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Finished Head First Java - Help with picking my next Book to further my learning

Ryan Sykes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 18, 2012
Posts: 58
Hi Folks,

I'd like to apologize for this long post in advance . Let me give you a little background about myself:

I've loved programming since I was a kid playing around with GWBasic and Logo. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I wasn't able to pursue programming as my major in undergrad, but I have a strong background in Algebra and Physics, and have done a fair bit of procedural programming, most recently in MATLAB over the last 4-5 years while I was in grad school. I've also hacked around with PHP and Javascript, but without any deep understanding of either language.

I really miss programming and I've decided to get back into it in my free time. One of my regrets was never having picked up OOP when I was younger (I'm 28 now...so not all that old yet :-) ). So I picked Java as my starting language, and I decided to read the Head First Java book by Bert Bates and Kathy Sierra. I thought it was a great read for gaining an introduction to various concepts and to get my feet wet in the world of Java programming. However, my only complaint about the book was the lack of programming exercises. I'm a firm believer that writing short programs to test out various concepts you learn about, really helps you with your understanding, and to pick out on concepts that you might easily gloss over when reading a book. While I did write some programs on the side, I felt that the book didn't help me as much in developing an OOP mindset that helps me think in an object oriented manner.

So now I want to move ahead and get a more in-depth understanding of Java. I'm a little overwhelmed by all the choices of good books, and I'd appreciate some suggestions from more experienced folk.

I am looking for a book:
- That will help me develop an OOP mindset
- That is more in-depth than some of the beginner books, and it doesn't have to assume little to no prior programming knowledge
- That has good example code snippets and some suggested exercises to help you test your understanding of the subject matter
- That will hopefully teach me best practices, and hopefully give me an idea of how to approach bigger projects

I understand that not all of the above might be possible to get from a single book, but I just wanted some advice, given that you know what my background is and what I am hoping to get out of the next book that I read.

Here are some of the books that I have narrowed down:
- Core Java Vol 1 & 2 (Looks great, except no suggested exercises for any of the chapters)
- Introduction to Java, Comprehensive - 8th Edition by Daniel Liang (Seems to have great reviews on Amazon, lots of topics covered, lots of exercises. Is a textbook unlike some of the other books. Not sure if that is better/worse)
- The Java Programming Language by Ken Arnold (Steers clear of things like Swing, but I've heard good things about it)
- Thinking in Java - 4th Ed. by Bruce Eckel (Is it up to date? I've heard some criticism of the GUI section, not sure if unfounded)

I would really appreciate if someone could advise me on which of these books (or perhaps some other) they feel might be a good next step for me. There are some other great books that I plan to read eventually (I've listed them below), but I will hold off on reading them till I have some more experience under my belt and have tried to code a few bigger projects with whatever I learn from my next book. Thanks a lot for reading this long post and I appreciate all your responses!

Java Concurrency in Practice by Brian Goetz
Effective Java by Joshua Bloch
Design Patterns (Head First or/and GOF)
Java puzzlers... by Joshua Bloch
Mohamed Sanaulla
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Sep 08, 2007
Posts: 3064
    
  33

Ryan Sykes wrote:
Effective Java by Joshua Bloch
Design Patterns (Head First or/and GOF)

Both are good, but I would suggest Effective Java would be more of an extension of your Java learning and will definitely help you.

Ryan Sykes wrote:Java puzzlers... by Joshua Bloch

This is more of a material to learn intricate aspects of Java.

I would also suggest you to have a look at Refactoring (Java version) by Martin Fowler. Also Clean Code is another good book by Robert Martin which teaches the aspects of writing good, understandable code.


Mohamed Sanaulla | My Blog
Ryan Sykes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 18, 2012
Posts: 58
Thanks for your recommendations Mohamed. I will definitely check those books out in the future. However, you did not make any suggestions for my next book now that I am done with Head First Java.

Any recommendation from the following list?

- Core Java Vol 1 & 2 (Looks great, except no suggested exercises for any of the chapters)
- Introduction to Java, Comprehensive - 8th Edition by Daniel Liang (Seems to have great reviews on Amazon, lots of topics covered, lots of exercises. Is a textbook unlike some of the other books. Not sure if that is better/worse)
- The Java Programming Language by Ken Arnold (Steers clear of things like Swing, but I've heard good things about it)
- Thinking in Java - 4th Ed. by Bruce Eckel (Is it up to date? I've heard some criticism of the GUI section, not sure if unfounded)

Thanks!
Raju Kumar Kumar
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 21, 2011
Posts: 1
Read Cathe Sireas and Bear Bates SCJP5 Java certification Book.It is nice book.
Mohamed Sanaulla
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Sep 08, 2007
Posts: 3064
    
  33

Ryan Sykes wrote:Thanks for your recommendations Mohamed. I will definitely check those books out in the future. However, you did not make any suggestions for my next book now that I am done with Head First Java.

Any recommendation from the following list?

- Core Java Vol 1 & 2 (Looks great, except no suggested exercises for any of the chapters)
Thanks!

I have used this book. Though there are no exercise questions, the examples used in the book are good, as in they are written in good OO style. They are not any toy examples.
Apart from that I haven't heard about other books.
And the suggestions I made are for the books you can pick next after Head First Java.

Moreover it depends on how much you have learnt and how much you are familiar with Java. If you are quite familiar, I would suggest Effective Java as the next book. Along with learning a language its good to learn the best practices (which Effective Java book is all about), learn good coding style- both in terms of readability as well as maintainability of the code (which is where Refactoring book by Martin Fowler is useful).

If you want to learn the intricate aspects of Java you can pick Java Puzzlers or even SCJP Guide by Kathy Seirra and Bert Bates does a good job (but the book is more oriented towards certification preparation).
Ryan Sykes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 18, 2012
Posts: 58
Thanks a lot for your reply Mohamed. I had misunderstood your first reply. I'll definitely look into the books you mentioned as my next step. Thanks a lot!
 
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