Monday, 16 March 2009

A few good books....

I have recently bought some books to help me with Java and programming in general and thought I would write a brief description of each here on the blog, something that I can add to as I acquire new books and hopefully others studying this degree will find them useful.

The first book is Java In a Nutshell 5th Edition published by O'Reilly.

This book is big, don't get me wrong, but already it has proved a loyal desktop reference. It contains the full Java API documentation and the author has descriptive chapters covering all the key parts of Java from the basics through to Threading and Security. I think its one of those books that will stick with me well beyond my degree and came highly recommended by my tutor and half of the Internet according to google.

The second book is Head First: Design Patterns also published by O'Reilly.

Don't judge a book by its cover! This book is incredible and I am only a few chapters in. It takes everything I've learnt about Object Oriented Programming and shows me how best to apply it in differing circumstances. The great thing about this book is the way it is written. It uses lots of pictures and activities to reinforce you learning and I personally think the OU could take a leaf out of the authors book (no pun intended) and apply it to some of there course materials.

Head First is a whole series created by leading technical authors aimed at flipping technical texts on there head. I really feel like the learning is sticking without too much effort and I am sure I will read this cover to cover. Once I'm finished I think I will pick up the Head First: SQL book as looking at the sample on Amazon it looks as good as design patterns (and I can hopefully skip the dreaded M359!! or at least make it less painful!)

Take a look at the preview of any of the Head First books and I'm sure you will agree that they are good, if you don't want to buy them try and get them from your local library as they are not worth missing out on.


Simon Knights said...

Hi Simon, Great idea to do book reviews. I have the Java in a Nutshell" which I brought in the late 1990's (I think it was only the 1st edition then - and a sickly brown colour too) but things have changed a great deal since then!

The Head First books are quite striking - and I'm not sure whether I will adapt to the wacky style (although I'm willing to give it a go!). I've had the H-F Design Patterns in my Amazon 'save for later' list for a while now. I'm also toying with the idea of looking at the H-F C# book although the 1st edition of that came in for some criticism due to the number of errors. I hear the 2nd Edition is vastly improved.

Anyway, C# is where I'm heading these days (apart for some lousy PHP code that I have been given to comment on at work).

My OU studies are still on hold although I might squeeze in a 10 pointer later in the year.


Simon said...


Great to hear from you. I agree the HF series seems a bit wacky but its genuinely worth a look and i'm sure you won't regret it.

Its very interesting to see your heading in the C# direction, coming from a vb background I can say that the .Net framework is great and very easy to work with, and dare I say it Visual Studio is the best IDE i've used (all the MS bashers will ber after me now!). I'm sure with your Java experience you will pick it up in no time.

The Syntax was always the barrier for me but after getting to grips with Java I don't think it will be a problem to crossover whatsoever. Lets face it you rarely find someone who programs in only one language these days. Let me know how you get on with it though.

P.S take a look at the videos on, there are some freebies you can watch that will start you off well.

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