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Top 5 Books to learn Core Java for Beginners in 2024 - Best of lot

I receive half a dozen emails every day asking about which is the best to learn Java from scratch? Which book should I read in 2024 to learn Java? Or Which is the best Java for beginners? When I receive such an email, before giving my recommendation, I ask two questions, first do you have any programming experience? like, Are you coming from C, C++, or Python background? Or you are a fresher with no experience in programming, just a couple of classes on data structure and algorithm and operating systems in college.

If the guy has some prior experience, I recommend a book like Core Java for the Impatient, which teaches the basics of Java programming language and API and also how to use Java in the right way.

But if he doesn't have any programming experience, I usually ask him to first read Head First Programming before suggesting they read any Java book. Why? Because before learning Java, you must know what is programming.

If you don't know anything about variable, function, loop, if-else block, or switch statements, it's difficult to learn Java. In this article, I'll recommend what I think is the best book to learn Java from scratch in 2024, where Java 21 has gained a lot of paces, and the push for Java 22 has already started.

I will only recommend the book, which I found, both interesting to read, informative, and thorough, also keeping in mind that you know a little bit of programming.

All the books I recommend cover Java 8, except Head First Java, which has not been updated for a long time but is still good enough to teach you the basics of Java given its unique style of teaching. Btw, if you prefer online courses, then The Complete Java Masterclass on Udemy is also an excellent place to start with.

5 Best Core Java Books for Beginners to Learn Coding in 2024

Here is my list of some of the best books to learn core Java from scratch in 2024. These books also cover Java SE 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 the more recent versions of Java.

Of course, it's not possible anymore for a book to cover the latest Java version as a new version is coming out every 3 months, which is a short time to update a paper. Btw, courses have done well to update themselves like The Complete Java Masterclass was recently updated for Java 12.

I have included books that you can read quickly to gain knowledge, like the first book as well as books that can provide you comprehensive learning of Java and its different API, the second book.

1. Head First Java 3rd Edition

This book is the best beginner's Java book of the last decade. It is still a great book but desperately needed the 3rd edition to convert Java SE 8 but now that problem is solved as the 3rd Edition of Head First Java is now available 

The Head First Java 2nd edition only covered up to Java 1.5, which is more than 12 years old now, and Java has changed a lot starting from Java SE 8 but you don't need to worry now as the 3rd Edition of Head First Java covers Java SE 17, the latest version of Java. It also covers all key Java features from Java SE 8 to Java SE 17. 

Then why I highly recommend Head First Java to beginners? Well, because of its unique style and presentation. The Head fist style works best for beginners, and thanks to Java's backward compatibility, there is no significant change in fundamentals.  

If you want to combine this book with a text-based interactive course for better learning then I recommend you check out The Complete Java Crash Course on Educative, one of the popular interactive learning platforms. 

best book to learn Java for Beginners

So, even if you learn Java by reading old version of this book, you will still in good shape. You can later read a book like Java SE 8 for Really Impatient to learn Java 8, but now that the Head First Java 3rd Edition is available, I highly recommend to learn Java from that book to learn core Java better. 

2. Modern Java in Action

This is the revised version of Manning's best-selling "Java 8 in Action" book to cover new features of the latest Java versions like Java 9 and Java 10.

This is not a book to learn from scratch but it is the best book to build on your existing Java skills with the newest features and techniques.  The best use of this book is to combine this with a resource that provides a comprehensive introduction of Java-like The Complete Java Masterclass course on Udemy

best book to learn Java 9 and Java10

3. Core Java Volume 1 and 2

This is another excellent book from Cay S. Horstmann and the second-best book to learn Java for beginners. This is the ideal book for any C or C++ programmer who wants to learn Java.

The author often correlated the C++ concept with Java, like he talks about how the constructor is different in C++ and Java. How Generic and Template are similar but different, and so on.

This comparative analysis takes advantage of a prior knowledge a C or C++ programmer has to explain new concepts in Java. Though this book is not limited to C++ programmers.

Even if you don't know C++, you can benefit from this book. If you want more interactive learning then you can also combine this book with Coursera's Object-Oriented Programming in Java Specialization and Course, which is offered by Duke University.

This is one of the best Coursera certifications for Java developers and more than 71K people have already joined this course. You will not only Java fundamentals but also Data Structure, Problem-solving, and Software development in Java. 

best core java book 2019

Coming to the book, there is also the second part of this Core Java Volume 2 - Advanced Features, which covers the more advanced topic in Java, like JDBC, XML processing, JSON, Annotations, etc.

The current edition, 10th Edition of this book, covers Java SE 8, but 11th Edition is on the way, which will also include Java SE 9 and hopefully Java 10 and 11.

4. Core Java SE 9 For Impatient

This is no doubt the best book to learn Java for beginners in 2024. I am a big fan of Cay S. Horstmann, who has that unique skill of explaining complex concepts in the easiest way possible.

This book covers Java SE 9 and is structured in a charming way to allow a beginner to learn a concept at his own pace.

There are many things I like about this book, like the way it explains concepts, the way it explains tools of concurrency before explaining low-level details like wait, notify, and synchronization, which beginners often struggle to understand.

If you want, you can also combine this book with Pluralsight's Java Fundamentals: The Java Language course, I have suggested this to many of my readers and they said they learned better.

3 Books to learn Java from Scratch in 2019 - Best of Lot Must Read

It's also the most popular book on Java in the market.

In short, if you want to learn Java from scratch in 2024, just buy Core Java SE 9 for Impatient. It's worth every single penny you spend.

5. Learning Java: An Introduction to Real-World Programming with Java

This is another new book to learn core Java and in general programming with Java for beginners. This book is suitable for people who starting with Java with no background in programming and all. It's also good for high school students, and college students who are learning Java as part of their curriculum. 

Created by Marc Loy, Patrick Niemeyer, and Daniel Leuck, the 5th edition of Learning Java: An Introduction to Real-World Programming with Java covers Java SE 11 which is still the most used Java version in production. 

In this book, you will learn:
  • How to write Java program from scratch
  • how to use core Java library like java.lang and java.util package
  • How to use threads in Java
  • How to create and write into file system in Java
  • How to connect to web server in Java 
  • How to create text based application in Java 
  • How to process text using Regular expression in Java and more.
Overall one of the better books to learn Java online in 2024. Though my first choice is still Head First Java 3rd Edition, if you like to learn better, reading books from different authors can really help and in that case you can also read this book to learn and improve your core Java knowledge.  

If you want, you can also combine this book with the Complete Java Development Bootcamp course by Jose Portilla  on Udemy. It's a great course to learn Java online with lots of quizzes, exercises, and bootcamp style teaching. 

best books to learn Core Java for Beginners

That's all about the 5 best books to learn Java from scratch. There are many other titles available, but with my 10+ years of experience, I have found these three books, the best Java resource, especially in 2024. 

Now that Java 17 is on the way, you should also try at least to learn Java SE 8 because it will be the way Java code will be written in the coming decade. You can also explore new features of Java SE 9, like. modules and API enhancements, to keep yourself up-to-date.

Further Learning
Btw, if you are an intermediate Java developer and wants to become an expert Java programmer, you can always refer to my recommendation for advanced Java developers below:

Thanks for reading this article so far. If you like these best Java Programming books for beginners, then please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or feedback, then please drop a note.

P.S. - If you prefer to learn from an online course and looking for some free resources to kickstart your journey, you can also check out this list of 10 free Java Courses for Beginners on Medium. It's an excellent resource for beginners looking to learn Java.


  1. As a beginner, I searched for such lists all over the internet and most seem to repeat the same books.
    I've personally tried reading Head First Java, Thinking in Java (Eckel) and Core Java Vol I-II (Horstmann) and I must admit that only Core Java by Horstmann has struck the right balance of theory and style so far.
    If it helps any other beginners on here, I came across a very good list of best books to learn Java. Hope it helps you too.

  2. A unique book "OOP Concepts Booster" should also be added in the list for deeper understanding.


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