The Essential List of JavaScript, jQuery, HTML & CSS Books to Make You a Better Web Developer

Over the years, I’ve read or been recommended a number of books which are essential reading for professional web developers. I’ve compiled the list of books below to help the community find a comprehensive list of good books that can help them be better coders.


Professional JavaScript for Web Developers – My new favorite book. Almost 1,000 pages of VERY detailed JavaScript information. Written by Nicholas Zakas, Yahoo! Principal Front-end Engineer for Yahoo!’s home page and recommended by the YUI team as well. BUY THIS BOOK!

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide – Considered the Bible of JavaScript for its thorough coverage of JavaScript. You need to have this in your library, even as a reference.

DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model – This is a good book to get you familiar with the DOM.

AdvancED DOM Scripting: Dynamic Web Design Techniques

Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax: From Novice to Professional – The book by Christian Heilmann that really got me past the initial hump of plain ‘ole JavaScript. His writing style is awesome.

Object-Oriented JavaScript: Create scalable, reusable high-quality JavaScript applications and libraries – JUST BUY THIS BOOK! Stoyan did a great job of outlining OOJS principles and it’s been incredibly valuable.

JavaScript: The Good Parts – It’s certainly a good book and I would recommend reading it after one of the more intro books like JS for Web Developer by Nicholas Zakas.

Learning jQuery 1.3 – While covering jQuery v1.3, the techniques discussed are still useful and I still recommend the book highly.

Pro JavaScript Techniques – John Resig’s famous book on advanced JS techniques.

Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja – Still not out but considering that John Resig is that author, it’s sure to be great.

ppk on JavaScript, 1/e – One of the first books I picked up and great overview of the language.

Accelerated DOM Scripting with Ajax, APIs, and Libraries

Ajax Security – Billy Hoffman is the man when it comes to Ajax security and this books shows why.

jQuery Cookbook: Solutions & Examples for jQuery Developers (Animal Guide) – Tips & techniques from the jQuery team rolled up in a cookbook style. You can’t go wrong.

jQuery in Action, Second Edition – This is now updated for jQuery v1.4.x as well as jQuery UI 1.8.x. Definitely a must-have for jQuery developers

jQuery Enlightenment – Cody Lindley did an amazing job in outlining the best jQuery techniques in this self-published book. Totally worth the price.

Test-Driven JavaScript Development

jQuery: Novice to Ninja


Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook, Special Edition

Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS (2nd Edition)

The Art & Science Of CSS – This is one of Sitepoint’s best CSS books. Loved it.

HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS, 2nd Edition – Not being a designer, I thought this book was a tremendous help in understanding how to better design sites.

Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML – This has been my goto book for some time. The Head First books are just so great at breaking down topics in easy to understand ways and this book is no exception.

Introducing HTML5 (Voices That Matter) – Going to get this soon mainly because it’s written by Remy Sharp and Bruce Lawson whom I respect tremendously, especially for their HTML5 & CSS3 savvy.

HTML5 For Web Designers – Just got this on 7/19/10. Need to read it by it’s by Jeremy Keith and he rocks.

CSS Cookbook, 3rd Edition (Animal Guide) – Just picked this up on a recommendation.

CSS: The Missing Manual – I keep hearing rave reviews about this book all over the place.

Site Performance & Enhancement

High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers – Steve Souders is the performance guru and if you want your apps to perform better, get this book and the one right below this one.

Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers

High Performance JavaScript (Build Faster Web Application Interfaces) – Again, another great book by Nicholas Zakas which outlines very important performance techniques for JavaScript applications.

Designing with Progressive Enhancement: Building the Web that Works for Everyone – Great book on progressive enhancement by the superstars at the Filament Group.

This is certainly not all inclusive and I’m sure there are other books out there that have been great. If you feel very passionate about a specific title, let me know via the comments and I’ll check it out.

Rey Bango


  1. In terms of jQuery books I would also recommend SitePoint’s “jQuery: Novice to Ninja”

    Also Chapter 3 of the jQuery Cookbook rules!!! ;-)

  2. Stuff like this is soooooo frustrating. Title says “essential” which, to me at least, indicates that there has been some filtering done by someone who is “in the know” about what to avoid vs on what to actually focus my learning time. If I am wrong, please tell me, however I can hardly believe that 15 or so books on Javascript alone are “essential”. We all already know there are a million books on any topic in IT (so i guess in some ways you have filtered things from a million to around 15 or so :) ). Thanks for reminding me again of how confusing it can be to actually choose what to study or where to start.

    I know everyone’s situation is different, and to increase your exposure you as a blog author need to address as many people as possible. But, IMHO, valuable content is what drives valuable traffic to one’s site and I can hardly see the value in listing >15 JS books as essential – that sort of indicates that you either have way too much time to read or are just as lost as the masses when it comes to choosing where to focus your time. Unless you are an engineer on the YUI or JQuery or ExtJS teams (or something like that) I just can not see how reading that many books on one subject is valuable.

    I’ll continue whining in private now . . . :)

    • I disagree. To me, it shows that there are many great books that offer a lot to people and while there’s overlap, each book offers its own unique value. For example, “JavaScript: The Definitive Guide” is an amazing book but incredibly tough to read, IMO, due to verbosity. But it’s a book that has been invaluable to me because of the breadth of coverage of the JS language. I tend to use it more as a reference. I personally find “Professional JavaScript for Web Developers” to be as good and much more readable, especially to people who are just now getting into JavaScript.

      Stoyan’s book on OOJS was awesome because it helped me better understand the ins-and-outs of OOJS, something that, due to my love of jQuery, I had tended to overlook. I think a lot of developers could probably relate to that as well.

      And yes, I do read a lot but it’s not because I have “too much time on my hands” or that I’m lost, but more because as a professional developer, I like to look at new material all the time. If you’re not doing that, then you’re not doing what you need to stay on top of your game. You need to make the time to continue to learn. Just reading “Professional JavaScript for Web Developers” has been incredibly valuable as I’ve learned about things that I’ve either taken for granted or not known about. To me, that’s value and makes the book essential.

      And lastly, yes, I’m part of the jQuery project team so I need to stay on top of these topics so I can contribute to the project and the community in the best way possible.

    • D, While I agree with you, at first glance, this might seem like an all encompassing list of books but it really is the essential list of books. I’ll take the JavaScript/jQuery books for example.

      JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is really a reference book. You look through it when you first get it to familiarize yourself with it’s contents then it should sit next to you when you need to look something up.

      JavaScript: The Good Parts – if you are writing JavaScript and haven’t read this book you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s such a short book too but it is invaluable to developers understand the good standards that JavaScript offers and allows you to develop using those best practices. Douglas Crockford is the godfather of JavaScript and thus his word is holy which makes this book the bible.

      Pro JavaScript Techniques – Written by John Resig, creator of the jQuery JavaScript Library. This book was one of the first JavaScript books to come out and really does a great job of laying out JavaScript in terms you can understand. Again learning JavaScript from someone as smart as John makes this ESSENTIAL.

      Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja – Again written by John Resig is one of the books that will elevate your development skills in JavaScript. Once you think you knew everything in JavaScript Development this book will open your eyes again. I wouldn’t consider this an essential book right away but if you’re looking to take your skills to the next level then this book becomes essential.

      jQuery Cookbook – This is just duh essential. Learn jQuery from those that are closest to the development of jQuery. From jQuery team members to Professional jQuery Developers this book was written by 19 jQuery Community members. Gain their knowledge in bit sized recipies on almost every problem you might face while writing jQuery and jQuery UI. (Disclaimer: I’ve written Chapter 3: Beyond the Basics of this book)

      Learning jQuery 1.3 & Learning jQuery 1.4 (the update to 1.3) – This is one of the top selling books on jQuery and it really does a great job of teaching you jQuery.

      jQuery Enlightenment – you’ve never seen a jQuery e-book like this. It’s direct and to the point and allows you to play with the code example with a click of a link as they are all hosted on allows you to edit the source and play and learn from a starting point.

      jQuery in Action – Alot of books tell you how to do something simple. jQuery in Action gives you the big picture on developing applications with jQuery. In the second addition they expand and show you how to build applications using jQuery UI. Learn the best practices from jQuery Team Member Yehuda Katz who is crazy smart when it comes to development.

      jQuery: Novice to Ninja – I love this book because it wasn’t written by authors that really close to the team or project. So you get an outside looking in approach to jQuery Development which is great in my opinion. I feel this book is essential to jQuery Development but could easily be substituted for jQuery in Action or Learning jQuery 1.x

      Looking over the other books I would say Introducing HTML5 will be a foregone conclusion to be essential due to the authors. Remy Sharp is a blogger that helps with articles on and is a respected developer, speaker, author in HTML5.

      Steven Souders and Nicholas Zakas are on the front lines on sites like Google and Yahoo. They understand high traffic sites and have the research and experience to make your site more efficient which makes High Performance Web Sites, Even Faster Web Sites and High Performance JavaScript the must have books on the subject.

      Finally, Designing with Progressive Enhancement written by the Filament Group who are leading the way in UI and user experience. They are the group that is at the forefront of jQuery UI and what they say about user experience and providing fallback to older browsers using techniques like Progressive Enhancement is why this is an essential book.

      I hope this helped. You obviously don’t have to buy every book but I would feel confident in the recommendations in the books Rey listed here would have the content you’ll need to gain the knowledge you require.

      Ralph Whitbeck

      PS. Both Rey and I are cohosts on the Official jQuery Podcast and we’ve interviewed many of these authors for the books that we list on episodes on our show.

      • Fair enough on both comments. I do think you maybe misinterpreted the tone of my comments to mean that I do not value learning. Being mostly self-taught, I FULLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE of constant learning. However, as a web developer, I do not only use Javascript.

        If I only produced modules for JQuery, then I could definitely see the value in owning dozens of JavaScript books. However, I also must use and know (and by that I mean know the ins and outs) of not only JS, but ASP.NET, IIS, MVC, Sql Server, Access, Design Patterns, NUnit, TDD, BDD, and the list goes on and on. Because of this, I could not possibly afford to buy 12 books on each of those subjects – let alone read them. Maybe I’m a special case but I suspect there are other developers out there in a similar boat.

        And BTW, I know that nowhere have you told us to go buy 12 books on every subject that we touch. But based on your reply, and the list of books in the article, are you really suggesting that I need to read that many books for every subject I use daily in order to be a professional (on top of reading blogs, other persons code, and doing actual work)? I am one that is all for challenges – I LOVE challenges. However, sorting through the immense amount of information available is what I (and i suspect many others) have trouble with on a daily basis. What would be valuable, again maybe this is just for me, would be guidance as to what information out there is truly essential (and trust me – i wouldnt stop there but I could then choose the remaining bits and pieces after i learn the real essentials). I am sure each of those books does offer some information that the others dont – including a different perspective on possibly the same situation – but I highly doubt each of those is Essential.

        Thank you very much for your reply and any continued guidance and your blog in general. Maybe someday, I can find time to do the same (assuming I have time left over since it is now “essential” that I read the roughly 40 books listed in the post :) ). Haha (just being sarcastic but I do truly thank you for your input and feedback).

        • hehe I know you’re being sarcastic and that’s ok. I may be a special case but I genuinely like to read. And yes, I do recommend every one of these books because I’ve found something useful in each one. As for the costs, yes it can be quite expensive but to me it’s just part of being a professional web developer. You have to invest in yourself. It’s not something that I think is trivial as these books can be insanely expensive but again, I personally feel it’s worth it to me.

          While I only listed JS, HTML, & CSS books, that’s solely because I’m very focused on client-side development. When I was much more into the server-side, I had an incredible library with books on ColdFusion, architecture, scalability, metrics, etc. To be honest, the number of books I listed in this post is only a small fraction of the books I rely on. I’ve just found the ones listed to be invaluable to me.

          I just got a new book from my manager, Scott Hanselman, on ASP.NET 4 which is massive but it’s on my priority list because I want to learn how to build ASP.NET web apps. Again, just part of the constant need to stay on top of things. You just have to make the time. :)

          Good luck and thanks for reading my blog.

    • I think you’re very mistaken. You should look at the books and see that many are very new and some are revised into 2nd or 3rd editions.

    • umm, jQuery wasn’t even around in 2005, so you ought to check the publication dates again on at least the jQuery books.

  3. This list is very good, and I have read most of these books, but it must be said that this stuff is mostly UI related technologies, while most of the stuff I build is database driven, so I would also recommend a few good SQL books. Also, some COM+ Enterprise Services, C#, and architecture books might be useful if you ever expect to make more than 50 dollars an hour. Just a thought.

  4. Hey Rey! Great list.As Ralph mentioned there were a few missing here but I would +1 on Resig’s Secrets of The JavaScript Ninja. It’s an excellent piece of reference material (and Manning have a pre-release available) :)

    Enlightenment, Novice to Ninja etc are of course also recommended reading for those serious about upping their jQuery skills.

    • Hey Addy. Yeah John’s book will be awesome but it’s not published yet so I’m waiting until he finalizes it. I have the MEAP as well but I prefer to post finished books. :)

  5. Hey Rey,
    Any intentions of including ASP.NET Ajax books on your list ? If not, could you recommend me at least a couple ?

    Thanks and great list by the way.

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