5 top rated books about JavaScript with text "top 5 for 2020"

5 Best JavaScript Books for 2020

The history of JavaScript is like a daytime soap opera. It can be hard to follow the plot.

JavaScript was created in 1995 by Brendan Eich, a programmer at Netscape. This scripting language was developed as a response to failing Java apps. And it was created in 10 days.

*record scratch* 🛑 ✋


JavaScript was created in 10 days.

And this created some problems. It can be:

  • confusing
  • messy
  • inconsistent

And that’s just for starters.

The reality is that you must learn JavaScript if you want to become a web developer.

JavaScript is the most popular programming language in the world. That’s because it’s used in both frontend and backend development.

Plenty of developers understand the topical functions of the language. They know what they’re doing.

But they don’t understand why they’re doing it.

And with all the references available it’s hard to know where to start.

So, we’ve put together this list of the 5 best JavaScript books.

How do we know they’re the best?

Because we’ve read them.

With the combined powers of these books, you will:

  • identify the awesome parts of JavaScript
  • learn how to navigate confusing areas of the language
  • be more clean and efficient with your code

And so much more.

Here are the 5 best JavaScript books for 2020.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you buy something. Read my disclosure for more details.

1. A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript by Mark Myers

⚠️ Level: Code Newbie ⚠️

A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript is an awesome guide for newbies.

It’s structured to make sure you understand what you’re reading.

And it focuses on learning by doing.

After each chapter, you complete 20 interactive questions online to check your understanding.

With frequent check-ins, you can identify weak spots. And if you stumble, you can quickly see where the mistake was made and try it again.

“This book, coupled with the online exercises is an excellent first step on the journey to learning JavaScript.” – Coalheart

the best javascript book a smarter way to learn javascript student exercise calculating math functions
A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript’s Interactive Exercise Site

There is a strong focus on comprehension and retention. This is also a book where you can move at your own pace.

We recommend A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript to any code newbie.

Bonus: You have access to 89 online practice exercises to test your knowledge.

✴️ Check out A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript here.

2. JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Development by Jon Duckett

⚠️ Level: Beginner ⚠️

JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Development is highly recommended for beginners. At over 600 pages, this book is MASSIVE.

But it is well-organized. And there are visuals and examples on every page.

JavaScript & jQuery is divided into two sections:

Core Concepts:

In this section you will learn the basics of programming and the JavaScript language:

  • How JavaScript changes contents of HTML pages
  • How Document Object Model (DOM) enables access to change contents while loaded into browser
  • How to trigger code
  • How to use Ajax to send and retrieve data from a server asynchronously
  • How to Update Application Programming Interfaces (APIS)

Practical Applications:

This section teaches you about the process of designing and writing scripts from scratch. This includes:

  • Error handling
  • Debugging
  • Creating content panels: sliders, modal windows, tabbed panels, accordions
  • Techniques to filter and sort data
  • Form enhancements
  • Validating form entries

JavaScript & jQuery features demonstrations of JavaScript used by professional developers. And it offers in-depth examples.

“…I’ve read a handful of coding books and by far this is one of the best… the format itself is gorgeous, it’s not heavy on the text like other books and everything is color-coordinated so you can easily follow along…Definitely worth the investment!” – Alvin Nguyen

Because of it’s thorough detail, this is a must for the 5 best JavaScript books this year.

NOTE: This book assumes you already have a basic understanding of HTML & CSS. It does include an HTML & CSS refresher.

Bonus: Multiple code samples accompany the book online.

✴️ Check out JavaScript and jQuery here.

3. You Don’t Know JS: Up & Going by Kyle Simpson

⚠️ Level: Beginner, Advanced Beginner⚠️

Up & Going is great for beginners and those with limited programming experience.

Do not be deceived by the low number of pages in this book. This is dense reading and you will likely need to revisit it multiple times.

You’ll learn the importance of these essential programming building blocks :

  • Types
  • Variables
  • Conditions
  • Loops
  • Functions

And more.

You’ll also become familiar with values, function closures, this, and prototypes.

Up & Going stresses why you should become familiar with all aspects of JavaScript.

And instead of blaming the language, this book blames lack of understanding the language.

That’s why we consider Up & Going to be among the best JavaScript books for 2020.

“The more you are exposed to JavaScript, the clearer it becomes. Words like closures, objects, and methods might seem out of reach to you now, but this book will help those terms come into clarity.” – Jenn Lukas, frontend consultant

Bonus: You Don’t Know JS is a 6-part book series by Kyle Simpson:

Whether you choose to stick with Up & Going or level up with other books in the series, you’re sure to have a better understanding of JavaScript concepts.

✴️ Check out You Don’t Know JS: Up & Going here.

4. Eloquent JavaScript, 3rd Edition: A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke

⚠️ Level: Advanced Beginners ⚠️

Eloquent JavaScript shows you how to write beautiful, effective code.

You will learn control structures, functions and data structures.

It’s packed with coding examples and includes multiple projects.

Eloquent JavaScript teaches you how to understand essential programming elements:

  • Organize/clarify code with object oriented programming (OOP)
  • Script browser and making basic web apps
  • Using DOM to interact with browsers
  • Harnessing node.js to build servers and utilities
  • And more

Because of the quantity of information contained, the book is broken down into 3 digestible parts:

  • Language – bugs and errors to asynchronous programming
  • Browser – handling events to HTTP and forms
  • Node – Node.js to JavaScript and performance

With this setup, Eloquent JavaScript arranges your learning path into small, organized sections. This makes for a great way to easily reference any topic you want to revisit.

And that’s why we’re including this one in the top 5 best JavaScript books.

Each section concludes with projects to test your knowledge.

“Very detailed and thorough, I was getting frustrated with the online course I was taking, the explanations in this book helped me understand what I was doing. Finally finding this resource was like taking a breath of fresh air.” – JRP

Bonus: This 3rd edition contains updated material on class notation, arrow functions, iterators, async functions, template strings, block scope, and more.

✴️ Check out Eloquent JavaScript here.

5. JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

⚠️ Level: Advanced Beginners, Intermediate⚠️

We all know JavaScript can be a real pain. It was a rushed language. And sometimes we get lost in the loose parts.

Luckily, JavaScript: The Good Parts is here.

This book focuses on the well-written parts of JavaScript. And it shows you how to write clean, efficient code. There are extensive chapters on:

  • Grammar – whitespace, strings, functions, etc.
  • Objects – literals, retrieval, global abatement, etc.
  • Functions – invocation, exceptions, recursion, etc.
  • Inheritance – pseudoclassical, prototypal, parts, etc.
  • Arrays – delete, enumeration, dimensions, etc.
  • Regular Expressions – example, construction, elements
  • Methods – examples
  • Style – important of consistency

As stated on the cover: “If you develop sites or applications for the Web, this book is an absolute must.”

Don’t be fooled by this short read. Author Douglas Crockford (creator of JSON), has loaded each chapter with code examples, diagrams, and instructions.

“… JavaScript: The Good Parts is the sort of book that can move you to the next level in your JavaScript development. Thank the gods the age of platonic, useless JS books is behind us.” – Andre M. Behrens

This book made the cut for 5 best JavaScript books of 2020 because it shows you how to find and use the beautiful parts of the language.

BONUS: It even has an appendix of all the bad parts of JavaScript.

✴️️ Check out JavaScript: The Good Parts here.

Best JavaScript Books: A Summary

JavaScript is tough.

But whether you’re a code newbie, beginner, intermediate or beyond, you can always learn more about this fascinating language.

Make your coding journey easier with these 5 best JavaScript books of 2020:

  • A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript by Mark Myers
  • JavaScript and jQuery by Jon Duckett
  • You Don’t Know JS: Up & Going by Kyle Simpson
  • Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke
  • JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

These books also make great gifts!

Looking for more resources? Or maybe you’re a little tight on cash? Check out RealToughCandy’s Big List of 101 Places to Learn to Code for Free.

  1. What are the 5 best JavaScript books in 2020?

    1. A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript by Mark Myers
    2. JavaScript and jQuery by Jon Duckett
    3. You Don’t Know JS: Up & Going by Kyle Simpson
    4. Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke
    5. JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

  2. What is the best book for code newbies to learn JavaScript?

    A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript. Author Mark Myers gears his writing towards beginners. The book offers thorough explanation of the basics and moves at a slow pace. This way you can understand each concept and then build on it.

  3. Do you have to know HTML & CSS before you learn JavaScript?

    No. But it helps. By learning HTML & CSS, you will have a basic understanding of code foundations. These will help you better learn JavaScript concepts. You can then build more dynamic web pages with JavaScript.

  4. How long did it take Brandon Eich to create JavaScript?

    Believe it or not, JavaScript was created in 10 days! In 1995, he wrote it for Netscape Navigator and was originally known as LiveScript. Because it supported Java apps, the name was changed to JavaScript.