best book: aint no such thing, and encouragement for old coots

Eddie Corns eddie at
Fri Jan 16 12:48:49 CET 2004

"John Benson" <jsbenson at> writes:

>Hi, I see a lot of posts asking about "the best Python book." In my
>experience, there is no such thing, but there are a lot of good books that
>will help you along in different ways, and at different times.

>First of all, I'd like to clarify my position on learning: I subscribe to
>the adobe hacienda school of autodidactic technology, to wit:

>"If you throw enough adobe at the side of the hacienda, some of it will

>At one time or another, I've dipped into the various O'Reilly Python books,
>Grayson's Python and Tkinter Programming, and Christopher's Python
>Programming Patterns. They're all good, but I need to see the same difficult
>or complex thing presented various times in various contexts to really get
>comfortable with it. Hence the multiple viewpoints of multiple books, and I
>will also read an individual book more than once, interspersed with other
>volumes. Enough adobe ends up adhering to my mental hacienda so that I can
>accomplish things in Python.

>And now, some encouragement for old techies who have considered going into
>management with writing cool software is enough:

>My formal education in data processing stopped with Advanced Data Structures
>back in the eighties, and I coasted along doing journeyman programming in
>various COBOLs, Cs and proprietary languages. Of course, I stayed reasonably
>current with stuff like Dijkstra's Structured Programming, DeMarco's
>Structured Analysis, Date's Relational Database and other flavors of
>business software technology which were my stock in trade, but otherwise I
>avoided the paradigm of the week. Then I ran into Python about two years ago
>and all of a sudden there was OOP, functional programming, aspect-oriented
>programming and other stuff that I had maybe heard about but hadn't actually
>worked with, all staring back at me from the pages of Python books and the
>mailing list. It's been pretty much a process of creative destruction:
>starting all over, but from a higher and clearer conceptual vantage point.
>And, of course, I didn't really forget all the other stuff, I just pushed it
>into the background long enough to get a new appreciation of it from this
>new point of view. In summary, I'd like to recommend getting into Python as
>a rather easy and fun way to talk the talk and walk the walk nowadays; it's
>been a very rewarding and refreshing software engineering update.

The next step is to read "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs"
aka SICP and start all over again, in terms of "clearer conceptual vantage
point" it just can't be beat.  It's even availabe online somewhere.


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