Best JavaScript Books for All Skill Levels

Introduction

JavaScript is one of the most widely used programming languages. The power of Single Page Applications gave birth to various JavaScript-based frontend frameworks/libraries like JQuery, Angular, React, etc. With the debut of Node, its popularity has reached new heights.

According to the StackOverFlow developers survey 2019, JavaScript is the most used programming language in 2019. The top 3 most loved web frameworks are React, View.js, and Express.

There are countless resources to learn JavaScript. With the advent of online courses like Udemy, developers are spoiled with choices. In my opinion while online courses are good, they are not standardized and definitely not detailed as some books.

It is always great to read a book from a seasoned author and established publication. In this article, we'll review and handpick some of the best JavaScript books for you.

Best Paid Book

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide

Price: $23-$38

It is the most comprehensive book on JavaScript and considered a bible for JavaScript programmers.

Best Free Book

You Don't Know JS

Price: Free (Paperback $9-$24)

Category: Paid Books

1. JavaScript: The Definitive Guide

Author: David Flanagan
Publication: O’Reilly
Price: $23-$38
Level: Beginner to Advanced

"JavaScript: The Definitive Guide" is a masterpiece and a gold standard for learning JavaScript. It is also considered a bible for JavaScript programmers.

It is written by David Flanagan, who is an MIT graduate, and published by O’Reilly, which is known for publishing quality technical books.

If you are looking for mastery in JavaScript, willing to dive deeper and learn nits and grits of it, you cannot get a better book than this one. It is so extensive that as a beginner sometimes you may feel overwhelmed - as it's probably the most comprehensive book out there. Even as a seasoned JavaScript developer you may want to keep this book as a reference if need be.

As JavaScript is an evolving language you should get the latest edition (6th edition) of this book. Lots of things covered in the previous editions are obsolete now. The downside of this book is, even in the latest edition, you won't find the ES6 specifications.

Having said that it is always advisable to have a strong foundation on core JavaScript concepts rather than directly jumping into ES6. The 7th edition of this book is scheduled to release early next year which will cover all modern JavaScript concepts including the ES6 specifications.

2. You Don't Know JS

Author: Kyle Simpson
Publication: O’Reilly
Price: $9-$24
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

"You Don't Know JS" is not a single book but is a series of books. Each series in this book series dives deep into the core mechanisms of a specific feature of the JavaScript language. Here is the list of all books in the series:

I would recommend "You Don't Know JS" to everyone who is having some prior knowledge of JavaScript. These books may not be for absolute beginners who have zero prior knowledge of any programming language. But it can be easily understood by anyone who at least has some idea of programming in any language like C, C++, Java, C#, Python, etc.

If you know the JavaScript basics, you can use this book series to deepen your understanding of the concepts. Even if you feel you have become the master of JavaScript, you should read these books and you'll get answers to all those why-the-heck-it-is-happening questions you may have asked yourself while fixing a bug.

I have been programming in JavaScript for years, yet Kyle’s books keep me engaged every-time I read them. It takes you on a journey to explore all the little bits of the JavaScript language that you probably have never thought of exploring.

3. Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming

Author: Marijn Haverbeke
Publication: No Starch Press
Price: $22-$28
Level: Beginner to Intermediate

If you are in school and learning JavaScript as your first or second programming language, I would highly recommend this book to you. This book doesn't just tell you how it is done, it explains the concepts with lots of exercises to practice. It provides challenging problems that may rattle your mind for hours. It may sound intimidating but you never learn a language like JavaScript, the easy way.

It begins with variables, control structures, functions, and data structures and then moves into object-oriented programming. It also covers some of the famous math games. It explains modern web technology features like asynchronous programming in detail. This book also focuses on writing readable code.

I like Marijn Haverbeke's friendly tone and easy to follow explanations. And then there are exercises for readers to test their understanding.

My favorite chapters are the one where the Marijn Haverbeke walks through designing and implementing the real world programs using all those techniques described in the earlier chapters.

4. Node.js in Action

Author: Mike Cantelon, Marc Harter, TJ Holowaychuk, Nathan Rajlich
Publication: Manning Publications
Price: $27-$26
Level: Intermediate

If you do not want to confine yourself to the client-side JavaScript and want to explore the true power of JavaScript with Node.js, you should read this book. This book is a great introduction to Node.js app development. It greatly covers topics like Connect/Express middleware, HTTP/HTTPS, Socket.io, databases, etc.

The book starts with Node.js fundamentals and then moves on to data storage with Redis and MongoDB. It gives an in-depth look at Connect and Express web servers. The book finishes with real-world challenges like deployment and uptime.

"Node.js in Action" is full of examples to guide you how to set a Node development environment. It gradually guides you on building a full-fledged Node application.

5. JavaScript & JQuery - Interactive Front-End Web Development

Author: Jon Duckett
Publication: Wiley
Price: $25-$30
Level: Beginner

"JavaScript & JQuery" teaches you to make your website more interactive with the power of JavaScript & JQuery. It assumes no prior knowledge of programming. It helps you learn to write your JavaScript snippets from scratch.

Once you have a solid understanding of JavaScript, it introduces JQuery - helping you implement sliders, content filters, form validation, and Ajax.

It contains clear descriptions of syntax and has plenty of code samples. You'll also find diagrams that help visually explain complex concepts.

6. JavaScript: The Good Parts

Author: Douglas Crockford
Publication: O’Reilly
Price: $10-$12
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

If you develop apps for the Web, this book is an absolute must. JavaScript is notorious for having more than its share of the bad rather than good. After-all it was developed and released in a hurry with the background of Netscape Vs Microsoft battle. This book scrapes away these bad features and reveals a subset of JavaScript that's more reliable, readable, and maintainable.

Douglas Crockford identifies the abundance of good ideas like functions, loose typing, dynamic objects, and an expressive object literal notation that make JavaScript an outstanding object-oriented programming language. Unfortunately, these good ideas are mixed in with bad and downright awful ideas, like a programming model based on global variables.

As you move ahead with good parts of JavaScript, you'll also unlearn all the bad parts.

Category: Free Books

1. Speaking JavaScript: An In-Depth Guide for Programmers

Author: Axel Rauschmayer
Publication: O’Reilly
Price: Free (Paperback $23-$38)
Level: Intermediate

If you want a book written for programmers, by a programmer, "Speaking JavaScript: An In-Depth Guide for Programmers" is for you. I'll also recommend this book to you if you quickly want to learn JavaScript want to look up specific topics.

The book quickly moves to the core of JavaScript and its various concepts. Then it moves to cover details of ECMAScript 5 and its syntax, variables. It also covers object-oriented programming with lots of examples.

2. You Don't Know JS

Author: Kyle Simpson
Publication: O’Reilly
Price: Free Git version (Paperback $9-$24)
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

The free version of this book is posted on GitHub here.

3. Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming

Author: Marijn Haverbeke
Publication: No Starch Press
Price: Free Online (Paperback $22-$28)
Level: Beginner to Intermediate

The free online version of this book can be read here.

Conclusion

You should always remember there is no such the best book for everyone. People have different skill levels and learning style. One should take an informed decision while picking a book.

Also note that the prices listed above are as of the time of this writing and can be changed at any given time.

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A Software Engineer who is passionate about writing programming articles. Founder of CosmoCode.io - Free Coding tutorials