Are you looking for a beginner-friendly but solid book to start learning programming and Python?
I know how difficult it is to start learning to code with no background in tech. One of the biggest questions is:
“Which programming language should you learn?”
With dozens of languages to choose from, making up your mind can sometimes feel overwhelming.
So let’s assume you’ve decided to learn Python. Awesome!
Your next challenge is to find the right resources for learning. You will find online courses, video tutorials, bootcamps, study groups, and more.
I started learning to code back in 2016, and chose Python as my first language.
I tried a few online resources, but they didn’t feel right. Coding felt so abstract, that I wanted to have something more tangible to hold in my hands for learning it.
Luckily, I discovered the Python Crash Course book in my local bookstore. It helped me make progress much faster than I expected, with no experience with computer programming at all.
Withing a few days, I learned how to use Python for fun coding projects, and started writing my first simple programs and scripts from scratch.
This book was the perfect way for me to start learning how to code – simple as that.
Thus, if you are struggling to find suitable Python resources to get started, you are in the right place.
In this article, I’ll share my thoughts about Python Crash Course and help you figure out whether it could help you, too.
Let’s jump right in!
Here are a couple of related articles you may find helpful:
- 5 Reasons Why Python Is a Great First Programming Language
- 120+ Free Places to Learn How to Code For Beginners
- How to Start Learning Coding? 6 Tips for Beginners
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What is Python Crash Course?
Python Crash Course is a beginner-level Python book written by Eric Matthes. It was originally published in August 2015, and the 2nd edition came out in 2019.
The book is a “hands-on, project-based introduction to programming”, and it’s perfect for beginners.
If you are new to coding, and want to learn all the basics from a single resource, keep reading.
What makes Python Crash Course different from many other Python and coding books is that it’s a very learn-by-doing oriented guide.
You can go through the theory chapters at your own pace, and practice your skills through writing real code in your text editor.
With the second half of the book, you get access to three hands-on Python projects step-by-step.
Python Crash Course Review: Quick Pros and Cons (TL:DR)
Here are the pros and cons of learning with Python Crash Course:
Pros of Python Crash Course
- Perfect for complete beginners
- Teaches you best practices for programming – helpful for working with any other language, too
- Very hands-on material – you start writing code right away in the first chapter and learn by doing instead of watching video tutorials
- Detailed and in-depth explanations – you will learn everything about the code you write
- Low barrier to entry – the book walks you through how to install Python on your computer and set up your coding environment
- Relatively inexpensive when compared to paid online learning platforms with monthly subscriptions
Cons of Python Crash Course
- Books can be bulky – only available offline
- Content may become outdated in the future
- Doesn’t offer a community like most online learning resources
Why I chose Python Crash Course
In early September 2016, I became interested in teaching myself how to code.
It took me a while to figure out which programming language to learn. I tried a couple online tutorials for Ruby, PHP, and Python to get a quick first impression of them all.
Python felt the most logical to me, and I wanted to dive deeper to learn it well.
If you are new to programming and not sure which language to learn, check out these advantages of Python. It’s a fantastic language for beginners, and in high demand in the job market.
Unfortunately, browsing through online courses and video tutorials seemed to take me nowhere.
My learning lacked structure and consistency. It was too easy to jump back and forth between courses and tutorials online.
So I wanted to find the perfect beginner-level Python book to learn with.
When you are new to coding, it’s helpful to have a quick reference in your hands for syntax lookups and troubleshooting.
I first came across Python Crash Course at a local bookstore. I liked the layout, the structure, and how the author focuses on explaining everything very thoroughly.
You can get your copy directly on Amazon.
Moreover, the publisher (No Starch Press) deserves a remark on their other Python books, too.
Compared to other books, they all were more reader-friendly and practical.
The other Python books did have some very interesting, comprehensive content as well. However, the authors often seemed to forget about beginner readers after the first couple of chapters.
Python Crash Course Review: Book Contents
So what’s inside?
What initially caught my eye about Python Crash Course was how the content was structured:
- The first part of the book is about the basics of Python.
- The second part consists of three different practical projects.
Out of all the books I looked at, this one had the strongest combination of theory and practice.
Because when you start learning how to code, you want to start working on your first projects as quickly as possible. Applying your skills to real projects helps you understand how the language works in practice.
Let’s take a closer look at the two parts of the book:
Part 1: Python Syntax and Basics
The first part of the book covers the functionalities, syntax, and fundamental building blocks of Python.
You learn about:
Additionally, you will learn how to write clean and readable code throughout the book.
Each chapter includes a handful of helpful exercises, too. You start with easy challenges in the beginning of each chapter. As you proceed to more complex topics, the exercises advance and build on what you started with, following a nice learning curve.
The code and the exercises are explained in the smallest detail throughout the book. I was a total newbie, so I found this very helpful.
If you are completely new to coding and Python, this books covers these basics in enough depth.
However, if you are already familiar with this language, some of the exercises may feel too simple and basic.
Part 2: Practical Python Projects
The second part of Python Crash Course includes three hands-on projects:
- 2D game, Alien Invasion:
You build your own video game with the Pygame library, much like Space Invaders. This is a fun way to learn how to use Python to create fun games you can play and share with others, too. Good fun and great practice combined!
- Data analysis and visualization:
The second project teaches you how to analyse data and draw conclusions based on your findings. You will learn how to use popular Python libraries and modules, such as matplotlib and Pygal.
- Web application with Django:
The final project is a simple journal wep application. You will learn how to use the Django web framework, and deploy your web app so that everyone can use it. If you are interested in back-end web development, this project is a fantastic starting point. As your skills improve, you can add new features and functionalities.
Related: What Is a Web Application?
The projects are great for seeing a few examples of what you can create with Python with just this one single book.
I looked at all of these projects on day 1. Although I didn’t understand much about them at that point, it felt good to know what I could build once I finished the first half of the book.
I would sometimes take a look at the projects and see how much I already understood.
Hence, I had a clear goal to strive for, and it was easy to track my progress.
The projects are definitely the biggest advantage of this book. For me, knowing that I could go through the chapters and have a full-scale web application to add to my portfolio felt incredibly motivating.
Why Python Crash Course is perfect for beginners
You don’t need any programming experience to start learning with Python Crash Course.
The book introduces you to the Python programming language and to object-oriented programming in general.
Each coding concept is explained on a very detailed level. Perfect for complete beginners.
All in all, it’s very easy to learn the basics of programming and Python with this book. But then again, that could also be simply because Python is an easy language to learn.
If you are not familiar, Python is a high-level programming language, and the syntax is easy to understand and read. In fact, Python reads a lot like English!
Also, Python Crash Course helps you build your first projects for your developer portfolio. Thus, you will practice your problem-solving skills as you learn how to think like a programmer.
The three projects in the second half of the book are a good introduction to real-world coding projects you may build in the future. They also point out how versatile Python is – you can use it for data analysis, game development, web development, and more.
If you want to build more stuff with Python, check out these Python coding project ideas, too.
How long did it take me?
Learning the syntax and the basics with the first part of the book took me around three weeks. The first project that I finished, the web application, only took me three days.
Of course, I didn’t understand everything I was doing at this point. It took longer to get a hang of how the Django framework works under the hood.
Having thought it’s really difficult to start learning to code, I couldn’t believe how quickly I was writing small programs of my own.
However, I did have a full-time job back then, so I couldn’t spend as much time with the book as I had wanted to.
I went from basically knowing nada about Python and with zero programming experience to having a fully functional web app in just about four weeks. And it only made me curious to learn more.
Learning how to code with Python inspired me to start this blog. I started learning more about web development and how to build websites from scratch.
Just two months later, I felt confident enough to start looking for my first small freelance gigs online.
When I finished my first freelance job, I realized that I wanted to do this for work. So I quit my job and pursued freelancing full-time.
I quickly made my first $1,000 freelancing, and started my own web dev business.
And I have Python Crash Course to thank for everything I’ve achieved. This book taught me the fundamentals of not just Python, but programming in general.
I learned how to approach practical problems and solve them step-by-step with code.
I learned how to think like a programmer, and apply my skills to real-world coding projects.
And I learned how much fun coding can be – with three real projects to showcase my skills by the end of the book.
Final thoughts: Python Crash Course Review
Learning Python with Python Crash Course was an empowering experience. I found a great first programming language to learn and had heaps of fun with it.
Of course, this book didn’t make me job-ready for my first Python developer job. But it was a good starting point. It gave me a solid understanding of what programming is all about and what I can create with Python.
If you are new to coding, and you prefer learning with books in general, this might be the perfect guide for you, too.
It’s best for beginners with very little to no programming experience because the syntax and the code are explained in such detail.
If you go through all exercises in the book and build all three projects, you will get a good overview of what you can do with Python.
The projects are a fantastic starting point for learning more and deepening your Python skills, too. As you learn more, you can add new features and complexity, and build more confidence at the same time.
If you’re looking to learn Python fast and get an introduction to programming in general, you can get your copy directly on Amazon.
If you have any questions about Python Crash Course, please drop me a line in the comments below!
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