Learning Python

Learning Python, by Mark Lutz and David Ascher, O'Reilly, 366 pages.

If you want to learn the core Python language quickly, this may be your best bet. Learning Python only covers the basics, but it is deep in information on what it does cover. Well written, understandable, and in a very logical arrangement, this book is densely packed with info.

As a newbie, I find myself coming back to this book over and over again. Because it is so deep in information, it is difficult to absorb all in one reading. Because it is so well written, it is a joy to read again to brush up on any topic. For an experienced programmer who is just learning Python, it may be possible to thoroughly learn everything about the core language in one reading of this book.

The chapter on Classes is particularly well done, and is about the best explanation of this subject matter I have found.

The book does not cover the Python libraries at all nor any other "advanced' topics.

If I have one criticism of this book, it is that the authors could have gone just a little bit further in explaining fine technical points to newbies. They use a lot of analogies with how things are done in the C programming language, which is of little use to folks who are relative newbies to programming in general. As I learn and understand more about Python and programming, I come back to certain topics in this book and I appreciate how tersely and correctly the author's described certain points; indeed it is hard to imagine how they could have packed more good, correct information on the core language into so few pages. So, for experienced programmers who are new to Python, this may be the absolute best trade-off: you will find more complete, thorough and densely packaged information about Python here than anywhere else. You will not waste your time reading this book.

For newbies to programming in general, this is not light reading. You will need to study this text, not merely read it. But if you do study it, you will learn Python.

At about $30, this book is a definite "buy".