Way back when, there was only one Perl book, Programming Perl (aka "The Camel Book") by Larry Wall and Randal Schwartz. It satisfied the above conditions and was the One True Book. Then along came Learning Perl (aka "The Llama Book") by Randal Schwartz. It too met the above criteria, and life was good. It was easy to recommend books then; there were only two (one a reference and one a tutorial) and they were both great!
As Perl became more and more popular, more books came out. For every good one there seemed to be a so-so book, and even one that, now and again, really stunk. And it wasn't as obvious anymore, which books to buy. Generally speaking, if you stuck to O'Reilly & Associates books, you were OK. But I found one or two from ORA that I didn't think were worth the money, and I've found several excellent Perl books published by other companies. And so the simple became complicated.
Within the past six months or so, I have been inundated with requests for book recommendations. I thought about it a lot, and decided to give this a try. Let me know what you think!
There's an awful lot of Perl books out there, most good, some not-so-good, and not all of them are needed by everyone. Some books are more geared towards general reference, some towards specific applications. Almost all of them are appropriate for different experience levels. Knowing which is which is important. If you're on a limited budget, then choosing the right book is very important. Because of this, I give you the following guidelines for buying Perl books, broken out by Perl experience level.
On the Top Shelf are the books that I recommend buying first. These are the books that you'll get the most out of for the given level of Perl programming experience. I strongly recommend these books! They will do more to help further your Perl experience and enjoyment than any others.
The Second Shelf contains more books that I think should be in every programmer's arsenal. Whereas the books on the Top Shelf are books that I feel you must have, the books on the Second Shelf are books I feel you should have. They still represent the best of the books available; I just realize, though, that not everyone has the budget (personally or professionaly) to buy every good book that comes along, so I make the distinction to help you get the most for your money.
The Cross-Reference section has the books that will help you to graduate to the next level of Perl. These are the transitional books which, when you start to understand the concepts in them, cause you to say "ah-ha!" and "oh yeah..." enough times that people around you start to look at you funny. Finally, the Back Shelf books are the ones that complete the collection. These books are good to have for the given level of Perl experience, but not necessary. But they're still good books.
[Please take the time to follow the links and read what I have to say about the books. It will help you decide if the given book is right for you, despite my having recommended it.]
|Effective Perl Programming||Joseph N. Hall||Addison-Wesley Pub Co||1998||x||x|
|Perl Cookbook||Tom Christiansen & Nathan Torkington||O'Reilly & Associates||1998||x||x||x|
|Programming Perl||Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen & Randal L. Schwartz||O'Reilly & Associates||1996||x||x||x|
|Mastering Regular Expressions||Jeffrey E. Friedl & Andy Oram||O'Reilly & Associates||1997||x||x||x||½|
|Perl FAQ||Tom Christiansen and Nathan Torkington||CPAN||current||x||x||x||½|
|Learning Perl||Randal L. Schwartz & Tom Christiansen||O'Reilly & Associates||1997||x|
|Learning Perl on Win32 Systems||Randal L. Schwartz, Erik Olson & Tom Christiansen||O'Reilly & Associates||1997||x|
|Perl in a Nutshell||Ellen Siever, Stephen Spainhour & Nathan Patwardhan||O'Reilly & Associates||1999||x||x||x|
|Win32 Perl Programming||Dave Roth||Macmillan Technical Publishing||1999||x||x||x|
|Advanced Perl Programming||Sriram Srinivasan||O'Reilly & Associates||1997||x||½|
|Perl man pages||(too many to list)||CPAN||current||x||x||x||½|
|Perl Resource Kit - Win32 Edition||Dick Hardt, Erik Olson, David Futato & Brian Jepson||O'Reilly & Associates||1998||x||x||½|
|Learning Perl/Tk||Nancy Walsh||O'Reilly & Associates||1999||x|
|Perl 5 Pocket Reference||Johan Vromans||O'Reilly & Associates||1998||x||x||x|
|Perl Resource Kit - Unix Edition||Larry Wall, Nate Patwardhan, Ellen Siever, David Futato & Brian Jepson||O'Reilly & Associates||1997||x||x|
|MacPerl||Vicki Brown & Chris Nandor||Prime Time Freeware||1998||UNRATED|
|Official Gide to Programming with Cgi.pm||Lincoln Stein||John Wiley & Sons||1998||x||x||x||UNRATED|
|Perl/Tk Pocket Reference||Stephen Lidie||O'Reilly & Associates||1998||x||x||x||UNRATED|