6 Javascript Books Worth Reading

A couple of days ago, I realized that I own seven JavaScript books, in addition to seven I’ve previously given away. With this in mind, I thought it might be helpful to make a short list of JavaScript books that are worth buying. There are 5 books on my list, and only one of them is targeted at complete beginners.

I will attempt to list the books in the recommended order of reading, which is based on my experience with learning JavaScript. With that said, aside from the first one, you can easily read them out of order.

Simply JavaScript by Kevin Yank and Cameron Adams

Simply JavaScript is a book published by sitepoint, and it easily matches (or possibly exceeds) the high-quality writing present on their site. Seeing the name of Cameron Adams, or the man in blue on the cover should make it immediately clear that this is a top-notch book.

Simply JavaScript covers all the useful basics of the language and gives concrete, usable examples that can be applied to your site. Having owned several other JavaScript books for beginners, I can safely say that this is the best one. It’s clear and concise, allowing you to learn practical JavaScript quickly.

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

At first, I wasn’t sure where to put this book on the list. It is a rather difficult book to get through and it might take weeks to absorb it whole; yet, at the same time, it prevents people with basic JavaScript training from learning the wrong things. The Good Parts goes over the beautiful and usable parts of JavaScript and explains how to use them to create great code. It also covers the ugly parts and explains how to avoid them. Written by Douglas Crockford — who is perhaps the JavaScript expert — this is a must-have book.

While you’re at it, I would also recommend reading his site, which contains a plethora of useful articles — particularly the JavaScript section.

Pro JavaScript Techniques by John Resig

John Resig, the creator of jQuery, is definitely an important figure in the realm of JavaScript development. This book only confirms it. It gives a more in depth look into topics such as Object-Oriented JavaScript, Unobtrusive JavaScript, Ajax, Debugging, and more. One of the things I really appreciated about the book is the way John covers a wide-range of browsers — both in mentioning their bugs and in explaining how to debug JavaScript in them.

While it is called “Pro Techniques”, it is more of an Intermediate level book and could be picked up quite easily by someone who has read Simply JavaScript, mentioned earlier.

Ajax Patterns and Best Practices by Christian Gross

If you’ve read the previously mentioned books or any tutorials on Ajax, you know enough to get started and put together some simple applications or sites. Ajax Patterns and Best Practices will help you take your knowledge to that next level where you can begin working on more complicated sites that might need to eventually scale. It will also ensure that your code stays beautiful and easy to understand.

This is a book that you should only consider buying if you see yourself working with a lot of complicated Ajax functionality. Otherwise, you really won’t need it.


The one book that didn’t quite make the list, even though I’m fond of it, is DOM Scripting by Jeremy Keith. It’s a great book that talks a lot about Unobtrusive JavaScript and manipulating the DOM. The reason it is not included in the list above is because both Simply JavaScript and Pro JavaScript Techniques touch upon the same topics presented in DOM Scripting.

As far as new books go, I’m looking forward to the release of the JavaScript Ninja by John Resig, and I’m planning to buy Object-Oriented JavaScript by Stoyan Stefanov. Both books look like they’re worth checking out.

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