Looking for the best C programming books to get you up to speed or hone your skills?
This list was first published in 2011, and has been updated yearly since.
C is a general-purpose, powerful system programming language and is one of the most widely used programming languages of all time. C has proven to be a powerful and flexible language that can be used for a variety of applications, from business programs to engineering. It is for this reason C remains a popular language even with the rise of C++ (see The 9 Best C++ Books of 2013 (Beginners to Advanced) list here). The C books listed below are all extremely popular around the web, well-written, well-received and easy to follow for their relevant skill bracket. Whether you are new to C and programming in general or need to master intricacies of the language to score that high-paying role, one of the best C programming books listed below will be perfect for you.
Best Beginner C Programming Books
C Programming: A Modern Approach, 2nd Edition
C Programming: A Modern Approach is a very highly rated beginners C book and is popular with both students and faculty alike because of its comprehensive and well-written introduction to the language. It’s got great Q&A sections that challenge encourage you hone your C skills, making you ‘think’ like a programmer. It’s full of clear reasoning behind the code and the examples are concise. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to jump in and learn the C language, even if you are new to programming in general. Read more..
C Primer Plus (5th Edition)
C Primer Plus has been revised for the 5th edition to include over 20 new programming exercises, improved examples and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn C, especially new programmers. It is a friendly and easy to follow study guide that will teach you the fundamentals of C. However it is challenging enough to really sharpen your skills and will have you remembering what you learn each chapter. All the concepts are clearly laid out and explained, with review questions and programming exercises at the end of each chapter. Another great beginners book. Read more..
Programming in C (3rd Edition)
Programming in C also deserves a spot on this list; it has a very straight-forward, easy to follow style as a beginner learning the language. Its writing style is well-paced and logical, with exercises at the end of each chapter solidifying what you have learnt. Every facet of C is covered, from variables, program looping and functions to pointers, the pre-processors, arrays and I/O. It’s also got great appendices which are packed with useful information and offer a lot of value. Read more..
Best Intermediate C Programming Books
The Standard C Library
The Standard C Library is considered a ‘must have’ by many C programmers and reviewers of the book. It assumes you’ve already an experienced C++ programmer, and delivers three treatments of the Standard C library: the text from the standard, a detailed commentary, and a prototype implementation. It pretty much delivers the full source code of all the standard libraries, letting you see how things work on the inside. It’s clear, efficient, and acts as a perfect reference to the standard library. Each header has a chapter, and each chapter details all the functions within that are available, how they work, and how to implement them. Read more..
The C Puzzle Book
The C Puzzle Book is an old classic that presents a series of challenging C program puzzles that its readers need to analyze and then predict the output that will appear on the screen. Each puzzle is followed by a detailed, step-by-step explanation of what happened and how a solution is reached. These interesting puzzle examples will really help you understand the nuances of C and gain a greater mastery of the language. This book will really exercise you C skills and ensure you’ve really got a firm grasp of what’s actually going on within the C programs you write. Read more..
Best Advanced C Programming Books
Expert C Programming: Deep C Secrets
Expert C Programming delves into advanced C programming topics and obscurities such as declarations, arrays/pointers, memory usage and compiling. It is intended for those with plenty of C programming experience wanting to earn that ‘professional’ tag and is also ideal for C programmers who want to move into C++. It is full of great information and detailed explanations of C’s advanced features and how they work ‘under the hood’. Read more..
Best C Programming Reference Books
C Programming Language (2nd Edition)
C Programming Language (widely known as K&R, after the authors’ initials) was written by the developers of C and is an extremely well-known and popular C programming book. It is both an excellent tutorial book as well as a clear reference manual for the language, but it does assume its readers have knowledge of and experience in structured programming languages. It also covers such topics as operators, economy of expressions, improved control flow, and data structures. To top it all off, it’s got a very comprehensive and useful index. Read more..
C Pocket Reference
The C Pocket Reference is a well organised and concise little must-have for any C programmer. It’s got a well laid out table of contents, sound language description, a short but solid reference to the C standard library covering C99 as well as an comprehensive index. It is not for beginners looking to learn the language, but rather a compact reference explaining C nuances and giving short but valuable examples. Read more..