Are you looking for a new career in coding? We can help! We asked our Director of Education, Kris Younger, for a short list of books that may help people who are thinking about making the transition into technology. He came up with these 5 gems that you should add to your list pronto!

NONE of the top 5 books (listed alphabetically) are thick tomes of math and logic; they are all short, concise books meant to explain the way we think when we program, how we design software, and how software impacts almost everything we do, make, buy, sell and dream these days. Find them on AmazonSmile today!

  1. Computer Science Distilled Learn: Learn the Art of Solving Computational Problems by Ferreira Filho

According to Kris, if there is one book that tries to boil computer science down into a short, concise, well-written book, it is this one. Many of the fundamental topics of computer science are explained in short, clearly written chapters. From data structures to databases, algorithms to hardware and all the trappings of the modern solving of problems with code, this book is one of his favorites. If it’s in here, you need to know it. 

  1. Grokking Algorithms: An Illustrated Guide for Programmers and Other Curious People by Aditya Y. Bhargava

From the news, you’d think algorithms are some beyond esoteric concept meant to be confusing and complex, and made even more complicated because the people that write them want you to be perplexed. Not this book. It’s an illustrated manual of how things work, and how to visualize them.

This book explains hard technical topics well, and describes algorithms clearly. It’s the kind of book that more often than not, you think, “huh! now I get it!”

  1. Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming by Eric Matthes

Python is a great language to know. From kids to AI researchers, from web app developers to “Internet of Things” engineers, Python is the one true way. An easy language to learn, yet very deep and broad to be applied to many problems, it is one of the world’s most popular programming languages.

Kris’ assessment is that this book describes Python clearly, cleanly and with great humor. You learn to write Python and to express solutions to problems with it and before you know it, you’re a Python coder. For ages 8 and up. (Well, maybe I just made that part up!)

  1. “You are NOT expected to understand this”: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World by Torie Bosch

Taking its name from the most famous (or infamous) comment in the UNIX operating system’s source code, this is a slim book of anecdotes. These short essays about key events in the history of computers are told in a way that makes the human element shine through.

Code is created by humans, and these pithy little stories are told from the perspective of the insiders. People who knew what was going on and try to explain it in an entertaining way. From Kris: “I rather wish these were each made into 30 minute television episodes, they would be wildly interesting.”

  1. Programming in Lua by Roberto Ierusalimschy 

This book is more than just an introduction to the Lua language, it is also a great book to use to learn to think in a language. Lua is a surprisingly small, well-thought-out language; one that is commonly embedded into computer games and used to extend them.

Kris says Lua is a clever little language, one that has many interesting features which tend to make your understanding of what is possible with computer languages larger. Reading this book shows lots of the basics, but also describes many of Lua’s advanced and powerful features. Many of those features you might spend years getting to when studying C++ or Java, whereas in Lua, you use them in the introductory exercises.

Try to get the 4th edition of this book; it covers Lua 5.3.


Well, there you have it! You can find and purchase them all on AmazonSmile and support Zip Code Wilmington in the process using the link! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support us every time you shop, at no cost to you, and Zip Code Wilmington is a non-profit organization that trains adults in software development skills and then assists them in finding employment in the tech field. Your support can help us achieve our mission as you prepare yourself for a new career!


Any, or all, of these books will help you to see what a life in software career is all about. If these things interest you, come see us at Zip Code Wilmington. We might have some more ideas you may find very interesting.