Whether you’re planning to expand your programming skills or get a fresh career start as a software developer, learning Python and Django is something you should consider.
In this article, I’ve compiled a comprehensive and up-to-date list of the best Django and Python books and online courses that will help you to achieve just that. Don’t try to do them all at once, though. Start from the beginning, and grow into an expert step-by-step by putting your newly acquired knowledge into practice. For example, go from writing small Python scripts to creating a simple Django app.
Why Learn Python?
As you know, there are plenty of programming languages out there. You’ll probably need more than one life to learn them all. So why do we recommend Python?
- It’s versatile. Since it has more than 125,000 third-party support libraries, you’re likely to find a free solution for your business need, regardless of your industry.
- It’s future-proof. Historically, Python has become a “default” programming language for data science, which means it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, given the growing interest in and demand for data analysis.
- It’s universal. All modern operating systems – like Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X – can run Python code.
- It supports object-oriented programming, which translates into increased productivity for programmers (especially beginners) and easy implementation in many other programming and scripting languages. It’s free and open-source. This is self-explanatory.
- It’s (relatively) easy to learn. Python’s syntax is clear, its language is high level, and its readability is higher than many other programming languages. Plus, it’s easier to identify and correct errors in Python, which means a lot to beginners.
Why Learn Django?
Hopefully, by now you can see my point about Python. Your next logical question might be: fine, but what about Django? Well, let’s see:
- It’s Python-native. The Django web framework is already written in Python, which makes it much easier for developers to build web applications in less time and without additional code.
- It’s ready to use (i.e., batteries included). Django comes with multiple out-of-the-box solutions for the most common tasks and operations.
- It’s secure. Django boasts an incorporated security system that safeguards developers from security mistakes in coding and applications from security attacks.
- It’s scalable. Django applications have shown remarkable stability and reliability in handling any amount of traffic.
And if you work or want to work in a startup, here is the cherry on top for you:
- The Python + Django combo is widely recognized as a go-to solution whenever you need to build an MVP ASAP. As you might guess, this happens a lot in the fast-paced startup environment.
Django is one of the most popular frameworks and, frankly, our most favorite one, but there are few more frameworks for web development and depending on the type of project you may consider using them as well.
But for now, as promised, here is a list of resources that will make you a Python/Django expert in no time.
Best Python books for beginners
You’re off to a good start with any of these books, which are all designed specifically to ease your way into Python programming world:
- Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner. This is the third edition of this highly acclaimed book, which has garnered hundreds of positive reviews t. Bonus: it’s also written in a personal and engaging way.
- Learning Python. Another very popular book (5th edition) for mastering Python, with multiple examples and detailed explanations. It’s logical and comprehensive organization has been praised by thousands of students.
- How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. This course has a goal more ambitious than simply teaching you the ropes – it aims to help you embrace and master problem solving, which the course deems “the single most important skill for a computer scientist.
Python Tutorials and online courses
If you prefer to learn in a more interactive way, check out these tutorials:
- Codecademy is a famous innovative learning platform with 12 programming language courses to choose from. It’s a good place to learn Python programming from scratch. Please note: a Django tutorial is not available.
- Coursera is great. I have taken two Python courses there myself and can vouch for them. However, there are pros and cons to consider: on one hand, they’re good at prompting you to code often enough to get the hang of it. However, if you choose a course for beginners, you might have to wait a couple of weeks until you get to the more advanced stuff.
- Tutorialspoint dives deep into the official documentation, but does it in a clear and digestible way. Here you will learn about the most basic Python concepts and keywords and find some built-in libraries. It can be useful for beginners, but we don’t recommend it as a place to start from if you’re on level zero.
- SoloLearn is particularly great if you enjoy learning on the go – while commuting or waiting in lines, for example. This educational platform offers various programming tutorials, including one for Python. The theory part is thorough and well-organized; the number of learnings for many courses goes well beyond a million, which speaks for itself. That said, I have to admit that the practice part looks awkward at times. Some examples are not very clear, and you’re not very likely to run across code like that in real life.
Best Django books for beginners
- Tango with Django. This is a great introduction to Django for beginners and provides valuable insights into web development overall. It’s a good first stop if you’re looking to build a strong foundation of Django expertise. You can purchase it on Amazon or use it online for free.
- Djangobook. The first edition is available for free right now, and the Django 2 version is being worked on as we speak. This resource is a great step-by-step guide on how to build your first Django web app and includes multiple references to the official documentation.
- The Definitive Guide to Django: Web Development Done Right. Even though this book mostly talks about an older version of Django ( Django 1.1), I can still recommend it to you mostly because of its authors: Jacob Kaplan-Moss and Adrian Holovaty, the co-creators of Django. Their book covers all of the basic concepts, and you can find answers to almost any of your Django-related questions.
If you feel you have a solid understanding of fundamentals and are ready for a new challenge, take it to the next level with these books for intermediate to advanced programmers.
Advanced Django & Python Books
- Django documentation – an “all you need to know” source of official Django documentation. Look for anything with the word “advanced” in front of it. Happy digging! (You’ll also find Django tutorials for beginners, so take your time and look around.)
- Fluent Python: Clear, Concise, and Effective Programming by Luciano Ramalho is the most essential book on this topic, as for me. It takes you through the main Python’s features and libraries, covering even the most hidden ones. Also, it simply teaches you how to be fast, effective and proficient with Python, which is the main reason for all of this, right?
- Python Essential Reference (4th Edition) by David M. Beazley – designed for professional programmers, this books contains a lot of useful information on Python libraries not easily available from other sources;
- Effective Python by Brett Slatkin – this book will help seasoned programmers make the most of their time and effort and learn new ways to use Python effectively;
- Two Scoops of Django: Best Practices for Django – this is a collection of tips, tricks (including but not limited to cool code snippets) to make your Python programming both more enjoyable and efficient;
- Django How-To Guides – a well-organized compilation of practical instructions that answer all of your “how do I…?” questions.
While working with a book or on a course, it might be a good idea to surround yourself with as much relevant information as possible, for full immersion, so to speak. In this case, more dynamic and interactive sources of information will be a big help.
Python & Django Email Newsletters
Subscribe to these weekly newsletters dedicated to Python and Django to keep pace with the latest trends and hottest issues in the field:
Follow these Python and Django experts to hear the latest news straight from the horse’s mouth:
- Guido van Rossum — creator of Python and the original BDFL
- Tom Christie — Author of Django REST framework
- Andrew Godwin — Django core developer
- David Beazley — Python Cookbook author
- Carl Friedrich Bolz — PyPy core developer
- Adrian Holovaty — Django co-creator
Django Stars Articles
Check out more articles and tutorials on our blog to get more insights and valuable tips on how to unleash the full power of the Python-Django combo for your needs:
And Practice, Practice, Practice.
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Programming is a hands-on skill, so try to get as much practice as you can, whether it’s a home assignment from your online course or an internship opportunity with a company. I say: go for it! Only after using your knowledge on a daily basis will you become a real expert and advance your skills to a professional level.
Get started today – your new career is just around the corner.