Learning to Code with a Book

By now, most students should be familiar with the essential components of computer programming, so it’s been helpful to have books to help accelerate the learning process.

You should ask your teachers or peers for suggestions. If you like, you can read a lot of them, from books like Code Fever to Computer Programing for Beginners to complete tomes by greats like Ed Catmull and Aldous Huxley.

Still, no book covers as many facets of the subject as Julian Falconer’s The Story of Computer Programming is the canonical, authoritative, and totally indispensible book on the subject.

For those of you who came up learning to code with a book, this one will feel like finding a lost thread – particularly for those of you who were exposed to Pascal Code as a kid.

Julian Falconer’s framework is by no means easy to use – and unfortunately I had to read it in the digital age to make it comprehensible to the modern web user.

Falconer is not a purist; in my opinion, he feels like an entryway to a daunting subject.

Yet, at the same time, he provides you with some powerful tools, both the quantitative and qualitative, to bring insights from the traditional (Al Gore) and theoretical (Alexis Toth) schools of thought into effective presentation.

It’s possible to break down the arc of the three-course curriculum, educating you from the basics of cryptography to programming language and from how to build a website to how to make a “widget” as well as how to make your own software, and from all of it being good starting material for an entryway into a career in programming.

There are principles you can apply to whatever piece of software you’re writing and eventually work your way up to a post-graduate degree in any of the disciplines. I’m using myself as an example, because the book is really on a similar level as Coursera and Udacity.

This guide is not intended to prepare you for a course or formal course, but it is a valuable companion for undergraduates who are trying to navigate the learning curve, and for more advanced students who want to get a grasp of topics like programming scripting, statistics, and debugging.

While I had an immense amount of material to wade through, the amount of material he covers in such a short time is stunning.

For me, this book became the start of a great learning journey in my personal career path. It’s not a perfect book – it’s academically driven and exhaustive, even by academic standards. In an environment like college, though, its broad-based, inspirational reach is like grace from above. It emboldens you to seek out a variety of sources for additional inspiration.

I recommend you pick up this book, not just because it’s a great starting point for a lifelong passion for programming.

It’s also a fantastic introduction to an eclectic catalog of popular culture-based knowledge that adds a fascinating layer to understand how the web functions.

Because we live in the culture, we learned to connect. It’s an interface, and its the shaping of that interface that Julian Falconer is so important to.

For those of you who like it, and especially for those of you who like it well, I highly recommend the second volume of the course series by Julian Falconer: Making a Website.

For those of you who miss reading this book for the new classes and online courses that are appropriate for you, you’ll find it an irreplaceable resource.

As I said, this is not necessarily the most technical of books, but if you have minimal knowledge, it’s a great introduction to the basics.

For those of you who have deep knowledge, look at your course guide to see what you may have missed.

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