Top 10 Java Books you don't want to miss.

We learn by reading books and experimenting on it.  So, it is imperative that you choose the best available options. In this post I would like to share my experience with some of the books and how they can help you evolve as a Java Developer.

Lets start from the floor, the first 3 books are a good starting point for any Java student. Java Programming Language helps you to get yourself familiar with Java, where Head First will help you stick the Java concepts into your brain, so that you will never forget them. I have chosen Thinking In Java 3rd book in this category but Java the Complete Reference By Herbert Schildt and Java in a nutshell  By David Flanagan are good substitutes. These books are more of a reference than a must read.

1. Java Programming Language By Ken Arnold, James Gosling, David Holmes
                Direct from the creators of the Java, The Java Programming Language is an indispensible resource for novice and advanced programmers alike. Developers around the world have used previous editions to quickly gain deep understanding of the Java programming language, its design goals, and how to use it most effectively in real-world development. The authors systematically conver most classes in Java's main packages, java.lang.*, java.util, and, presenting in-depth explanations of why these classes work as they do, with informative examples. Several new chapters and major sections have been added, and every chapter has been updated to reflect today's best practices for building robust, efficient, and maintainable Java software.

Above are extracts from the book index page.

2. Head First Java By Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
                Its unique approach not only shows you what you need to know about Java syntax, it enables and encourages you to think like a Java programmer. Mastering object oriented programming requires a certain way of thinking, not just a certain way of writing code. The latest research in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology shows that learning at the deeper levels takes a lot more than text on a page. Actively combining words and pictures not only helps in understanding the subject, but in remembering it. According to some studies, an engaging, entertaining, image-rich, conversational approach actually teaches the subject better. Head First Java puts these theories into practice with a vengeance.

Above lines are copied from Google books read more here.
3. Thinking In Java By Bruce Eckel
                Eckel introduces all the basics of objects as Java uses them, then walks carefully through the fundamental concepts underlying all Java programming -- including program flow, initialization and cleanup, implementation hiding, reusing classes, and polymorphism. Using extensive, to-the-point examples, he introduces exception handling, Java I/O, run-time type identification, and passing and returning objects. Eckel also provides an overview of the Key Technology of the Java2 Enterprise Edition platform (J2EE).

Above lines are copied from Google books read more here.               

I am not a big fan of SCJP Exam, but A Programmer's Guide to Java SCJP Certification is much more than a certification guide. It gives you an insight in to Java, the tips and tricks. SCJP Sun Certified Programmer for Java 5 Study Guide  By Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates is a go to book if you are mad about SCJP. Better to read these books than spending time in reading question dumps, these books will help you much more than clearing the exam in your career.
4. A Programmer's Guide to Java SCJP Certification: A Comprehensive Primer By Khalid Azim Mughal, Rolf Rasmussen
                 This book will help you prepare for and pass the Sun Certified Programmer for the Java Platform SE 6 (CX-310-065) Exam. It is written for any experienced programmer (with or without previous knowledge of Java) interested in mastering the Java programming language. It contains in-depth explanations of the language features. Their usage is illustrated by way of code scenarios, as required by the exam. Numerous exam-relevant review questions to test your understanding of each major topic, with annotated answers Programming exercises and solutions at the end of each chapter Copious code examples illustrating concepts, where the code has been compiled and thoroughly tested on multiple platforms Program output demonstrating expected results from running the examples Extensive use of UML (Unified Modelling Language) for illustration purposes

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OK, so you got to know Java and been working in it for couple of years its time to take the next step. Everything in this world has good and bad. Java language if not used the way is supposed to be, can make your life miserable. When you write code, its written for future. Writing good Java code is an art that needs lot more skill than knowledge of basic Java. Here I would like to introduce the next set of 4 books that can make you a master in the trade.
The Pragmatic Programmer is not really a Java book but is a self help book for any programmer. It is a great book covering various aspects of software development and is capable in transforming you to a Pragmatic Programmer.
5. The Pragmatic Programmer, From Journeyman To Master By Andrew Hunt, David Thomas

                Written as a series of self-contained sections and filled with entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies, The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development. Whether you're a new coder, an experienced programmer, or a manager responsible for software projects, use these lessons daily, and you'll quickly see improvements in personal productivity, accuracy, and job satisfaction. You'll learn skills and develop habits and attitudes that form the foundation for long-term success in your career. You'll become a Pragmatic Programmer.
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So, we wrote code. It is time to add some style. The elements of Java style is one of the earliest documentation on the style part of Java including its various aspects.
6. The elements of Java style By Scott Ambler, Alan Vermeulen

                 Many books explain the syntax and basic use of Java; however, this essential guide explains not only what you can do with the syntax, but what you ought to do. While illustrating these rules with parallel examples of correct and incorrect usage, the authors offer a collection of standards, conventions, and guidelines for writing solid Java code that will be easy to understand, maintain, and enhance. Java developers and programmers who read this book will write better Java code, and become more productive as well.

Above lines are copied from Google books read more here.

Now, we know how to write code in style. But is it best is class? Does it uses the best practices? Effective Java is one of the best book on best practices is a favourite book for many Java developers.
7. Effective Java By Joshua Bloch

                Joshua  brings together seventy-eight indispensable programmer's rules of thumb: working, best-practice solutions for the programming challenges you encounter every day. Bloch explores new design patterns and language idioms, showing you how to make the most of features ranging from generics to enums,  annotations to autoboxing. Each chapter in the book consists of several “items” presented in the form of a short, standalone essay that provides specific advice, insight into Java platform subtleties, and outstanding code examples. The comprehensive descriptions and explanations for each item illuminate what to do, what not to do, and why.

Above lines are copied from Google books read more here

Then, you know the good, it is time for the bad stuff. Bitter Java is one of the first book to bring up the Anti-patters in Java. There are various articles and books on Anti-patterns and code smells and is an area where there is lots of space to learn. There are many other books on this topic I am adding this book as a starting point.
8. Bitter Java By Bruce Tate

                Intended for intermediate Java programmers, analysts, and architects, this guide is a comprehensive analysis of common server-side Java programming traps (called anti-patterns) and their causes and resolutions. Based on a highly successful software conference presentation, this book is grounded on the premise that software programmers enjoy learning not from successful techniques and design patterns, but from bad programs, designs, and war stories -- bitter examples. These educational techniques of graphically illustrating good programming practices through negative designs and anti-patterns also have one added benefit: they are fun.
Above lines are copied from Google books read more here

Many say you need to know Design Patterns, if you want grow as a developer. So I thought of mentioning the best Design pattern book that I have read. It is not a reference book nor it contains the patters catalogue but the book explains the Object Oriented Design Principles that are as important as the patters. Use the book Design patterns: elements of reusableobject-oriented software if you are looking for a reference book.
9. Head First design patterns By Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Freeman, Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates

                You know you don't want to reinvent the wheel (or worse, a flat tire), so you look to Design Patterns--the lessons learned by those who've faced the same problems. With Design Patterns, you get to take advantage of the best practices and experience of others. Using the latest research in neurobiology, cognitive science, and learning theory, Head First Design Patterns will load patterns into your brain in a way that sticks. In a way that lets you put them to work immediately. In a way that makes you better at solving software design problems, and better at speaking the language of patterns with others on your team.
Above lines are copied from Google books read more here

If your are a master at coding and designing application using Java its time to crack the JVM. I have read that 'The Java language specification' is the best book to do that. I have not got the patience or skill to read the book but is an interesting pick if you want to cross the line.
10. The Java language specification

                The book provides complete, accurate, and detailed coverage of the Java programming language. It provides full coverage of all new features added in since the previous edition including generics, annotations, asserts, autoboxing, enums, for each loops, variables,  methods and static import clauses.

Above are extracts from the book index page.

In these web-years online resources may be more reachable than books, but I fell these books will help in tuning you to a better Java programmer.


  1. I like your review approach. Very hands-on! We have a similar set here that your readers may find useful as well:

    1. Great list. Here is one more list of some great Java programming books, I guess these are not free but worth including in any Java programmer's shelf.

  2. Good collections, you have almost included every possible popular book in Java be it head first java or effective Java but I didn't understand the order, is it order listed based upon readability? By the way you may like a quick tip on how to how to convert Enum into String in Java

  3. Thank you for the feedback. The order of books given in the article does not imply the importance or merit of the book. it only specify the complexity of content it is dealing with.

  4. Introduction to Java Programming
    (8th Edition) Y. Daniel Liang is a great book for beginners and intermediate programmers download link: pages 1371 everyone recommends it

  5. I actually prefer SCJP by Kathy Sierra than their head first book. I think the head first Java is all hype. I prefer the step by step Java Programming video by Patrick Washington to any book. He is the best when it comes to learning Java. I learned Java in a day using his video
    For those who want free videos try thenewboston on youtube. He is a bit boring and talks about unwanted stuff like applets etc.. but hey its free.
    ..Books are so old fashioned way to learn.. try videos..:-)

  6. head first is nice . After that complementing it with thinking in java will be further interesting.

  7. Hi,

    Great article about Spring.

    I think one more book "Spring in Action" can be added to this perfect list.


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