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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Wladston Ferreira Filho Computer Science Distilled : Learn the Art of Solving Computational Problems
Wladston Ferreira Filho
Computer Science Distilled : Learn the Art of Solving Computational Problems
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Most Accessible
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A non-academic, easy-to-learn computer science guide for programming.


A painless introduction to the core concepts of computer science that are useful for any level. Light and entertaining tone. Gentle and helpful couple chapters dedicated to Math. Helpful illustrations. Easily digestible format.


Not for beginners. Some reviewers didn’t like that the examples were given in pseudocode.

Best Bang for the Buck
Kevin P. Hare Computer Science Principles
Kevin P. Hare
Computer Science Principles
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Most Versatile
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A useful resource for academic study or beginners in computer programming.


Well-liked for its emphasis on creativity in the field of computer science as well as its creative approach to explaining formal principles. Helps reviewers understand complex computer science concepts.


Not for experienced coders. Offers a basic overview of programming.

Dr. William M. Springer II A Programmer's Guide to Computer Science
Dr. William M. Springer II
A Programmer's Guide to Computer Science
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Expert Recommended
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A great pick for those looking to get a professional job in the field.


Gives you a solid base for learning the beginner and advanced techniques. Includes tips for interviews. Gives a more conversational approach to programming.


It isn't a fully comprehensive guide to programming.

Joakim Wassberg Computer Programming for Absolute Beginners
Joakim Wassberg
Computer Programming for Absolute Beginners
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Best for Beginners
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A solid starting point for anyone who wants to learn how to program.


Gives a comprehensive guide to new terms. Helps readers understand the fundamentals of coding. Teaches new programmers how to solve bugs and other solutions to issues they may encounter.


There are some grammar and editing issues in the book.

Paul & Harvey Deitel Intro to Python
Paul & Harvey Deitel
Intro to Python
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Simple Yet Solid
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A great book for those looking to learn how to code Python.


Gives a great introduction to terms and concepts that a coder may encounter in Python. Has a lot of examples and supplementary materials to help with hands-on learning.


Does not provide solutions to all the problems in the book.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best computer science books

The world runs on computers. Everything we do from our jobs to our entertainment is dependent on technology. Even our health is monitored by apps these days — your smartwatch probably knows as much about you as your doctor does. If you want to have an edge, something that makes you stand out no matter what you do, grab a computer science book and start learning.

The best computer science books focus on what you want or need to learn and will advance your understanding from basic to more complex topics without leaving any holes. Additionally, they go deep enough to satisfy your knowledge needs and are written in a way that’s clear and engaging.

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Every time you press a button or touch a screen on a device, remember that someone had to first tell that device exactly what to do when you press that button or touch that screen.

Key considerations

Types of computer science books

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to learn more about computer science. The key to finding the best one for you is placing your focus on the computer science books that cover the type of material you wish to learn.

Level: It’s very important to choose a computer science book that starts where you are in your knowledge. For instance, if you’re an absolute beginner, you don’t want to purchase a book that assumes you already have a thorough knowledge of algorithms.

History: Some computer science books are excellent when it comes to mapping out timelines filled with critical moments in the evolution of technology. They also help you to really get to know some of the iconic individuals who made those technological advances possible. However, when it comes to actual math, science, and problem-solving strategies, these types of books aren't of much use. Be sure the books you’re considering provide the type of information that you seek.

Focus: Many computer science books are broad and superficial, giving you a good summary of what you need to know, enough to carry on a conversation at a party, but they don’t go deep enough into any subject matter to give you an advantage in the work world. If you need to fully understand network architecture, for instance, look for a book that offers more than a few cursory paragraphs on that topic.

Thinking strategies: A great deal of coding work is more about solving problems than understanding the nuances of a particular language. If you’re interested in writing code, consider the broader scope benefits to purchasing one of these types of books.

Languages: Sometimes you do need to know all the quirks of a particular language because that’s all you’ll be using. If you were traveling to France, you'd need to learn French. If you’ll be working with C++, then you need a book that focuses on C++.

Study guides: There are a few computer science books that assume you already have a fairly firm grasp of the subject, so they’re designed to help you pass specific exams. If this is your situation, a test prep book is probably the best option for you.


After you find some books that are in line with what you need, there are a few other elements to consider.


When a book is a hard read, either because of awkwardly constructed sentences or unnecessarily large and confusing words, it prohibits learning. If you choose a book that necessitates reading each page five times before it becomes a little less murky, you'll probably give up before you give yourself a fair chance. Look for a book that is easy to read and comprehend on the first pass.


Paperbacks are the more affordable option, but hardcover books are far more durable (in most cases). Whichever type of book meets your usage needs and your budgetary concerns should be the one you select. Of course, there are digital editions of many, if not all, of these books, too, if you prefer reading on a tablet, phone, or computer.

Additional content

Many computer science books link to additional materials online. Typically, these materials are free, but you can only access them once you purchase the book. In general, the more resources you have at your fingertips, the greater your learning comprehension will be. If you'd like to have the richest, most rewarding learning experience possible, look for books that allow you to explore beyond the pages.

"It doesn't matter which field you work in or how old or young you are, computer science is what drives our modern world, and the greater your knowledge is on that subject, the better chance you have of success in any endeavor."

Computer science book prices


If you’re looking for an inexpensive book, between $7 and $12 will get you a paperback that is either very targeted or somewhat general, with only a cursory look at computer science or the principles of computer science. If either one of these is what you need, you're in luck because you won't need to spend a great deal of money.


From $12 to $25, the books are longer, so they can go into greater detail. Many of these books are also written to better engage an individual who wants to pursue knowledge independently, so they’re more prone to explaining principles at the beginner level.


If you want to gain an in-depth understanding of a broad range of computer science principles, consider books in the $25 to $40 price range. These will likely be a tougher read, and some chapters may go deeper than you require for general knowledge, but unless you’re thinking about majoring in computer science, this price range should be sufficient.


Note that college-level textbooks are also available for the enthusiast who wants to dive deeper, but these are only for the most serious of individuals because they can run you $100 or more.

Computer science jobs

  • Cloud engineer
  • Computer hardware developer
  • Computer research scientist
  • Cyber security consultant
  • Database administrator
  • Database developer
  • Game developer
  • Information systems manager
  • IT project manager
  • Machine learning engineer
  • Mobile app developer
  • Multimedia programmer
  • Network administrator
  • Network architect
  • Software developer
  • Systems analyst
  • Technical writer
  • Telecommunications manager
  • Web developer
  • Wireless engineer
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It doesn't matter what information a computer science book covers. If it isn’t presented in a way that engages the reader and allows them to steadily progress, gaining knowledge and insight, it hasn’t done its job.


Q. What skills or interests do I need if I want to excel in computer science?

A. The obvious one is math. If you aren’t a fan of math, computer science may not be enjoyable for you. Additionally, you must be a great communicator, not only with computer code but with words as well. You must be able to clearly outline and present a set of instructions to a machine and to people, so they understand how to best use what you've created. However, most important of all is the desire to solve puzzles and think creatively, because the largest, most essential component of computer science is being able to solve problems, often in imaginative ways that no one else has considered, which, coincidentally, means you also need to be creative.

Q. How do I know if computer science is right for me?

A. With all the amazing things computers allow us to do from gaming to sharing photos with the world, you have to be careful that you don't mistakenly think you like computer science because you like what you can do with computers. For example, everyone enjoys a good book or movie, but not everyone has the drive, determination, and skills to be a writer or director. Do you prefer using or do you prefer creating? If you can honestly answer that question, then you’ll know if computer science is right for you.

Q. Why would I want to get a book on computer science if that's not my chosen career?

A. Computers are everywhere. The better you understand technology, the greater the advantage you will have in life. Even if your job has nothing to do with creating new technologies, you will still be using technology to get your job done. If you’re clueless and do nothing to change that, expect to be left behind.

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