The 7 Best Computer Science Textbooks

Updated May 19, 2017 by Chase Brush

7 Best Computer Science Textbooks
Computer Science: An Overview
Introduction to Algorithms
Barron's AP Computer Science
We spent 26 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With industry-related employment expected to grow at a booming pace over the next couple of decades -- 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, to be more precise -- students looking to enter a promising field or anyone considering a career change would do well to pick up one of these computer science textbooks. Many are geared toward beginners, but some are suitable for advanced levels of study. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best computer science textbook on Amazon.

7. Beginning Programming For Dummies

The Beginning Programming For Dummies is marketed as an "all-in-one desk reference" for anyone looking to enter the world of coding, including compiling, debugging, and algorithms. It's a great resource for the layman, but probably not adequate for serious students.
  • covers various languages
  • ebook and kindle versions offered
  • some material isn't explained well
Publisher Beginning Programming F
Model n/a
Weight pending
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

6. Barron's AP Computer Science

High schoolers prepping for college-level study can't go wrong with Barron's AP Computer Science, which features diagnostic tests and charts detailing the topics for each exam question. For anyone else, though, it might be a little too topic specific.
  • well-priced in paperback
  • practice tests mirror actual ap exam
  • not suitable for complete beginners
Publisher Barron s Educational Se
Model n/a
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

5. Computer Science: An Overview

As its title suggests, Computer Science: An Overview is an introductory text meant to give new students a comprehensive picture of the field as it exists today. It forgoes the specifics to instead present fundamental concepts, such as networking and operating systems.
  • good for students of all backgrounds
  • written by a professor emeritus
  • some material is dated
Publisher Computer Science: An Ov
Model n/a
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

4. Computer Science: A Structured Programming Approach

For students who know they'll be working with C, this Computer Science: A Structured Programming Approach is the perfect way to get familiarized with the language. It offers a syntax-specific introduction to basic ideas first, then to more complex theory later on.
  • supplemented by charts and tables
  • revised chapter sequence
  • can be difficult to follow sometimes
Publisher Cengage Learning
Model n/a
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Introduction to Algorithms

Focusing on one of the most important concepts in the field, the 3rd edition of Introduction to Algorithms is a widely-respected guide for students and instructors alike. It's a bit more advanced than other texts, but is meant to be accessible to almost all readers.
  • covers linear programming
  • concepts described in plain english
  • includes two new chapters
Publisher imusti
Model n/a
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Computer Science Illuminated

If you're brand new to the subject, you likely won't find a better starting point than Computer Science Illuminated, a best-selling text that's meant to bring even the most inexperienced readers up to snuff on the basics. Plus, new copies come with an interactive eBook.
  • also includes instructor resources
  • penned by award-winning authors
  • highly readable and understandable
Publisher Computer Science Illumi
Model n/a
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. The Art of Computer Programming, Volume I

The first installment in a line of books considered by many professionals to be timeless classics in the study of computer science, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume I walks readers through everything they need to know about stacks, queues, lists, arrays, and more.
  • praised by many software developers
  • features clear and humorous writing
  • part of a four-volume collection
Publisher The Art of Computer Pro
Model n/a
Weight 12.6 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

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Last updated on May 19, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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