JavaScript Books (2012)
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 06 January 2012
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JavaScript Books (2012)
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I Programmer's book reviewers read over 200 programming titles per year. That's only a fraction of the programming books published, but we try to cover the important ones. In Programmer's Bookshelf we recommend the books you might find helpful at different stages in your personal development.

If you want to read more of the original review click in the link in each title. Clicking on the book jacket in the side panel will take you to Amazon. If you just want to find out more about the book click in the top portion of the thumbnail to open the book's product details page. If you do decide to make a book purchase accessing Amazon from a link on I Programmer means that we are credited with a few cents - so thanks to all of you who support us in this way.


JavaScript is a language that suffers from its very name. It is often misunderstood simply because of the inclusion of "script" in its name. However, with the rise of HTML5, it is becoming increasingly important and if you dismissed it in the past now is the time to get  to know it. If you need more persuasion, see JavaScript inherits the earth and JavaScript - is the new Basic!

In general if you are looking for a book on JavaScript you are spoiled for choice. There are plenty of books on this language and many of the books are good or excellent, Having sifted through over 30 I Programmer reviews, 20 books are rated at least 4 out of 5.


Our first recommendation has to be for JavaScript Programmer's Reference (Wrox, 2009) rated 5 by Mike James who described it as:

"one of the best books on Javascript available [that] should be on your bookshelf. It is a reference work but it is very readable and the author presents as logical an account as is possible with a language as strange as Javascript."

The book covers the basic structure of Javascript and its "interesting" features such as weak typing, closures and dynamic evaluation and is that reference work that you will use repeatedly not only clarify some point of syntax but to understand how it should work.

Another title given a 5-star rating and aimed at those who already know some JavaScript is JavaScript Patterns, which was summed up by Mike James as

my official number one intermediate to advanced Javascript book - highly recommended.

Having told us the book is

short, easy-to-read and you are likely to learn something from every page

the review continues

this book is about is the best way to use Javascript and, because Javascript is such a flexible language, it informs you about lots of bad ways to avoid as well.

Another recommendation up for the intermediate-level JavaScript programmer is  High Performance JavaScript (O'Reilly, 2010) another slim book on how to write efficient Javascript that takes an in depth approach to optimisation and will be appreciated by the reader who wants to know about the inner workings of the language.

2011 saw the publication of the sixth edition of David Flanagan's JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly). Although our review criticised it for being "too big to carry and too big to read"and described the presentation as "very dry", it also concluded that it is pretty close to being a JavaScript Bible and as such it is recommended to the reader who is:

"sophisticated about programming and prepared to put work into decoding the text of the book".


Ian Elliot's top recommendation goes to an older  publication JavaScript:The Good Parts (O'Reilly, 2008) which he found to be "a fresh and insightful account of high-level Javascript". Although this is a short book it is the "distilled wisdom" of JavaScript expert Douglas Crockford and should be considered a classic:

"This is not a book for the Javascript beginner - it's an eye opener for Javascript programmers who think that the language is obvious or not very sophisticated. Javascript is in fact revealed to be a dynamic language with a unique approach to many conventional things such as objects and functions."

For beginners?

So our top five recommendations are for existing JavaScript programmers. What about those who are starting out. In fact I Programmer hasn't yet found a  5-star book for the JavaScript beginner but there are two that merit a rating of 4, i.e. "good".

JavaScript 24-Hour Trainer (Wrox,2010) is a fairly standard introduction to JavaScript with the added feature of having a DVD with video lessons bound into the back. We thought it would be a good choice for those looking for an introduction to JavaScript that focuses mainly on how you use it within a browser, commenting:

Overall the book takes a good modern approach to JavaScript which emphasizes its good points and warns about its bad points. It is reasonably advanced in that it explains how objects work but it doesn't go the whole way and take an object-oriented approach to coding JavaScript.Overall the book takes a good modern approach to JavaScript which emphasizes its good points and warns about its bad points. It is reasonably advanced in that it explains how objects work but it doesn't go the whole way and take an object-oriented approach to coding JavaScript.

If you don't want the DVD lessons, the alternative is Beginning JavaScript, 4th edition (Wrox 2009) which Ian Elliot found to be "solid and comprehensive" or to put it less favourably a little on the "dry" side. His overview stated: 

This is a book best consumed by a reader who wants to learn JavaScript and already has some of the basics of programming sorted out. This said the chapter on "Common Mistakes" would help a beginner get started as these really are the sort of mistakes that hold people up and make them think that they don't understand - when the problem is minor ...

The book suffers from the common problem of trying to tell the beginner too much in an an effort to be complete, but you can always skip the detail.

Ian's other criticism is that the book leaves the choice of frameworks until the final chapter.










Last Updated ( Friday, 06 January 2012 )

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