Everyone learns differently but actively working through a good, modern book from a reliable author and publisher remains the best way for most to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the concepts. When combined with practical application of the things learned on projects, challenges, and exercises — perhaps of your own creation — and a mentor or community to help you when you get stuck, books provide the foundation of everything you need to learn independently.

Beginner Books: Everyone Really Needs These

Here are four books every technologist should read and master covering the most empowering modern tech skills and languages. Read and work through them in the suggested order to build a solid coding foundation upon which you can build other technical skills and occupations:

  1. The Linux Command Line, 2nd Edition (5th Internet Edition)
  2. Learning Web Design, 5th Edition
  3. Learning JavaScript, 3rd Edition
  4. Head First Go

Incidently, learning web tech (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, DOM, HTTP) is required to become a cybersecurity professional since the web is second only to phishing scams as a hacker attack vector. This is why WGU requires certification as a “Web Site Developer” for their Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Bachelor’s degree program). It goes without saying that deep web skills are also required to win most bug bounties.

The Linux Command Line
Learning Web Design
Learning JavaScript
Head First Go

“Aren’t tech books bad because they get out of date?”

Absolutely. But the advantages of having a common author, with a common writer’s voice and exceptional knowledge of that material is worth it over the alternatives.

Of these books Head First Go is the most out of date, but covers the core language concepts enough to become productive with it immediately.

“What about videos (Udemy, YouTube, etc.)?”

Videos are a great way to supplement your comprehensive learning from books bolstered with projects and exercises, but videos are rarely anywhere nearly as comprehensive as is required to truly master the topic. Videos are also nearly impossible to search by keyword or index — especially when digital books are taken into consideration.

WARNING: Books to Avoid

Here’s a list books that for one reason or another you should really consider avoiding all together. Some are simply outdated information, others are just dead wrong, and some are written by author’s who lack actual work experience and any rhetorical writing skill.

Learning Bash

Learning Bash from O’Reilly is far too outdated (covering only Bash 3) to be worth buying. Besides you can learn everything in it for free from the listed alternative.

You Don’t Know JavaScript

The click-bait title says everything you need to know about this author. It is not surprising that this book is full of factual and practical errors and definitely not for beginners. When and if you want to waste your free-time exploring the nooks and rotten crannies of a language that has moved far beyond where it was even five years ago then fine, otherwise save yourself the wasted time and skip this horrible book (and author).