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Best Python Books in 2023 (Beginner & Advanced)

Best Python Books Beginner Advanced Cover Image

In this post, we’re going to explore the best books to learn Python in 2023, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user. Finding the right book to learn can make or break your learning journey. Python is an incredibly in-demand skill for professional software developers, data analysts, and anyone looking to advance their career.

This post will cover the best books to help get you started or advance your career even further! While we generally focus on data science here on datagy, this post will cover the best general Python programming books as well as machine learning-specific books. Want to learn Python for free? Check out my 30 day course here.

Updated for 2023

This post has been updated for 2023! While many of the recommendations are still the same, I have added a handful of new books that I really enjoyed personally. I’ll keep updating the list as I find new interesting books.

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Best Python Book for Beginners: Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition

The best Python book for beginners in 2023 is Python Crash Course (2nd Edition). The book is the best-selling Python book, providing a hands-on approach to teaching you. The first half of the book is dedicated to teaching you the fundamentals of Python programming, such as lists, variables, and loops.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The book quickly takes you to interactive programming, giving you hands-on opportunities to use what you’re learning. The book takes you much beyond a beginner programmer, giving you three hands-on projects with very different applications. The book will teach you to:

What I Liked Most about Python Crash Course, 2nd Edition

There’s a lot to like about this book! The book assumes no previous programming knowledge, but it also doesn’t feel overly simplified. The book empowers you to understand programming, giving you enough information to let you make your own decisions based on what you’ve learned.

The hands-on projects give you a wide range of different experiences that cover off many different domains of programming. Being able to build a video game that you’ll actually be able to play beats a lot of the theoretical projects that other books focus on.

Python plays a huge role in modern data science and machine learning. Being able to learn how to build visualizations and web apps (using Django) provides you with actionable portfolio projects to help show off what you’ve learned.

Best Applied Python Book for Beginners: Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, 2nd Edition

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python book is one of the best-selling books in Python, and deservedly so! The book promises to, well, help you automate the boring things in your life. And it manages to do exactly that! The book is beginner-friendly but also provides enough motivation for experienced programmers to think outside their area of expertise.

You’ll learn many exciting things to make your day-to-day life (both at work and at home) easier. This includes scraping web data, automating clicking tasks, and working with Gmail and Google Sheets. Some of the other things you’ll learn include:

  • Renaming files and folders in a matter of seconds
  • Finding text in different files without needing to open them
  • Update and format Excel spreadsheets easily and efficiently

What I liked Most About Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, 2nd Edition

The book makes it incredibly easy to feel like an experienced programmer. And it doesn’t just make you feel like one – it actually can make you an apt programmer. The book provides a huge assortment of hands-on projects, which are undoubtedly the best way to learn.

What I really loved about this book is that it demonstrates how easy it is to automate mundane and time-consuming tasks. The book really empowers you to see your everyday challenges as something that’s quite solvable.

Best Visual Python Book for Beginners: Head-First Python, 2nd Edition

Head First Python is part of a larger “Head-First” series that has been used to teach a variety of programming languages. It’s a tried and tested formula for teaching programming by letting you dive headfirst into Python programming.

The book is a bit shorter than others on the list. However, this doesn’t mean it’s sparse in teaching ability. The book provides the ability to learn in discrete chunks. It also provides a large amount of illustrations, which can be incredibly valuable for more complex concepts like object-oriented programming.

The book covers off:

  • The basics of Python and how best to store data
  • How to build a web-app using Flask and how to store data in a database
  • How to work with objects and decorators to modify your functions’ behaviors

What I liked Most About Head-First Python, 2nd Edition

The book provides a ton of helpful visuals to guide you through learning Python. The illustrations are often helpful and provide a good amount of comedic relief. It’s certainly not a dry programming book and provides enough distraction to keep you engaged in the content!

The book also follows along with a single project and goes so far as to let you build a web app using the micro-framework, Flask. This is definitely a great project to show off on your resume and portfolio. That said, it’s not as immediately actionable as Automate the Boring Stuff with Python. However, it covers a lot more depth than other beginner books.

Best Intermediate Python Book: Fluent Python – Clear, Concise, and Effective Programming

Fluent Python teaches you how to think in a Pythonic way. Because this book is aimed at intermediate programmers it seeks to address two main situations:

  1. It aims to change experienced programmers coming from other languages to think more Pythonically
  2. It encorages those moving from beginner to intermediate Python programmers to discover more useful elements of the language

Because Python is a simple language it encourages you to get up and running quickly. But this approach can often mask the complexity of codebases you can develop.

Among other concepts, you’ll learn about:

  • Data structures and data models
  • Metaprogramming concepts and using functions as objects
  • Generators and concurrency

What I liked Most About Fluent Python

I loved how Fluent Python guides you through everything you’d learn in a beginner book, but takes you to the next level. The book takes Python programming concepts like tuples and dictionaries and explains how they can be turned into more advanced data structures.

Because of this, it assumes you have a good handle on the basics of these structure. However, it encourages you to think about how much more these structures and concepts have to offer. The book takes your foundational knowledge of Python and extends it by encouraging you to understand why improving your code is important. The chapter on generators, for example, teaches you the importance of thinking about memory management.

Best Advanced Python Book: Python Cookbook, 3rd Edition

The Python Cookbook provides to advanced programmer tools to discover modern tools and idioms. The book assumes you already know Python and are looking for ways in which to make your code better and more Pythonic.

This book isn’t an introductory book. It assumes you already have a good handle on the topics covered and that you want to improve your understanding. The Python Cookbook will teach you more about how Python works, not just that it works. It will also help you write more elegant, readable, and Pythonic code.

Some of the pieces you’ll learn about include flattening lists, improving data structures with other libraries, and safely handling file operations.

Among other topics, you’ll learn about:

  • Data strctures and algorithms
  • Iterators and generators
  • Files and I/O
  • Network and Web Programming

What I liked Most About Python Cookbook

I loved how specific this book was. It was not a general programming book, but rather a very specific book that can teach very widely applicable things. For example, you’ll learn how to turn common data structures, such as tuples into namedtuples to make your code cleaner, safer, and better.

As with any programming cookbook, you’ll be given a ton of different recipes for something very specific. A normal cookbook doesn’t teach you to cook in general, but how to cook a specific meal. Similarly, this book will teach you very specific (though very useful) things to improve your code.

Best Machine Learning Python Book: Introduction to Machine Learning with Python – A Guide for Data Scientists

Introduction to Machine Learning with Python teaches you how to dive into the exciting world of machine learning with Python. It assumes that you know a bit about Python programming, but assumes that you’re not an expert in statistics. The book will teach you how to write good, clean machine learning-oriented code. Of course, a book in itself isn’t enough to make you master machine learning, but it sets a good foundation for putting what you learned into practice.

Throughout the book, you’ll learn how to become an apt user of Scikit-Learn and take on supervised and unsupervised machine learning models. You’ll learn how to:

  • Build classifiers and regressors using Scikit-Learn
  • Build unsupervised machine learning models
  • Understand how to make use of one of the most widely used machine-learning packages, Scikit Learn

What I liked Most About Introduction to Machine Learning with Python

I loved the hands-on approach to not only understanding how to write the code of Scikit-Learn, but understanding why the code is written in the way it is. There is an abundance of machine learning tutorials online, but many skip over the why of the code.

This may be fine for people that already understand machine learning programming, but it’s not for the majority of people. This book doesn’t shy away from that and lets you become a better data scientist by understanding these elements!

Best Deep Learning Python Book: Machine Learning with PyTorch and Scikit-Learn

Machine Learning with PyTouch and Scikit-Learn allows the reader to understand the traditional Scikit-Learn but also move into using PyToch for building and understanding neural networks. It’s an incredibly recent book that covers code in the most recent versions of their respective libraries.

The book guides you through the learning process. Much like other books aimed at beginner programmers, this book builds on top of one another. It provides a great mix of concepts, theory, and practice.

Throughout the book, you’ll learn:

  • How to build neural networks from scratch and how PyTorch makes its easier
  • How to use neural networks for natural language processing and image generation

What I liked Most About Machine Learning with PyTorch and Scikit-Learn

I loved the mix between concepts, theory, and practice. Neural networks are incredibly difficult concepts – by understanding the pieces that make up a neural network, your confidence can easily grow in the topic.

Because each chapter builds on top of one another, you’re guided through complicated concepts in a way that feels empowering. By learning, for example, how to build a neural network from scratch, you can understand the design patterns of PyTorch.

What do I love the most about this book? It makes difficult concepts approachable and manageable!

Best Python Book for Kids: Python for Kids – A Playful Introduction to Programming

Python for Kids helps make coding in Python interesting, both visually and through word, for kids. The book users color and illustrations to keep the content engaging. Similarly, it teaches kids to program in a way that keeps them interested. Examples use monsters and secret agents.

The book, however, also teaches many different important concepts – though in a fun, engaging way. Kids will learn:

  • Data structures and functions
  • Conditional flow
  • How to draw shape, patterns, and user interfaces

What I liked Most About Python for Kids

I loved that the book teaches programming in a way that’s usable for kids. Kids aren’t worried about building the next machine learning model to change the world. Rather, the book focuses on building games and showing kids how to build engaging and fun programs!

Best Book for Learning Data Structures and Algorithms: A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms

A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms is an approachable way to learn data structures and algorithms. With many people jumping into programming and data science without a formal computer science degree (myself included!), data structures and algorithms can be an often-overlooked topic.

Thankfully, this book makes the topic incredibly approachable. While the examples are written in Python, JavaScript, and Rust, they should be easy enough to follow.

What you’ll get out of this book:

  • How to approach data structures and algorithms in a hands-on, practical way
  • How to understand Big O notation in the context of everyday programming
  • How to understand data structures and algorithms using helpful visuals

What I Liked Best About A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms

I loved that this book was incredibly approachable while being quite serious about getting you up and running with data structures and algorithms. The progression of the book follows a good rhythm and makes sure you understand all of the examples. Moreso, it drills in why different elements are important.

Alternative for Learning Data Structures and Algorithms: Grokking Algorithms: An Illustrated Guide for Programmers and Other Curious People

If you’d prefer a much more visual approach to learning data structures and algorithms, Grokking Algorithms: An Illustrated Guide for Programmers and Other Curious People is a great alternative. The book provides incredible visuals for each data structure and algorithm, allowing you to dive deep into how they work and why it matters.

What you’ll learn in this book:

  • How to approach data structures and algorithms in a hands-on, practical way
  • How to understand data structures and algorithms using helpful visuals

What I Liked Best About Grokking Algorithms: An Illustrated Guide for Programmers and Other Curious People

The visual approach can be a good foray into understanding complex data structures and algorithms. I liked reading this book in tandem with A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms. While I’m not typically a visual learner, some of the topics covered really benefited from the approach.


In this post, I explored the best books to learn Python in 2023. Each section covered off a different area that you may want to learn about, from total beginners to those wanting to break into deep learning. Each of these books will teach you different critical pieces to understand in your Python journey. If you’ve read any of them, let me know in the comments what you think!

Nik Piepenbreier

Nik is the author of and has over a decade of experience working with data analytics, data science, and Python. He specializes in teaching developers how to use Python for data science using hands-on tutorials.View Author posts

1 thought on “Best Python Books in 2023 (Beginner & Advanced)”

  1. I have written a book on Python which discusses the language in a novel way. The book has just been published by Apress under the title Pragmatic Python Programming. It has received very positive reviews from the first readers and its Hungarian language predecessor is one of the best selling IT books in the Hungarian market. If you are interested in considering adding to your list, the publisher can send you an electronic copy for review. (Naturally, no pressure and just include “Pragmatic Python Programming” on your list if you really think it deserves its place.)

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