The Perl Book Buying Guide

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* Background
* The Book Buying Guide
* The Book List - Overview
* The Book List - Detailed View (long)
* The Book List - by Category

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I am a big proponent of buying Perl books. There are a couple of reasons for this:
  1. there are a lot of Perl books of very high quality
  2. most of the authors (of the very high quality books) are contributors to the Perl community, and this is a way for them to get paid for all of the free work they do
  3. it's a great way to learn Perl, especially if you don't have someone to teach you

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!

The Book Buying Guide

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.]




The Book List - Overview

(Sorted by Rating and Title -- click on Title for more in-depth review!)
Effective Perl ProgrammingJoseph N. HallAddison-Wesley Pub Co1998 xx     
Perl CookbookTom Christiansen & Nathan TorkingtonO'Reilly & Associates1998xxx     
Programming PerlLarry Wall, Tom Christiansen & Randal L. SchwartzO'Reilly & Associates1996xxx     
Mastering Regular ExpressionsJeffrey E. Friedl & Andy OramO'Reilly & Associates1997xxx    ½
Perl FAQTom Christiansen and Nathan TorkingtonCPANcurrentxxx    ½
Learning PerlRandal L. Schwartz & Tom ChristiansenO'Reilly & Associates1997x      
Learning Perl on Win32 SystemsRandal L. Schwartz, Erik Olson & Tom ChristiansenO'Reilly & Associates1997x      
Perl in a NutshellEllen Siever, Stephen Spainhour & Nathan PatwardhanO'Reilly & Associates1999xxx    
Win32 Perl ProgrammingDave RothMacmillan Technical Publishing1999xxx    
Advanced Perl ProgrammingSriram SrinivasanO'Reilly & Associates1997  x   ½
Perl man pages(too many to list)CPANcurrentxxx   ½
Perl Resource Kit - Win32 EditionDick Hardt, Erik Olson, David Futato & Brian JepsonO'Reilly & Associates1998xx    ½
Learning Perl/TkNancy WalshO'Reilly & Associates1999x     
Perl 5 Pocket ReferenceJohan VromansO'Reilly & Associates1998xxx   
Perl Resource Kit - Unix EditionLarry Wall, Nate Patwardhan, Ellen Siever, David Futato & Brian JepsonO'Reilly & Associates1997xx    
MacPerlVicki Brown & Chris NandorPrime Time Freeware1998   UNRATED
Official Gide to Programming with Cgi.pmLincoln SteinJohn Wiley & Sons1998xxxUNRATED
Perl/Tk Pocket ReferenceStephen LidieO'Reilly & Associates1998xxxUNRATED
Audience: B: Beginner, I: Intermediate, A: Advanced
Rating Scale: = = Not Recommended,      = = Excellent!

The Book List - by Category


Mac Perl Programming




Web/CGI Programming

Win32 Perl Programming

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All book covers, products, product names and company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
Copyright © Joseph L. Casadonte Jr. 1998-2000. All rights reserved.
The Perl Book Buying Guide / 31 December 2000 /

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