Top 10 Best JavaScript and jQuery Books that Beginners should Read

June 26, 2013 · 50 comments

by Alexander


There are many ways to learn new topics today, but good old printed books are still great for getting started and finding the peace for true immersion. I find that reading a printed book allows me to get away from the many disturbing elements constantly popping up on computers and tablets. Ebooks and podcasts are gaining a lot of popularity as well and you may find many of the books below in digital form and recorded up to date tips and tricks on JavaScript that will serve you well on the move. I must admit that for reference lookup, e-books are much faster than going through the index in a printed book.
Most of the books I have included below are useful for beginners as they give a good introduction to the JavaScript language and also introduce the new concepts with useful examples. I also added books that focus a lot on jQuery since I find it relevant of quite essential today for a JavaScript developer to see the advantages the jQuery framework may offer. There are tons of useful plugins available to get really cool and advanced solution rolled out with limited coding. As an example, check out this  jQuery slider plugin collection. A few of the books should also be helpful for intermediate programmers to take it to the next level.

A reader recently requested an update of this article, originally published in March 2010. Have to agree that it was about time! I just replaced most of the books and hope it provides more timely advice now. Please let me know in a comment, if a good book was left out.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you). I recommend that you do your own independent research before purchasing any product or service. This article is not a guideline, a recommendation or endorsement of specific products.



Top JavaScript book collection for Novice and intermediate programmers

1. JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual (2011)


by David Sawyer McFarland

This is a good starter book as it is highly driven by examples and hands on. Further it works as a good introduction to jQuery, and there is no way around it… I think learning jQuery is an essential part of any JavaScript skill set. The first three chapters cover JavaScript alone and will get you into the basics. In many of the examples the author go through basic techniques in simple scenarios and then show you how to solve advanced stuff using existing jQuery plugins. Since this is how many developers on a busy schedule work I think it is an OK approach.

2. Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics (2012)


by Jennifer Niederst Robbins

Great book for getting started with JavaScript but also for doing a skills refresh and test. Each chapter have a “Test yourself” section that you may find useful for this. The book also goes beyond covering the language and the how to, which it does well, and tries to teach the why and when. This is particular useful for people that are getting into programming for the first time. It is not a deep dive into all parts of JavaScript, and I think it is OK, since in most cases you will not need it. There is a good balance between avoiding to overwhelm the novice learner and not boring the more advanced and experienced programmer.

3. jQuery Pocket Reference (2011)


by David Flanagan

David Flanagan is a popular and very active author on various programming languages and typically you’ll get a good read. The jQuery Pocket Reference may sound like a simple reference, but in fact it is a good book jQuery beginners to understand the framework and get started with some hands-on examples. For experienced programmers it is also a good chance to really understand the potential and internal workings of jQuery. Problem with jQuery is that it is so easy to use that many skilled programmers start using it and the many great plugins without really diving into the details.

4. Learning jQuery, Third Edition (2011)

by Jonathan Chaffer

This Packt Publishing book starts out with a short introduction to jQuery, what it is and why it works so well. There is an example that demonstrate how a typical task could be done without jQuery, i.e. using plain JavaScript. This illustrates very well how much time and typing jQuery saves us. The book make use of real-life samples and build up pages to show where and how jQuery fits in. It spans well from the very basics to the more advanced techniques and I think it is a good read for both beginners and experienced jQuery do’ers!

5. Professional JavaScript for Web Developers (2012)


by Nicholas C. Zakas

So if you are just beginning to learn JavaScript would you look for a book starting with “Professional” in the title? It depends. New to programming as well, then no! If you are an experienced developer, but new to JavaScript this book may be a great pick for you. It offer the possibility to get a comprehensive knowledge of JavaScript and shares best practices worth learning. However, it is not filtering out the stuff most novice programmers don’t need to know about.

6.  JavaScript: The Good Parts (2008)


This is one of the most popular books on JavaScript and found on may programmers book shelves. It provides a great overview and introduction to the essential parts of JavaScript. but it is not new any more and lacks on the latest developments including jQuery.

by Douglas Crockford

7. JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (2011)


by David Flanagan

This is the 6th edition of one of the most mature and popular books on JavaScript since 1996. The 6th edition covers HTML5 and ECMAScript 5. Many chapters have been completely rewritten to bring them in line with today’s best web development practices. Some of the new chapters in this edition document jQuery and server side JavaScript, but if you are new to JavaScript and want to focus on quick-wins using jQuery this may not be the right book for you. The book is not just a complete reference of the language, it also includes 125 examples that you can view and download making it easy to get hands on some real code. The Definitive Guide is broken up into four parts; Core JavaScript, Client-Side JavaScript, the Core JavaScript Reference, and the Client-Side Reference.

8. JavaScript Patterns (2010)


by Stoyan Stefanov

Experienced programmers knows that patterns carry a lot of value and knowledge and works great for communicating an approach to a common problem. It is not for the novice, but a great book for taking your JavaScript skills to the next level! A few cites from reviews worth noting. “This book is really awesome, from the beginning to the end, the author shows useful tools to improve the JavaScript programming. With more than 30 patterns the author goes from basic concepts, such as avoiding globals, using single var declarations, precaching length in loops, following coding conventions, running JSLint, etc., to advanced ones like variable hoisting, select algorithms at runtime, proxy objects, loading strategies, JavaScript optimization and a lot of more”. “If you’re a beginner, even an ambitious beginner, such as an experienced programmer in another language, you don’t want to start here”.

9. Beginning JavaScript and CSS Development with jQuery (2009)

by Richard York

jQuery – the best solution (this is my personal only) to reduce the amount of JavaScript code you need to write. In this book, the author shows you how to quickly get started utilizing the JavaScript jQuery framework, through code syntax highlighting system. And from its content, you will learn many basic, interesting concepts about jQuery such as: installation, testing code, handle the array, show, hide, slide, and fade elements with smooth animations and transitions, …

10. JavaScript Programmer’s Reference (2009)

JavaScript Programmers Reference
by Alexei White

A good book for getting a full JavaScript programming language reference. This is the combination of tutorial book and a reference guide, so you can learn everything about utilizing the JavaScript programming language such as the core features of JavaScript, including types, objects, operators, syntax, and regular expressions, work with function and object, … Besides, you’re able to master methods to use JavaScript with different platforms like Microsoft’s Silverlight, Ajax, Flex, Flash and AIR.

Hope you like this post and that it will help you improve your JavaScript skills.

Author : Lars Vraa

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

TY March 6, 2013 at 12:25 am

Back in the day I was a major Lingo guy and, after moving up to a CD position (and with the virtual demise of Director) I fell way behind on scripting over the past few years. Now I find myself doing a lot of HTML5 and I need to get my chops together for JS and jQ.

One of the things I liked about the Director documentation was the reference guide, which was a dictionary that listed all terms imaginable plus provided multiple examples for each term. Is there an equivalent book out there for JS / jQ?


Gajus Kuizinas January 7, 2013 at 4:44 am

I have written a review/ comparison of 5 JavaScript books highlighting the weaknesses and strengths of every book. The best book about JavaScript depends on what you are looking to learn (familiarising with syntax/ function reference, exploring different patterns or solving particular issues, such as legacy browser support and DOM manipulation). It should help the reader to pick the best book about JavaScript for his intentions. My list covers The Good Parts (2008), as well as 4 other books.


annesofie January 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Thank you for sharing your work with us!


Punit November 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Hi Lars, have you update the list, as the list is out-dated.


Lars November 25, 2012 at 12:21 am

You are right it is time for an update, thanks for letting me know!


Robert September 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

This list is incredibly out-dated. Publication dates range from 1999 – 2009. A lot has changed since 2009!


Lars September 9, 2012 at 8:44 am

Thanks Robert. We will schedule an update of the post ASAP


suresh July 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I found Modern Javascript Develop and Design to be best book where u can learn from basic to advanced level inculding Ajax and Jquery Basic which is very useful..


Brendan Kiely April 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

An excellent JavaScript book is Modern JavaScript: Develop and Design. Has anyone worked through it?…op-and-design/


Kevin Thompson February 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm

This is a great list.

The only one that I am missing is JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual (


minyatoor October 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm

gonna take a life time to read em’ all !


????? ???? July 24, 2011 at 9:00 am

thanks , but what about sitepoint


Ranbir June 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Nice collection. Thanks for sharing. Going to buy some of them…


Carlos Benítez June 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

Great List!

You can get other great Javascript books in OpenLibra, the free online bookstore:



nawar May 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm

hey, while i am searching for the second book on the list “Beginning JavaScript, 3rd Edition”
I found a new edition : Beginning JavaScript, 4th Edition for the same two writers! so do i have to read the new one or the 3ed edition is better??????


nawar May 18, 2011 at 5:38 am

Hey, I am here again, I am reading JavaScript Step By Step and It’s really useful and good for beginners, I still have the last 3 chapters, but I had a little hard time with the XMLHttpRequest() I don’t know why, what is the best book after this one? is it the second one on the list?


sudhakar March 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

Hey !!! Anybody tried JavaScript from Murach books ? It’s very good indeed.


srinu February 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm

thanks for the list………its really useful


nawar January 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

hey thank you for the list, its really useful. i have a question i already bought the last book
can i learn java by this book or i need another one to start with. i have a not bad knowldeg in c++, so what to do????


Lars January 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I would recommend that you simply start coding Java if you’re already a programmer. It is not that hard and whenever there is something you are not sure of you can look it up in a book or on Google…


nawar January 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm

ok thank you, you know i am thinking about buying ( Beginning JavaScript, 3rd Edition )
I think it will be good for me. thank you .


Cgbaran January 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Nice books i have read JavaScript Step by Step and its really useful


Lars January 12, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Thanks for your input Cgbaran


Elvin December 21, 2010 at 1:45 am

Sorry that i didn’t mention this before. I am teaching myself web development. I had a question though: even though i don’t know much about Javascript, can i just buy and teach myself book nr.10 “Javascript Programmer Refenece” of Alexei White, or should i read something simpler? i just want to make a smart choice.


Elvin December 21, 2010 at 1:42 am

thanks a lot for this great and detailed list of javascript books. I want to begin seriously learning javascript and i needed a guide on what book to pick. thanks a lot.


Gabriel I Preston December 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I have ordered JavaScript by Steve Suehring and it’s a very good book, i am now at the Object Module (Chapter 9), clear and simple with guide codes. This is fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation :)


Jro August 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I’m trying out the first book on this list. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Sachin August 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I have bookmarked this …very useful list


Odis Sliney May 23, 2010 at 3:19 am

hellooo!, thanks 4 the information, this post was really useful ! I just received a copy of a Nice Mastiff Book. Wow! I recommend it for anyone thinking of getting a mastiff !


Master May 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm

thanks for books list
see link below to find JavaScript Professional Tutorials and guidelines


cristian March 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Don’t forget about Professional JavaScript for Web Developers by Nicholas C. Zakas
This is a very good book


Amberly | Web Designer March 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm

nice list. #9 Beginning JavaScript and CSS Development with jQuery, i have the book with me. Very useful book.


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