14 best python books for beginners [learn python programming] with faded black background

14 Best Python Books for Beginners [Learn Python Programming]

The best Python books for beginners can be tricky to find, especially if you have no programming experience.

And with Python being used in diverse fields like web development, data science and machine learning, it’s a programming language you don’t want to miss out on.

So we dug into our stash of books (and a few courses) to bring you the best Python resources for beginners.

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

TLDR: Best Python Books for Beginners

We picked the absolute best Python books for beginners based on the following criteria:

🔥 Best Overall 🔥
Python Crash Course

💥 Best for Newbies 💥
Head First Python: A Brain-Friendly Guide

💸 Best Value 💸
Python Programming: A Beginner’s Guide to Learn Python in 7 Days

Best Python Books for Beginners

1. Intro to Python for Computer Science and Data Science

Intro to Python for Computer Science and Data Science by Paul and Harvey Deitel is much different than any other of our best Python books for beginners.

As the name suggests, you’ll learn Python in relation to both computer science and data science.

So if you don’t have an interest in data science, this may not be the book for you.

However, if you are following a path towards data science, we highly recommend Intro to Python. It’s packed with real-world datasets and artificial intelligence technologies, and this curriculum can’t be beat.

There are hundreds of examples. In addition, you’ll work on tons of exercises and projects throughout the book. So there’s no sitting back and relaxing here.

Rather, you’ll frequently work on interactive, engaging content.

Again, Intro to Python is a stellar book to learn Python. But it will also delve into the fundamentals of data science.

💡Want to learn more about Python as it relates to data science? Check out the course Introduction to Data Science in Python by DataCamp.


2. Learning Python

This 5th Edition of Learning Python by Mark Lutz includes Python versions 2.7 and 3.3.

It’s broken down into 9 comprehensive parts covering:

  • types and operations
  • statements and syntax
  • functions and generators
  • modules and packages
  • exceptions and tools

And beyond.

First you’ll learn about some of Python’s built-in types such as lists and dictionaries. Then you’ll become familiar with Python’s syntax model while creating objects with Python statements.

In addition, you’ll learn how to avoid code redundancy by using functions. You’ll also write larger programs using exception handling.

Finally, you’ll learn about some advanced Python tools like decorators, metaclasses and descriptors.

Learning Python is filled to the brim with illustrations, hands-on exercises and quizzes.

… If you really want to know everything about Python, this book is for you.

Daniel slonov, Customer


3. Head First Python: A Brain-Friendly Guide

Head First Python by Paul Barry is one of the best Python books for beginners.

Instead of walls of text, it uses tons of illustrations and examples to make the material more relatable.

Also there are plenty of notes throughout the book to explain more difficult parts of concepts.

You’ll learn about:

  • list data
  • structured data
  • code reuse
  • storing and manipulating data
  • advanced iteration

And much more.

So first you’ll learn about Python fundamentals. Then you’ll learn how to build your own web app.

After that, you’ll learn about exploring database management, exception handling and data wrangling.

If you’re looking for a book to make Python stick, we think Head First Python is the way to go.

Running template code lesson in Head First Python

🔥 Geena’s Hot Take

Whenever you’re learning a programming language and there’s a Head First book about it, GET IT.

The way they teach concepts really just sticks to your brain like hot sauce to wings.

So if you need things spelled out like I do, Head First Python is the way to go.

It’s an excellent investment either as your primary learning source or as a companion to other books or courses.


4. The Quick Python Book

The Quick Python Book is written for Python beginners with some other previous programming experience.

While it does cover programming features that expand beyond Python, The Quick Python Book by Naomi Ceder exerts most of its energy teaching Python 3. So aside from basic syntax, you’ll also learn about Python libraries, packages and tools.

In addition, there are 5 chapters on Python as it’s applied to data science.

Throughout the book, you’ll work on exercises to reinforce concepts. Also, there are plenty of examples to clarify any questions you may have.

💡Looking for a course to take you from Python beginner to experienced developer? Sign up for Complete Python Developer in 2021 on Zero to Mastery.


5. Python: -The Bible-

Python: -The Bible- by Maurice Thompson is a compilation of three manuscripts which contains Python programming for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners. But today we’re just focusing on the beginner-level portion.

The intention is that you can learn the basics of Python in 7 days. It’s broken down into easily digestible parts.

First you’ll learn about Python and its history. Then you’ll learn how Python works. After that, you’ll get into the meat of the book:

  • installing Python
  • writing your first Python program
  • variables, strings, lists, tuples
  • user-defined functions in Python

And much more.

Finally, you’ll work on a series of practice projects.

Python: -The Bible- is one of the best Python books for beginners who are interested in taking their skills to the next level.


6. Learn Python 3 the Hard Way

Author Zed Shaw refers to Learn Python 3 the Hard Way by Zed Shaw as a course, not a book. That’s because, in addition to the book, there’s over 5 hours of video to accompany your learning.

With 52 exercises, you’ll work through the problems step-by-step from the very first lines of code. By watching the programs run, you’ll come to understand how computers work.

Then you’ll learn how to break, fix and debug your code. All this is done while following alongside the video portions of the course.

You’ll learn everything from installing your Python environment to organizing and writing code.

Then you’ll work on more challenging concepts like looping and logic, data structures and object-oriented programming.

Because of the course-like structure, we think Learn Python 3 is a must-have for students who thrive in a more academic setting.


7. Automate the Boring Stuff with Python

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python by Al Sweigart is geared towards those with no prior programming experience.

You’ll learn how to use Python to automate things that would otherwise be done by hand. And therefore, take hours to complete:

  • renaming files
  • updating spreadsheet cells
  • scraping data from websites
  • automating Google Sheets
  • updating CSV files

And beyond.

With step-by-step instructions, you’ll get complete walkthroughs for different programs. Then you’ll work on practice projects at the end of each chapter.

And with your new skills, you’ll be able to automate similar tasks.

💡Looking for a beginner course on Python 3? Sign up for Learn Python 3 on Codecademy Pro.


8. The Python Workshop

The Python Workshop by Andrew Bird, et al. is intended for teaching Python to absolute beginners interested either in computer science or data science.

You’ll start by learning how to write simple programs with Python syntax. Then you’ll learn how to store and retrieve data, handle files, and write reusable and efficient code.

As you progress, you’ll learn how to use the Python standard library and write unit tests. Then you’ll learn about other Python libraries like pandas and NumPy.

After that, you’ll learn how to tackle machine learning algorithms, leaving you ready to write your own programs with Python.

The Python Workshop will also show you how to use Python scripts to automate day-to-day tasks.

Great book, very detailed exercises, and all around really useful. Highly recommended if you are thinking of dipping your toes into Python!

The Bruces, Customer


9. Introducing Python: Modern Computing in Simple Packages

Introducing Python: Modern Computing in Simple Packages by Bill Lubanovic is geared towards readers with absolutely no programming experience.

You’ll learn about Python fundamentals like:

  • data types and variables
  • dictionaries and sets
  • functions
  • objects and classes
  • modules and packages

And beyond.

Then you’ll move onto more complex concepts such as wrangling data and persistent storage.

You’ll also learn best practices for debugging, testing, and reusing code.

There are exercises at the end of each chapter so you can put to practice what you’ve learned.

Lesson on ASCII in Introducing Python

10. Python for Beginners

Python for Beginners by Programming Languages Academy is a two-part book. The first part teaches Python programming to beginners, and the second part is a Python workbook.

It’s geared towards readers with no prior programming experience. Also, like some other books on our list, you’ll learn about some data science fundamentals.

This beginner’s guide will start by giving you a crash course in setting up Python. Then you’ll learn about Python tools and libraries.

Then you’ll learn about methods to help you streamline your Python code.

After that, you’ll move onto the Python workbook. Here you’ll work on real-world programming exercises and apply various programming concepts.

Plus you’ll work on stimulating projects and practice debugging.


11. Python Crash Course

Python Crash Course by Eric Matthes is the best selling Python book in the world. So many could argue that this is one of the best Python books for beginners.

This project-based introduction to programming is ideal for readers with zero programming experience. However, keep in mind that this is a fast-paced book.

It’s separated into two parts.

In the first half of the book, you’ll work on programming concepts like:

  • variables
  • lists
  • classes
  • loops

And beyond.

Then you’ll work on a series of exercises to help you practice writing clean code. In addition, you’ll learn how to make your programs interactive.

After that, you’ll move onto the second half of the book. Here is where you’ll work on three major projects:

  • Space Invaders-style arcade game
  • data visualizations with Python libraries
  • a web app you’ll deploy online

If you want to learn how to write Python programs quickly, we think Python Crash Course is the way to go.

💡Do you learn best with interactive lessons? Sign up for the course Learn Python 3 from Scratch on Educative.io.


12. Learn Python Quickly

Learn Python Quickly by CodeQuickly is another accelerated Python book for beginners with no prior programming experience.

Whereas you’ll mostly learn about Python fundamentals, you’ll also learn about some more advanced concepts. So by the end of this book, you’ll have an intermediate understanding of Python programming.

With simple code explanations, you’ll work step-by-step on exercises that contain detailed solutions.

Some topics covered include:

  • using Python in the command line and in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • handling inputs and outputs
  • error handling
  • Python data structures
  • object-oriented programming
  • recursion

And much more.

Then you’ll work on 2 major projects to combine all the concepts you’ve learned throughout the book.

You’ll also get some source code files that you can run on your computer and use as a reference.


13. Python Pocket Reference

Python Pocket Reference by Mark Lutz is one of the best Python books for beginners who are on the go… But who need that quick reference guide when on the job or just building your skills.

Some of what’s included are:

  • types and statements
  • special method names
  • built-in functions
  • standard library modules

And more.

You’ll also discover the Python Database API.

This fifth edition covers Python 3.4 and Python 2.7.

Python Pocket Reference is not for first-time Python programmers. Rather, it’s an additional reference once you’ve read some other beginner Python books.

Nested scopes and closures in Python Pocket Reference

14. Python Programming: A Beginner’s Guide to Learn Python in 7 Days

Python Programming by Ramsey Hamilton advertises that it will be able to teach you Python in 7 days. However, it can be considered an aggressive pace for the amount of information you’ll be learning.

So it’s all up to you and what pace works best for you.

First you’ll learn how to set up your dev environment.

Then you’ll learn about Python fundamentals like:

  • variables
  • loops
  • functions
  • tuples
  • classes
  • modules
  • error handling

And much more.

With Python Programming, you’ll learn beginner Python concepts so you can comfortably advance to the next level.

Kudos to the author for offering clear, concise and practical code snippets to illustrate both syntax and logic of the Python programming language.

Wyatt Earp, Customer


Best Python Books for Beginners: Conclusion

Today we looked at some of the best Python books for beginners. And we came up with 3 that were a cut above the rest.

Best Overall
Python Crash Course

Best for Newbies
Head First Python: A Brain-Friendly Guide

Best Value
Python Programming: A Beginner’s Guide to Learn Python in 7 Days

So no matter what you’re looking for, we think there’s a Python beginner book for everyone.


Up Next:

  1. Is the Python Crash Course book worth it?

    We think Python Crash Course is worth it. This project-based introduction to programming is ideal for readers with zero programming experience. However, keep in mind that this is a fast-paced book. The book is separated into two parts. In the first half of the book, you'll work on programming concepts like variables, lists, classes, loops, and beyond. Then you'll work on a series of exercises to help you practice writing clean code. In addition, you'll learn how to make your programs interactive. After that, you'll move onto the second half of the book. Here is where you'll work on three major projects. If you want to learn how to write Python programs quickly, we think Python Crash Course is the way to go.

  2. What are the best Python books for beginners?

    We picked the best Python books for beginners based on three criteria. For best overall, we think Python Crash Course takes the win. For absolute beginners, we think Head First Python: A Brain-Friendly Guide is the way to go. And with think Python Programming: A Beginner's Guide to Learn Python in 7 Days has the best value.

  3. Is the Python Pocket Reference book worth it?

    We think Python Pocket Reference is one of the best Python books for beginners who are on the go… But who need that quick reference guide when programming in Python on the job or while building your skills. Some of what's included are types and statements, special method names, built-in functions, standard library modules, and more. Also, you'll find the Python SQL Database API. This fifth edition covers Python 3.4 and Python 2.7. Python Pocket Reference is not for first-time Python programmers. Rather, it's an additional reference once you've read some other beginner Python books.