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The Head First book series

July 30, 2014

I’ve been reading Head First Java this past week and I’m super impressed and want to tell you guys about it if you don’t already know.

The stuff inside is even sillier.

The stuff inside is even sillier.

I wanted to learn what the big fuss was about object-oriented programming, plus it seems like all the classes my Lede students are planning to take either require python or java, so this seemed like a nice bridge.

But the book is outstanding, with quirky cartoons and a super fun attitude, and I’m on page 213 after less than a week, and yes that’s out of more than 600 pages but what I’m saying is that it’s a thrilling read.

My one complaint is how often the book talks about motivating programmers with women in tight sweaters. And no, I don’t think they were assuming the programmers were lesbians, but I could be wrong and I hope I am. At the beginning they made the point that people remember stuff better when there is emotional attachment to things, so I’m guessing they’re getting me annoyed to help me remember details on reference types.

Here’s another Head First book which my nerd mom recommended to me some time ago, and I bought but haven’t read yet, but now I really plan to: Head First Design Patterns. Because ultimately, programming is just a tool set and you need to learn how to think about constructing stuff with those tools. Exciting!

And by the way, there is a long list of Head First books, and I head good things about the whole series. Honestly I will never write a technical book in the old-fashioned dry way again.

  1. pjm
    July 30, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I know about Head First but haven’t read them. Getting to know Design Patterns changed my professional life as a programmer (I did C++) using object-orientation. It made me realize the useful all of kinds of language features and it enabled me to think at a higher level of abstraction when it came to designing programs.
    To some extent, the programming community took a long time to figure out what to do with all the language features in C++, Design Patterns (along with some other ideas such as interface/contract oriented programming) was a big part of the development of best practices.


  2. July 30, 2014 at 9:44 am

    After ten years of [only] managing R&D projects, I got technical again with Head First Java in 2005, and agree with the assessment that it is an outstanding book. I found myself literally laughing out loud many times while working through the book, the first – and, come to think of it, last – computer science book to trigger that reaction since I read The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Abelson & Sussman (& Sussman). A delightfully informative and empowering read.

    I attribute the women in tight sweaters to the epoch from which photos were selected, rather than anything sexual (or sexist) intentions. Kathy Sierra, one of the co-authors, has done a great deal – and suffered a great deal – in her efforts to stand up for women in technology.


  3. mathematrucker
    July 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for the timely tip. My current pet project is an app that is pretty much finished for iOS, OS X and Windows thanks to FileMaker Pro Advanced and FileMaker Go which I am fully familiar with, but I feel it must also be available for Android before attempting to sell it. A good book on Java is just what the doctor ordered.


  4. Johan
    July 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I remember struggling with intro statistics, especially with the textbook. Looking for an alternative I found Head First Statistics. Now, in hindsight I can say its not the best Head First book out there, but it was a huge improvement on the textbook we used and I went from struggling in the course to acing it.
    Now add in that I paid over 150€ for the university statistics textbook and only 24€ for the Head First book. (To be fair the textbook covered a bit more material.) I’ve never been able to look at a university textbook the same again. Most of them are pretty bad, and really expensive. I think there must be something really wrong in the university textbook market.


  5. July 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    the head 1st books are unrivalled for appealing to right brain vs the typical common/large left-brain bias in coding and am a big fan, sold on day1 upon finding them. glad you came across them! they also remind me of larry gonicks great comics on science…. so now theres no turning back from hardcore geek world, as if there was ever any doubt with you 😀


  6. August 1, 2014 at 3:09 am

    Now I’m reading Head First Design Patterns and I strongly recommend it. As pjm says, design patterns can change how you think about design and how you approach it. The style of the book is such that you can’t avoid to learn. Very good reading.


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