Book Review – Python Crash Course (2nd Edition)

Python Crash Course (2nd Edition)

This has been a long time coming. I first started reaching this book back in July 2019, then it sat on my bookshelf for awhile. Life happens, and part of that included starting a different Python book as part of the book club at work, so I put PCC to the back burner.

Overall, this is certainly a book that I am going to keep handy as a reference guide. I have many dog-eared pages and highlights from my first pass through the book, but I do not work with Python daily. The way these examples in each chapter are laid out should prove as a great resource to jog my memory when I turn back to them. I have the physical book, but I would recommend anyone considering this to opt for an electronic version (nostarch provides PDF, mobi, and ePub). This will allow for easier searching for exactly what you need.

I don’t see myself as needing to create video games (one of the example projects) with any regularity, but there are several ideas floating around in my head for projects where Python may be able to help. Of course, I feel like I know just enough to think I have a solution, only to be faced by endless error messages.

To give you an idea of the content in the book, here is the “Brief Contents” listing:

  • Part I: Basics
    • Getting Started
    • Variables and Simple Data Types
    • Introducing Lists
    • Working with Lists
    • if Statements
    • Dictionaries
    • User Input and While Loops
    • Functions
    • Classes
    • Files and Exceptions
    • Testing your Code
  • Part II: Projects
    • Alien Invasion
    • Data Visualization
    • Web Applications

As I have said before, I would consider myself very new to Python, and I really enjoyed the way the “Basics” chapters were laid out. Each chapter works through the objective (e.g. “Working with Lists”) by starting with the high-level concepts, then moving into more and more detail, with plenty of examples along the way.

I found it helpful to follow along with the examples in each chapter. I used the Sublime text editor, as described in the first chapter, but any text editor will do. I find it helpful to use a text editor that supports the color formatting for each language – this provides an easy way to spot where your syntax may be off.

Book Example 10-4 Solution

I found this quote on the book’s resource page, and thought it was a perfect way to describe the book:

One of the guiding questions for Python Crash Course is, “What’s the least you need to know in order to start working on interesting projects?” That’s what has helped this book bring people with no programming background to the point where they can understand how to build a meaningful game, make interesting visualizations, and deploy a functioning web app, without it becoming a 1500-page doorstop.

However, once you’ve understood the material in Python Crash Course, there’s a lot more that you’re ready to learn. I may write a followup book at some point, but I’ve also been wanting to write up a series of articles for people who have wanted a little more detail after reading through the book.

Eric Matthes

Useful Links

Full disclosure, No Starch did provide a free copy of the book, but did not offer this in exchange for any favorable feedback. The idea is to get information out to the industry, including updates needed to any books.

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