the best REST API books for beginners. The book helps you to build effective RESTful APIs for enterprises with design patterns and REST framework’s out-of-the-box capabilities.

The insightful book helps to understand advanced topics such as API gateways, API securities, and cloud. You will be able to implement patterns programmatically with easy-to-follow examples. Here's what you will learn from the book:

  • Introduction to the Basics of RESTful Architecture

  • Design Strategy, Guidelines, and Best Practices

  • Essential RESTful API Patterns

  • Advanced RESTful API Patterns

  • Microservice API Gateways

  • RESTful Services API Testing and Security

  • RESTful Service Composition for Smart Applications

  • RESTful API Design Tips

  • A More In-depth View of the RESTful Services Paradigm

  • Frameworks, Standard Languages, and Toolkits

  • Legacy Modernization to Microservices-centric Apps

The book is divided into eleven chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1 gives you an introduction to the Basics of RESTful Architecture

  • Chapter 2 covers Design Strategy, Guidelines, and Best Practices

  • Chapter 3 talks about Essential RESTful API Patterns

  • Chapter 4 talks about Advanced RESTful API Patterns

  • Chapter 5 covers Microservice API Gateways

  • Chapter 6 talks about RESTful Services API Testing and Security

  • Chapter 7 covers RESTful Service Composition for Smart Applications

  • Chapter 8 gives you RESTful API Design Tips

  • Chapter 9 highlights a more in-depth view of the RESTful Services Paradigm

  • Chapter 10 covers Frameworks, Standard Languages, and Toolkits

  • Chapter 11 talks about Legacy Modernization to Microservices-centric Apps

By the end of the book, you’ll be empowered with all that you need to create highly flexible APIs for next-generation RESTful services and applications.


2. Best book for serious learners: RESTful API Design

RESTful API Design: Best Practices in API Design with REST by Matthias Biehl is packed with best practices on technical aspects of RESTful API Design. The book introduces the two most common API description languages RAML and OpenAPI/Swagger.

The REST concepts are well explained with many examples. You will learn a customer-centric design and development approach for APIs. This highly informative guide is well-structured, easy to read and follow, and quite detailed. As a reader of this book, you have free access to the API-University Best Practice Newsletter and amazing bonus material.

The book is divided into twelve chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1 gives you an introduction 

  • Chapter 2 covers Consumer-Oriented API Design: APIs as Products

  • Chapter 3 talks about API Design and Development Approach

  • Chapter 4 covers API Design with API Description Languages

  • Chapter 5 talks about API Architectural Design Decisions

  • Chapter 6 gives an introduction to REST

  • Chapter 7 talks about API Frontend Design Decisions

  • Chapter 8 covers OpenAPI/Swagger for API Frontend Design

  • Chapter 9 covers RAML for API Frontend Design

  • Chapter 10 talks about API Backend Design Decisions

  • Chapter 11 covers Non-Functional Properties of APIs

  • Chapter 12 talks about API Client Design

The book is full of practical advice and walks you through the important decisions you need to make when building an API. If you are looking for best practices for RESTful APIs, this book is for you!


More books you may like:


3. Best book for total beginners: Undisturbed REST: a Guide to Designing the Perfect API

Undisturbed REST: a Guide to Designing the Perfect API by Michael Stowe is a great beginner’s book for introducing yourself to REST APIs. You’ll learn how they work and how to connect to other APIs with live code examples. The book helps you to understand APIs, best practices, and available tooling for designing, prototyping, sharing, documenting, and generating tooling around your API.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to equip yourself with the knowledge to build an API that can be easily be integrated and extended

  • Modern design techniques and more complex concepts such as REST and hypermedia as the engine of application state (HATEOAS)

  • Best practices around how to plan, design, build, manage and share your APIs

The book includes the following chapters:

  • What is an API

  • Planning Your API

  • Designing the Spec

  • Using RAML

  • Prototyping and Agile Testing

  • Authorization and Authentication

  • Designing Your Resources

  • Designing Your Methods

  • Handling Responses

  • Adding Hypermedia

  • Managing with a Proxy

  • Documenting and Sharing Your API

  • A Final Thought

You will get valuable tips for designing your own API from scratch. This book is a gem for those who are new to the world of APIs.


4. Best book for Java developers: RESTful Java Web Services

RESTful Java Web Services by Bogunuva Mohanram Balachandar is a pragmatic guide to designing and building RESTful APIs using Java. This book attempts to familiarize the reader with the concepts of REST. 

After reading the book, you will be able to: 

  • Introduce yourself to the RESTful software architectural style and the REST API design principles

  • Make use of the JSR 353 API, JSR 374 API, JSR 367 API and Jackson API for JSON processing

  • Build portable RESTful web APIs, making use of the JAX-RS 2.1 API

  • Simplify API development using Jersey and RESTEasy extension APIs

  • Secure your RESTful web services with various authentication and authorization mechanisms

  • Get to grips with the various metadata solutions to describe, produce, and consume RESTful web services

The book helps to understand the design and coding guidelines to build well-performing RESTful APIs. The reader will see how the role of RESTful web services changes with emerging technologies and trends.

The contents covered book in the book are:

  • Chapter 1 introduces RESTful Architecture

  • Chapter 2 covers Java APIs for JSON Processing

  • Chapter 3 introduces JAX-RS API

  • Chapter 4 talks about advanced features in JAX-RS API

  • Chapter 5 introduces JAX-RS Implementation Framework Extensions

  • Chapter 6 talks about securing RESTful Web Services

  • Chapter 7 covers Description and Discovery of RESTful Web Services

  • Chapter 8 talks about RESTful API Design Guidelines

  • Chapter 9 covers RESTful Services Role in Emerging Technologies

  • Chapter 10 talks about useful features and techniques and tools for building a JAX-RS application

By the end of this book, you will be able to efficiently build robust, scalable, and secure RESTful web services using Java APIs.


5. Best book for Node.js developers: REST API Development with Node.js

REST API Development with Node.js by Fernando Doglio helps you manage and understand the full capabilities of successful REST development. The book gives a brief background on REST and the tools it provides. You will learn about the maintained modules currently available in the npm community, including Express, Restify, Vatican, and Swagger.

This completely updated second edition is divided into ten chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1 covers REST 101

  • Chapter 2 covers API Design Best Practices

  • Chapter 3 covers Node.js and REST

  • Chapter 4 talks about architecting a REST API

  • Chapter 5 talks about working with Modules

  • Chapter 6 talks about planning your REST API

  • Chapter 7 talks about developing Your REST API

  • Chapter 8 talks about testing your API

  • Chapter 9 talks about deploying into Production

  • Chapter 10 covers Troubleshooting

After reading the book, you will be able to

  • Understand how REST and API development mix up with Node.js

  • Create a scalable, technology agnostic, and uniform interface

  • Prepare your services to be consumed by your clients

  • Test and deploy your API

  • Review troubleshooting techniques


6. Best book for Dummies: The API: 3rd Edition

The API: 3rd Edition by Sergey Konstantinov describes the best practices in designing and developing APIs. It comprises six sections dedicated to:

  • The API design

  • API patterns

  • Backwards compatibility


  • SDKs and UI libraries

  • API product management

Some of the key concepts discussed in the book are:

  • API-first development

  • Semantic versioning

  • Separating abstraction layers

  • Synchronization strategies, optimistic concurrency control, and eventual consistency in APIs

  • Bidirectional data flows, push and poll models

  • Strong and weak coupling of API entities

  • The REST architectural style compared to modern RPC frameworks such as gRPC and GraphQL

  • Components of an HTTP request and their semantics

  • Designing a URL nomenclature and CRUD operations

  • MVC, MVP, and other approaches to decomposing UI components

  • API business models

  • Identifying Users and Preventing Fraud


7. Best book for Web Developers: Modern API Development with Spring 6 and Spring Boot 3: Design scalable, viable, and reactive APIs with REST, gRPC, and GraphQL

Modern API Development with Spring 6 and Spring Boot 3 by Sourabh Sharma helps you to enhance your application's functionality through hands-on learning for designing, testing, securing, deploying, and maintaining production-ready APIs. The book covers a wide range of topics that are essential for API development, including RESTful web service fundamentals, Spring concepts, and API specifications. It also explores asynchronous API design, security, designing user interfaces, testing APIs, and the deployment of web services.

The book offers a highly contextual real-world sample app that you can use as a reference for building different types of APIs for real-world applications.

Here’s what you’ll get from the book:

  • Create enterprise-level APIs using Spring and Java

  • Understand and implement REST, gRPC, GraphQL, and asynchronous APIs for various purposes

  • Develop real-world web APIs and services, from design to deployment

  • Expand your knowledge of API specifications and implementation best practices

  • Design and implement secure APIs with authorization and authentication

  • Develop microservices-based solutions with workflow and orchestration engines

  • Acquire proficiency in designing and testing user interfaces for APIs

  • Implement logging and tracing mechanisms in your services and APIs

By the end of this book, you'll have learned how to design, develop, test, and deploy scalable and maintainable modern APIs.

This book is for novice Java programmers, computer science graduates, coding boot camp alumni, and newcomers to the realm of creating real-world web APIs and services.


8. Best short book: Learning Api Rest: Master the Art of Building Scalable and Secure RESTful APIs

Learning API REST by Aldo Barrios Vazquez provides a comprehensive introduction to building RESTful APIs. The book covers topics such as HTTP fundamentals, designing RESTful APIs, handling authentication and authorization, working with different data formats, testing APIs, and deploying APIs.

The short book is written for developers who are new to building APIs or those who want to improve their skills in this area. The book uses practical examples and case studies to illustrate the concepts covered, and includes exercises and quizzes to reinforce learning.

It also provides guidance on best practices and common pitfalls to avoid when building APIs. Overall, "Learning API REST" is a practical guide that equips developers with the knowledge and skills needed to build robust, scalable, and secure RESTful APIs.


More ways to learn REST APIs

It’s a known fact that programmers and developers are lifelong learners. These best books on RESTful APIs provide a broad tour of Restful APIs from several different points of view.

If you are not really into books you can check out these courses:

If you’re interested in learning more about building web servers, you may be interested in books on Node & Express or even books on GraphQL. Hope to see you in those articles and thank you for reading until the end.

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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