This is a list of 7 best C# books.
These books helped me grow to a senior role as a .NET developer.
If you are looking to get into web development, mobile apps, or game development, read on.
1. C# 9 and .NET 5-Modern Cross-Platform Development
Best book for C# and .NET beginners
C# 9 and .NET 5-Modern Cross-Platform Development is my top pick.
The author gets straight to the point.
In the first chapter, you'll already be installing Visual Studio Code, GitHub, and the .NET runtime.
Visual Studio Code works on all major operating systems.
From there, the author covers topics from how-to-debug to multitasking.
This book is easy to read and it is packed with practical hands-on walkthroughs of each subject.
This book is for you if you are just starting out or if you want to learn more about new C# features in recent years.
- Easy to read
- Has practical examples
- The chapter on how to use a CMS is great for beginners in web development. (the author works for Episerver)
- The book goes from very easy concepts to very hard concepts. You'll have to do a lot of learning between each chapter.
This book is concise.
The author divided chapters and headings, so it's easier to follow.
Also, there are a bunch of call-outs with "good practices".
If you are a beginner, this book is for you.
2. C# in Depth
Best C# book for intermediate and advanced programmers
C# in Depth will teach you complex C# topics.
The author packed this book with details that you need to know to become a senior developer.
It explores complex language features, such as lambda expressions, delegates, and tuple destructions.
When I started reading it, I made the mistake of reading it chapter-by-chapter. But it's too dense to grasp in one sitting.
Instead, this book shines if you focus on a specific topic.
For example, if you are using a lot of LINQ in your .NET project, then read the LINQ chapter.
- You'll understand the evolution of C# and why it looks the way it does.
- It has a lot of great content and examples that will help you learn more about how the language works under the hood.
- Some topics are confusing. The author doesn't explain everything in plain language.
It took me a while to get used to Jon Skeet's way of explaining things. After a few pages, I understood the flow of his explanations and how it made sense.
You should definitely read this book if you work with C#.
Jon Skeet wrote C# in Depth.
He's a C# legend.
If you live under a rock — Jon Skeet is a Senior Software Engineer at Google.
He earned his status by helping people on Stackoverflow. He answered over 30 thousand programming questions there.
3. C# 9. 0 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference
Yes, you read that right.
C# in a Nutshell touches on almost all core concepts of C#.
The author explains each feature of C# in a page or less.
So you can imagine how much information you get.
If you are a beginner, this book is a great reference and reminder as you go through programming tutorials.
If you are an experienced developer, this book will show you a lot of C# features that you didn't know about.
- Condensed format of this book.
- Information overload - not everything is relevant.
- Some topics lack details.
This book is good to have around.
I prefer having a digital version because it's quick to search.
4. Pro C# 9 with .NET 5
Best book for building .NET applications
Nowadays, we rarely use C# without the .NET Framework.
This book covers both.
The authors designed the book so you can learn by building applications. The goal is to get you started with modern cross-platform development.
(Just get through the first couple of pages where they dive into assemblies and runtimes. )
If you like code examples, this book is for you.
Examples cover almost half of every page.
- A lot of useful code examples.
- Covering a lot of topics - Entity Framework, parallel programming, Multithreaded, ADO.NET, Windows Client Development
- It sometimes feels like a textbook. The authors get too descriptive about topics that are not very useful on a day-to-day basis.
Pro C# 9 with .NET 5 is great if you use it right.
I don't think all chapters bring equal valuable.
For example, the book covers object-oriented programming concepts and REST APIs. It's nice to refresh if you are rusty with your OOP skills, but it doesn't help too much if you are new to it.
So, before you start, look at the chapter titles. Then figure out what you need from there.
5. ASP.NET Core in Action
Best book for application development with C# and ASP.NET
ASP.NET Core in Action will show you how to develop cross-platform web applications.
Unlike other books listed earlier, the author doesn't focus on details of the C# language.
Instead, he shows the practical side of using the framework.
So, you will find a lot of code examples like how to add authentication, build APIs, how to use Razor pages, and background tasks.
If you are completely new to the C# programming language and web development, it might be too much to grasp.
So start with the C# books for beginners and then come back to this book.
The author, Andrew Lock, has a very active blog with a lot of in-depth tutorials.
If you are thinking about buying this book, definitely check out his in-depth tutorials.
- Plenty of graphs.
- The author connects topics to real-world applications.
- Has great code examples of real-world scenarios like API development, middleware ,and database access.
I like how the author covers the .NET ecosystem in depth.
I've learned a lot about some less-known .NET features.
The .NET framework has many complex concepts, but the author uses colorful graphs to explain them.
Once you get past the basic understanding of MVC and Web APIs, understanding how .NET works is crucial.
I think this book is a must-read for every web developer.
6. Unity in Action: Multiplatform game development in C#
Best book for C# game development
If you are into game development, you probably don't want to spend months learning a programming language.
That's where Unity helps.
Unity is a robust game development platform that offers many features out-of-the-box.
Which means less coding for you.
Unity in Action will help you develop games immediately.
It puts focus on Unity, not on C#. But it has plenty of C# code examples.
The author mentions that it's an intro to Unity for experienced programmers. But I think it will make sense even if you know little about programming.
Note: Get the digital version, too. Images are hard to see in the paperback version.
- The author talks directly with the reader.
- You build a real game project.
- Some examples are hard to find in Unity's interface. But it's a book, not a video.
- The backend server example is in PHP.
This book is brilliant because you develop a game from the beginning to the end.
Developing games with Unity is fun. And this book makes it even more fun.
7. Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well: C# for Beginners with Hands-on Project
Best quick guide to learn C#
Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well will introduce you to major C# features.
(spoiler alert: you won’t “learn” C# in a day :) )
In one afternoon, you can cover all the basic concepts.
The book is easy to understand, even if you don't have any prior background in coding.
This book is for you if:
- you are a beginner in C#
- you are an experienced coder but new to C#
Learn C# in One Day covers a wide area of topics:
- Simple data types, variables, and operators
- More advanced data types - Arrays, Strings, and Lists
- Control flow
- Conditional statements
- Simple object-oriented programming
- File handling
- Payroll software example
- The book is easy to understand, even if you are a beginner.
- The author covers complex topics using easy-to-understand examples.
- Each topic is covered in half-a-page paragraphs. You will need another book if you want to go more in-depth.
Read this book if you are in a rush.
Consider these books if you want to learn C#:
- C# in Depth is for you if you are an advanced C# programmer who wants to learn the evolution of C#.
- Pro C# 9 with .NET 5 is for you if you are a beginner or intermediate .NET developer who wants to learn advanced concepts and their application in .NET.
- C# 9 and .NET 5 – Modern Cross-Platform Development is easy to read, but it is packed with a lot of hands-on examples. It will teach you how to become a C# developer and be productive no matter your level.
- ASP.NET Core in Action is great if you are looking to get into ASP.NET application development. You will find tons of code examples to help you get started.
- Unity in Action: Multi-platform game development in C# is great for experienced programmers who want to get into Unity development. You will find plenty of code examples you can just plug and play into your projects. If you have experience with other programming languages, you'll love this book.
- C# 9. 0 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference is detailed. It will teach you all the nitty-gritty of C#.
- Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well is for you if you are a beginner in C#. If you just got your Computer Science degree, you will find this book to be a great quick intro to C#.
How to choose a right C# book?
To chose the right book to learn C#, think about what you want to achieve.
Have you worked with any programming languages before?
C# is an object-oriented programming language, so some concepts are very similar to Java.
If you are looking to learn more about Visual Studio, game development, or learning C# with Unity, read Unity in Action.
If you are looking to get into the .NET Core platform and start building cloud-side software, read C# 9 and .NET 5 – Modern Cross-Platform Development.
Why learn C#?
C# is a valuable programming language. But the true power comes when we pair it with the .NET.
.NET is a free, cross-platform, and open-source platform for building applications.
You should learn C# because it's universal. With the .NET framework, you can build applications for the web, mobile, desktop, games, and more.
If you want a career as a web developer, it's crucial to be strong in programming languages and frameworks.
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