Did I need to read a fifteen hundred page book to learn Python?
At the end of fourteen hundred pages, I can safely assure you, I did not.
If you want to just solve your pressing issues or scratch your itch, or just plain get started with programming (and programming in Python specifically), I’d recommend starting with a simple, fast paced book, like Python for you and me, and then doing tons of practice.1
Mark Lutz, as he closes the book, himself laments that Python has gotten too big to hold in your head. And by doing so, has lost some of the simplicity and the joy and fun and the magic, Python held for the early adopters of the language.
And yet, having said all this, boy, am I glad, I read the book.
This is a master class from a master.
I may not have understood everything. I may have skimmed a chapter or two (Lutz assures me, it’s ok :P), but what this book has done to my mind, the furrows it has ploughed, will be with me forever.
I have been trying to get into the book, multiple times since I bought it.
It took me a long time, before, as Mortimer Adler puts it, I could come to terms with the author.
The only reason I kept coming back, was because, Mark’s earnest teaching voice shines through, and I loved it, even if I did not quite get what he was saying in the beginning.
And the reason I could get through it (and enjoy it) this time, because I decided to follow his advice and follow along on the computer.
To actually type in the code, and see what happens.
Yes, the book is big, yes, the concepts are repeated a couple of times, but as I progressed, I could feel him sweating the small stuff over and over, just so that I could understand things, so that I would not get scared away.
Time and again, the book reassured me, that what was said, was not as complicated or hard as it read on the page.
And that turned out to be true as I kept trying the examples out.
While I still have a long way to go, before I can remotely be called fluent, I know this book will have a been a big reason, I will be.2
This book was last updated, oh, some six years ago, and yet unless Python decides to change radically, I dare say, the principles in here will stand the test of time.
This was a great read and will serve as an awesome reference on my Python journey.
If you are slightly kooky like me, and you want to know, why things are the way they are as you learn to program in Python, get this book.