I personally like to use books as a source for learning new material because they will typically teach you much more about the fundamental aspects of a language than one-shot tutorials that you will often find online. I find it especially useful to make myself go through the exercises. Although this often means learning something not immediately pertinent to a project I might have in mind, I find that these exercises force me to learn helpful material. I will often find myself returning to these exercises to solve problems or remind myself of how things, ‘work.’
Books are also good for references. Sometimes, you just need a good ‘dictionary’ for each language and having a reference manual on hand is useful.
- For an updated list of books that were recently reviewed, I’d suggest the following blog post: http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2012/05/html-books-for-beginners.html
- Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML (1st edition) By Eric T Freeman ISBN: 9780596101978 O’Reilly Media (2005-12-15)
With 4.5 stars and over 350 reviews on Amazon, I’m confident that this is one of the better books for getting started with Web development in HTML and CSS. Great for beginners.
- Bibeault, B., & Katz, Y. (2008). jQuery in action. Manning Publications.
This is the book that I used to get started with jQuery. It’s got some handy examples, great explanations of the way and reason jQuery works. Perhaps the most useful thing I found when using this book is the online resources, especially the labs. This is where I learned to manipulate different selectors. Very useful.
I haven’t read this, but it’s a contender in the “best jQuery” book realm. In the discussions I’ve read, it usually loses out (slightly) to jQuery in Action. Again, though, both books are available at BYU’s online repository, so try it and if you don’t like it, switch to the other one.
- MacFarland, D.S. (2009). CSS: The missing manual (2nd ed.). O’Reilly Media, Inc.
This book garners high praise and is readily readable for beginners. Make sure you get the 2nd edition, updated for more modern browsers (that’s still not going to solve the perpetual IE problems, but that’s not something a book can solve;). Also available at BYU’s online e-book references.
- Budd, A., Collison, S., & Moll, C. (2009). CSS mastery: Advanced web solutions (2nd edition).
OK, I’m finally recommending a book for advanced users that’s not available via BYU’s e-books. This is supposed to be a key resource for those already familiar with CSS. It’ll take you beyond the basics and help you do some really neat stuff (all validated, of course ;).
- Shupe, R., & Rosser, Z (2007). Learning Action Script 3.0, a Beginner’s Guide. O’Reilly Media, Inc.
I haven’t used this book personally, but all over the web, people claim that this is a great beginner’s book. My feeling is that if you’ve never touched any sort of programming before, this might seem like more of an intermediate book. However, some of the more advanced stuff has several experts claiming that this book is also a great resource for them. Lucky for us, it’s actually in BYU’s online e-books, so you can check it out for free and, if you don’t like it, try another book.
- Mook, C. (2007). Essential ActionScript 3.0. O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Many claim that this is THE ActionScript book. However, it does have a more experienced-programmer bent to it. So, if you’ve got some experience coding already, this is probably a resource you want to use. It’s also available in BYU’s online references, so, have at it!
PHP & MySQL (to be able to work with back-end information)
For an updated, 2013 list, here’s one site’s top-10 best books to learn PHP, with a brief overview of each book.
Even the low-star reviews of this book state, “this isn’t a bad book.” But a high-star review does indicate that you need a working knowledge of HTML before getting started.
- Ullman, L. (2007). PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for dynamic websites: Visual Quickpro.
Probably the highest rated (4.5 stars) beginner’s book for php and mysql. Some experts complain that it’s not focused on OOP (i.e., Object-Oriented Programming), like most other books. That can be a weakness or a strength, depending on your position. BTW, it’s also available through BYU’s e-books.
The Big Nerd Ranch puts out a well-liked group of trainings, and their books are often described as a programming book written for programmers.
- Lewis, R. (2010). iPhone and iPad apps for absolute beginners. Apress.
I’ve read some great reviews about the videos associated with this book and the simple manner in which the teacher addresses things. The complaints I’ve read are that the code in the book is often wrong and the code online is often missing. So, it’s a good book for beginners, but you may also be debugging your code a bit.
- Nutting, J., Woolridge, D., & Mark, D. (2010). Beginning iPad development for iPhone developers: Mastering the iPad SDK. Apress.
This is more for those with a little bit of experience, but the initial reviews are satisfactory (not great, but they’re ok).