The Best C# Books For Beginner Developers: Top 6 Picks

There’s no doubt that reading can be beneficial for helping improve your skills, and software engineering is no different. For dotnet developers, trying to find the right resources can be challenging, and finding the best C# books for beginner developers is no different. While I’m a firm believer in building projects as one of the best ways to improve as a software engineer, I think many people benefit from reading books on software engineering as well.

In this article, I aim to highlight books for C# developers with a couple of consistent measures:

  • Target Level:
    • From 1 to 5
    • 1=Beginner
    • 5=Advanced
  • Breadth of Topics:
    • From 1 to 5
    • 1=Very narrow
    • 2=Very wide
  • Popularity:
    • From 1 to 5
    • 1=Not received well by developer community
    • 2=Positive reviews

Now this won’t be an exact science by any means — and the reality is any book on this list is going to be a helpful read. But my goal here is to help you, a beginner C# developer, sift through the best C# books to help you grow.

Please note that this page has affiliate links to the books listed in the post. My intention is not to be misleading so I’d like to be very transparent about that before getting into the content!

What’s In This Article: The Best C# Books For Beginner Developers

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Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step (Developer Reference)

Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step (Developer Reference)
  • Target Level: 2 Beginner/Intermediate
  • Breadth of Topics: 3 (Moderate, covering core concepts with diagrams and exercises)​
  • Popularity: 4 (Highly recommended for its detailed and clear explanations)
  • Author: John Sharp
  • Amazon Link:

Microsoft Visual C# Step by Step is a comprehensive guide for those new to Visual C# and Visual Studio, aimed at expanding the reader’s programming expertise. It’s particularly useful for individuals with some programming background but new to Visual C#.

The book covers essential topics in a clear and detailed manner, providing practical guidance and hands-on coding exercises. It emphasizes understanding the C# object model, managing errors and exceptions, and mastering the fundamentals of object-oriented programming.

This guide is well-received for its ability to simplify complex concepts and offer a balanced approach to learning C#

Pro C# 10 with .NET 6: Foundational Principles and Practices in Programming

Pro C# 10 with .NET 6: Foundational Principles and Practices in Programming
  • Target Level: 4 Intermediate/Advanced
  • Breadth of Topics: 5 (Extensive, covering .NET Core, .NET API, Entity Framework, WPF, etc.)​
  • Popularity: 4 (Well-regarded for its depth and pace)
  • Authors: Philip Japikse, Andrew Troelsen
  • Amazon Link:

Pro C# 10 with .NET 6: Foundational Principles and Practices in Programming by Andrew Troelsen and Philip Japikse is an essential guide for intermediate to advanced C# developers. It offers comprehensive coverage of the C# 10 and dotnet 6 features. Even not having the latest C# and framework version covered can still be helpful, but this is one of the challenges all books face — They need new revisions.

The book has thorough coverage of topics like ASP.NET Core, Entity Framework Core, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and more. It’s now a classic in the field! It’s appreciated for its solid foundation in object-oriented development techniques and advanced topics, making it a valuable resource for deepening knowledge of the C# programming language and its frameworks

C# 12 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference

C# 12 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference
  • Target Level: 4 Intermediate/Advanced
  • Breadth of Topics: 5 (Comprehensive, covering advanced topics such as LINQ, concurrency, asynchrony, and parallel programming)​
  • Popularity: 5 (Highly popular and considered a definitive resource)
  • Author: Joseph Albahari
  • Amazon Link:

C# 12 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference is a highly regarded resource for intermediate to advanced programmers looking to deepen their understanding of C# and .NET. Authored by Joseph Albahari, this book has clear and concise explanations that delve directly into the subject matter. Forget the unnecessary intros or overly complex examples. It’s structured to offer a comprehensive coverage of C# and the Common Language Runtime (CLR), along with the core .NET libraries.

One of the standout features of this edition is its coverage advanced topics. These include pointers, closures, and patterns, ensuring a thorough understanding of these complex areas of C#. In addition, the book dedicates considerable attention to LINQ, with multiple chapters exploring this topic in depth. This is a testament to the book’s commitment to covering both foundational and advanced aspects of C#.

The guide also addresses other significant areas such as concurrency and asynchrony, advanced threading, and parallel programming. It also covers into .NET features like regular expressions, networking, assemblies, spans, cryptography, and reflection.emit, making it an all-encompassing reference for C# developers.

This book continues the tradition of O’Reilly’s Nutshell guides, known for their comprehensive (yet still surprisingly accessible) approach to technical subjects. It’s a great option for you if you’re aiming to expand your knowledge and expertise in C# and .NET. While it may be aimed at a slightly more advanced audience, it would be good to pick up and build up to, in my opinion.

Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well

Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well
  • Target Level: 1 Beginner
  • Breadth of Topics: 2 (Focused on basic concepts and simple steps for beginners)​
  • Popularity: 4 (Recommended for beginners, good content but more basic in nature)
  • Author: Jamie Chan
  • Amazon Link:

Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well: C# for Beginners with Hands-on Project” by Jamie Chan is tailored for beginners in programming and specifically those interested in learning C#. The book simplifies complex concepts into manageable steps for easy understanding, even for those who have never coded before.

It uses carefully chosen examples to illustrate concepts clearly, ensuring that even readers without access to a computer can grasp the ideas. This type of approach can be extremely valuable if you’re struggling to grasp basic C# concepts from other books. It’s important to find a solid foundation you can dive into! Topics are selectively covered to provide a broad overview of C#, including object-oriented programming, error handling, and file handling, without overwhelming the reader with too much information.

The book emphasizes a practical approach to learning, featuring a hands-on project at the end that integrates all the concepts learned. This project is designed to provide a sense of accomplishment and demonstrate the practical application of the topics covered. And for me, this kind of thing really resonates because I find I learn best by doing!

Concurrency in C# Cookbook

Concurrency in C# Cookbook
  • Target Level: 3 Intermediate
  • Breadth of Topics: 2 (Focused on parallel and async programming)​
  • Popularity: 3 (Good reference for specific topics, not as broad in appeal)
  • Author: Stephen Cleary
  • Amazon Link:

Concurrency in C# Cookbook” by Stephen Cleary is a highly regarded resource for developers looking to enhance their skills in concurrent and multithreaded programming in C#. The book is particularly praised for its practical approach, offering over 85 code-rich recipes that demonstrate parallel processing and asynchronous programming techniques using .NET and C# 8.0.

One of the key strengths of the book is its clarity in explaining complex concepts. It begins by distinguishing between different concurrency types like multithreading, parallel processing, and asynchronous programming, helping readers avoid common misconceptions. The book emphasizes that asynchronous programming is more about responsiveness and scalability than speed. Realistically – most people mix up all of these terms and use them interchangeably so it’s a good opportunity to get the groundwork figured out.

Each chapter introduces a concept followed by a list of “recipes”. It covers important topics like async/parallel programming, DataFlows, and Rx (System.Reactive), providing a well-rounded approach to concurrent programming in C#. The detailed solutions are aimed at simplifying concurrency, which has traditionally been a challenging area for many developers — Especially more junior ones!

C# 12 and .NET 8 – Modern Cross-Platform Development Fundamentals

C# 12 and .NET 8 – Modern Cross-Platform Development Fundamentals
  • Target Level: 2-3 Beginner/Intermediate​
  • Breadth of Topics: 4 (Covers core C# concepts and cross-platform development, a specialized but important area)​
  • Popularity: 4 (Popular for its focus on modern development practices and cross-platform capabilities)
  • Author: Mark J Price
  • Amazon Link:

This book is an absolute monster from Mark Price! “C# 12 and .NET 8 – Modern Cross-Platform Development Fundamentals” is filled with hands-on code examples that cover nearly every aspect of the language. I’ve been programming in C# for 15+ years and even for me this is an excellent resource to catch up on some of the language features as it has evolved.

There are many reasons this book is one of the best C# books for beginner developers — over 850 of them! Countless hands-on fully-explained code examples can be found to help guide beginner developers.

What I like about this book is the breadth of coverage of the language features but it also ties into some ASP.NET core web development. I find most C# developers that I speak to are interested in web development in some capacity. If you’re just looking to get coverage on the language, this book is great. But if you’re looking to build some of your first ASP.NET core websites, then this is also a great beginner ASP.NET core book.

Dev Leader 3 Best C# Books

From three to one, I’ll share with you my top picks from this list:

Third Place: Best Book to Learn C# Coming From Another Language

My pick for this is C# 12 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference. The book’s higher price point makes it a bit higher of a barrier to entry. It also talks about some more advanced topics but in a simple way — It’s highlighting language features but they might not make sense unless you have experience coding.

Given that this has a slightly more advanced audience level it takes a small hit — but the price point reflects the immense amount of value that the author provides on learning C#. This is very well deserving of being on the list of best C# books for beginner developers — but it assumes some programming knowledge.

Runner Up: Best Book for Quickly Learning C#

In my opinion, Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well is the best book for quickly learning C# on this list. Being able to cover the basics as well as having a hands-on project I think is a critical way to reinforce learning. Directly applying what you just learned is very valuable as it helps solidify the theory about what you read.

The Best C# Book For Beginner Developers

And my vote for the number one best book for C# developers that are getting started:

C# 12 and .NET 8 – Modern Cross-Platform Development Fundamentals

C# 12 and .NET 8 – Modern Cross-Platform Development Fundamentals

This book by Mark Price takes the number one spot on my list of best C# books for beginner developers. The price is very fair and the breadth of topics covered means that you won’t go super deep on any of them to make it too complicated.

Having such broad coverage of language features is incredibly valuable as a reference. However, Mark also branches off into ASP.NET core web development. So if you’re a beginner C# developer and looking to learn ASP.NET core as well… this one is a no-brainer!

I’d like to note that while the publishing company PACKT has provided me with a free copy and giveaway copies of this book, they have in no way paid for me to have this in spot number 1. I truly think the coverage of language features helps seal that position.

Wrapping Up The Best C# Books For Beginner Developers

This is my list of the best books for C# developers that are just getting started. While I think that the best thing you can do to improve as a software engineer is to build real software, I think there’s a time and a place for books.

At this point in my career, I think I would benefit most from being exposed to advanced topics. As a beginner, I think broad exposure to language features is helpful but seeing it in action is critical. For any of these books with code examples, I highly recommend you take the time to copy the code, run it, modify it, run it again… Play with the different things that you can build because it will help reinforce your understanding.

What are your recommendations for books for beginner C# developers?

Frequently Asked Questions: The Best C# Books For Beginner Developers

Which book is best for beginners to start learning C#?

Learn C# in One Day and Learn It Well” is highly recommended for absolute beginners in C#.

What’s a good C# book for understanding the fundamentals of .NET?

Pro C# 10 with .NET 6: Foundational Principles and Practices in Programming” covers extensive .NET concepts, even if it’s not the latest language and framework version.

Is there a detailed reference book for C# 12?

C# 12 in a Nutshell: The Definitive Reference” is considered an excellent resource for detailed study.

Which C# book can help me quickly understand concurrency?

Concurrency in C# Cookbook” is great for learning parallel and async programming in C#.

author avatar
Nick Cosentino Principal Software Engineering Manager
Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft. Views are my own.

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