Top 5 Books to Boost Your JavaScript Development

If you haven't heard, you need to know JavaScript...and fast! Here is a list of my favorite JavaScript books that every web developer needs in their library.

October 7th, 2015 • Develop •
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Back in October of 2004, I remember buying the JavaScript Bible.

The sucker was over 1,000 pages long. Woof!

I knew enough about JavaScript to become dangerous, but nowhere near what I needed it for at the time.

So I started reading and learning about JavaScript. I got half-way through the book and I decided to sell it on eBay's Half.com. I thought, it's another language trying to copy Java. It'll never take off.

Then, in February 2005, a guy names Jesse James Garrett wrote a post about AJAX: A New Approach to Web Applications.

From that point on, EVERY WEB DEVELOPER'S LIFE CHANGED THAT DAY! To this day, it blows my mind that one single JavaScript function could turn a technology industry on it's ear and affect how users interacted with web pages. The function was XmlHttpRequest.

Fast forward ten years.

It has been absolutely amazing to watch a simple, scripting language turn into something so enormous and versatile that it's the number one language on GitHub with all of it's libraries and frameworks.

With JavaScript everywhere, it is absolutely the language of the web and you need to know it.

So how can you keep up with everything JavaScript? Focus on blogs, podcasts, and books.

My Top 5 JavaScript Books

A while back, I wrote a post about the Top 10 Books Every .NET Developer Should Own and mentioned that I only read from a select number of publishers: Wesley-Addison Signature Series, APress, and O'Reilly.

That same pattern holds true in my list of top five JavaScript books with the exception of one book.

Learning JavaScript Design Patterns by Addy Osmani (2012)

Even though this book is three years old, it's still a great reference book for learning design patterns in JavaScript. Addy covers 13 design patterns commonly used in JavaScript including the Module pattern, Mixin, and Revealing Module Pattern among others.

He doesn't stop there. He also covers MV* patterns like MVC, MVP, and MVVM patterns.

If you are familiar with jQuery, you are in for a treat. He also included design patterns using jQuery which includes eight design patterns that he covers in the book. Chapter 13 takes patterns even further by describing a jQuery Plug-in Design Pattern.

He walks you through examples of how to use all of the design patterns which is why I strongly recommend this book since it is an O'Relly and Addy knows his JavaScript.

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan (2011)

If you thought the JavaScript Bible was a hefty book, this one definitely takes the crown when it comes to a "thunk factor!"

Weighing in at 1,096 pages, this is one of the books to keep on your desk for ANY JavaScript question you may have. However, it may take you a while to finger through the pages.

Better just buy the eBook instead and perform a search. ;-)

It's a great read for any level of web developer.

Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke (2014)

Eloquent JavaScript is an exception to my book publishers list from above. Marijn did an excellent job with this well-written ebook. Even though it can be wordy in some places, it does contain JavaScript examples sprinkled throughout the book to convey the message based on the chapter.

One of the best parts about the book is the chance to experience NodeJs if you haven't worked with it yet. Marijn has an entire chapter dedicated to NodeJs and provides a complete project of a simple file server.

Since it's free, I definitely recommend it for your library.

Pro JavaScript Design Patterns by Dustin Diaz and Ross Harmes (2008)

While this is still an older book, it has a thorough walkthrough of each design pattern as opposed to O'Reilly including every type of design pattern in one chapter.

Apress explains each design pattern in its own chapter to really drill the point home.

I would recommend reading O'Reilly's Learning JavaScript Design Patterns first, then use this book to dive a little deeper into some of the more technical examples and patterns.

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford (2008)

You honestly didn't think I would leave this book off my list, did you?

Mr. Crockford has taken all of the complexities of JavaScript and boiled it down into a 176-page book on what really matters and describes the nuances, benefits, and issues of JavaScript.

He has basically taken the JavaScript: The Definitive Guide and compiled all of the relevant, important aspects into this book.

This is one book that every web developer should own and I can't recommend it enough to every web developer, whether they are a beginner or advanced developer.

Conclusion

While this list is far from complete, these are the books that I keep within my reach (arms length and hard drive). I have always found the answers in these books instead of going to Google and StackOverflow.

Did I miss any books? Do you have some favorite JavaScript books? Post them below in the comments. I'm curious.

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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