Best book on Python?

Shawn Milo ShawnMilo at
Mon Dec 13 05:33:34 CET 2004

I asked some questions last week about how those in the group
learned Python, and I was given some suggestions. I ended
up buying several books. Here are my brief opinions about them.

In case it seems that I am too positive about these books, please
take into consideration that I purchased each of them after
reading plenty of reviews, and several suggestions from
other list members. This list is the cream of the crop.

In short, I would recommend that anyone keep all four
next to the keyboard. If cost is an issue, I recommend
getting them in the following order. "Dive Into Python"
is available for free from, but it is
listed first because I think it is of the greatest immediate

Dive Into Python
Python in a Nutshell
Python Cookbook
Learning Python


Python Cookbook
   Very useful as a reference. There are examples for a great
   many things. Almost everything I've looked for is in this
   book. The only downside is that the samples are sometimes
   too advanced for me at my beginner level. I assume that
   this book is meant for readers with more that a couple
   of weeks' experience with Python, so I doubt that
   the problem is with the book.

Python in a Nutshell
   The best reference, because of the sheer volume of
   content. The only drawback is that, although all the
   options are there, clear explanations of how to make
   use of them are not provided, due to space considerations.
   This is not a negative comment -- once you have direction,
   you can pick up the rest elsewhere. However, I would
   not suggest using this as the sole reference.

Dive Into Python
   This book is awesome. I started reading this before the
   others arrived. I didn't get too far into it, because I jumped
   directly into a project for work using  Python, so I'm
   limping along, mainly using all three O'Reilly books as
   references. But this book jumps right into useful code, and
   does a good job of explaining it. I should have completed
   this book before moving on.

Learning Python
   This book seems too basic to be used as the sole learning
   tool, unless the person is new to programming, not just
   Python. But the book does contain a lot of valuable information,
   and the depth of the explainations makes it a good companion
   to the others in my little reference set.

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