Recommendations for computer books
December 20, 2004 3:44 AM   Subscribe

What computer books should I buy? i've been given 250 Euro's of book tokens for Waterstones (large UK chain). As I'm in Brussels, I can't thumb through the shelves, but will have to order them, I would appreciate any ideas.

Primarily I am interested in dreamweaver MX, Photoshop 7.0, PHP, asp and website and network management etc.
posted by quarsan to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I think there actually is a Waterstones shop in Brussels. A friend of mine works there.
posted by Skyanth at 4:32 AM on December 20, 2004

posted by Skyanth at 4:33 AM on December 20, 2004

How advanced a user/programmer are you? As an intermediate-level (read: hack) designer, I am a fan of the books from these guys. Good value and easy to read.
posted by mds35 at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2004

What mds35 said. Good selection of Dreamweaver (for regular and power users), ASP, PHP, website management, and all sorts of web stuff. The Nutshell books are especially good if you've got experience in the field and just need a thorough yet concise reference.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:41 AM on December 20, 2004

Response by poster: ap0ologies for not being clear, there is a waterstones, but the selection isn't large, so there aren't many for me to look through, i would have to order 'blind', as it were.

i'm looking for beginner/intermediate. thanks for the oreilly tip, i have the web design in a nutshell and it's a great book.

i'm open to any ideas and appreciate the replies.
posted by quarsan at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2004

For beginners, I would look to Peachpit Press. O'Reilly is great but you have to know a bit more about what you're looking for so you don't get overwhelmed by the wealth of information they provide.
posted by matildaben at 8:16 AM on December 20, 2004

Code Complete is a must have programmers book.
Eric Meyer on CSS
The Pragmatic Programmer
posted by seanyboy at 8:54 AM on December 20, 2004

code complete v2 is available for free on the web (or it used to be - i have it on disk somewhere). it's very much for beginner software engineers. if you're more into computer science (the cool stuff, imho) you might like sicp (also available online these days), cousineau + mauny (which i prefer to sicp, personally, but it's an acquired taste), norvig's ai in lisp book, paul graham's "on lisp". none of those have anything to do with your job, but are classics (i don't use lisp/scheme, i should add) that might broaden your horizons, if you're curious (start with just one - i'd hate to waste your money!). oh, and, "the fun of programming" is pretty good and more up-to-date than the others above.

or, another more recent alternative - this doorstop (which used to be available online in draft form, but is probably now only available as dead tree).
posted by andrew cooke at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2004

O'Reilly often has substantial chunks of their books online, so you can evaluate them a little. But I've found that the only way to really evaluate a book is by using it.

I still havea shelf full of books, and use few of them. I made a lot of use of Wrox's Active Server Pages 3.0, until I got the much slimmer and more information-dense O'Reilly VBScript and VBA In A Nutshell, which quickly became dogeared and dripping with markers. Similarly, O'Reilly's Dynamic HTML, The Definitive Reference has done invaluable service. That said, I'd bought some really crappy O'Reilly books (e.g., I loathe their flagship Linux book, Running Linux).

Think about what you want from a book. Is it a reference, or a set of ideas? References are often better had on the web (e.g., the online documentation at is far superior to any PHP book, reference or otherwise, that I've ever seen).
posted by lodurr at 10:03 AM on December 20, 2004

Peachpit is good for getting into things quickly, but people tend to outgrow them really fast and need to buy the O'Reilly books for reference. The O'Reilly books on the other hand don't really get you started, but are the ultimate reference.

I've found that the Bible series can work as both a learning book and a reference book. You probably won't outgrow them as they have ridiculous amounts of information, the downside being that they are big and don't travel easily.
posted by spaghetti at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2004

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