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10 Best C# Books For Beginners & Beyond (Spring 2023)

An overview of the current best C# books for programmers at different levels from beginners to experts.

Compared to C++ (C plus plus) and other fairly popular programming languages, C# (C sharp) is a much easier option to learn and is ideal for creating simple windows software and backend web development. This makes it a great beginner programming language, although it could also prove useful for developers with a little more programming experience. Ultimately, if you’re looking to learn the language, a list of the best C# books on the market, like the one below, may come in handy.

The information in these books makes it easier for app developers at different proficiency levels to learn the essentials and all there is to know about the programming language. This includes building apps and websites, writing functions, debugging, integrating databases, etc. Some features we looked at in making the list include the available versions, topics, how much information is provided, etc.

Name Nomination Overall rating

1. C# 8.0 and .NET Core 3.0

A great up-to-date beginners book for anyone with prior programming knowledge

Editor’s Choice 9.9

2. Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly)

An excellent read for experienced programmers to further their skills in developing C# based cloud, web, and desktop applications

Best for Experienced Programmers 9.8

3. Head First C#

A beginner-friendly C# programming book with helpful visuals to help you build games in Unity

Best Visual Approach 9.6

4. C# 8.0 Pocket Reference

A quick reference book for experienced C# programmers working on different types of projects

Best In a Nutshell


5. Murach’s C# 2015

A self-paced read to help beginners learn the ‘how tos’ of C# programming

Best ‘How To’ Guide 9.3

6. C# in Depth

A 528 read on the evolution of C# from C# 2 to C# 7. There’s also an audiobook available, making it fairly unique.

Best Encloses Evolution of C# 9.0

7. The C# Player’s Guide

The C# Player’s Guide takes a casual approach to briefly covering every topic you might encounter in your C# programming journey

Best Casual Tone 8.9

8. Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019

Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019 offers a hands-on approach for beginners looking to proficiently build games with C#

Best for Game Developers 8.8

9. Pro C# 7: With .NET and .NET Core

A fairly long book that provides tons of value for intermediate-level C# developers

Best Theoretical Coverage 8.7

10. Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C#

A great read for those looking for a little more flexibility in how they approach C# programming to achieve varied results

Best Agile Appliances in the .NET Framework 8.5

Detailed Product Reviews


  • Author name: J. Price
  • Level of proficiency: both beginners and C# and .NET programmers, but with a programming background
  • Applications: websites and services, cross-platform apps
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing
  • Latest Edition: 6th edition
  • No of Pages: 818 pages

The C# 8.0 and .Net Core 3.0 is our Editor’s Choice for the best C# books. It is an 818-page C# programming book in its 6th edition. Given that the 6th edition was only released recently in 2022, it covers some of the new features of C# 10 and the fairly new .NET 6 framework. By the end of the read, buyers should be able to build cross-platform apps, including websites, write, test, and even debug functions, query and manipulate data, etc. Notably, while it is a beginner-friendly book, readers need at least a basic understanding of programming to benefit from it.

The C# 8.0 and .Net Core 3.0 and our best casual tone pick, the C# Players Guide, are the only two options that cover the latest versions of the C# programming language and .NET framework. However, in addition to having differences in tone, the C# 8.0 and .Net Core 3.0 can also be used by more advanced programmers, while the best casual tone pick is strictly for beginners.

What we liked

  • Covers newer features that come with.NET 6 and C# 10;
  • Content is easy to follow;
  • Readers get practical examples to try out;
  • Includes instructions for using IDEs like Visual Studio 2022;
  • Organized enough for a beginner in C# coding to follow.

What could be better

  • The book lacks some depth and may not be as useful for pros who’ve kept up to date with recent changes in C# programming.


  • Author name: Ian Griffiths
  • Level of proficiency: experienced programmers
  • Applications: cloud, web, and desktop
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Latest Edition: 1st edition
  • No of Pages: 797 pages

With the Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly), you get the fundamentals and techniques you’d need to build cloud, desktop, and web applications as laid out by author Ian Griffiths. The book is still in its first edition and can guide you through C# 8.0 and almost everything else that came before it. It also includes knowledge of asynchronous streams, pattern matching, new indexing syntax, and even some of the recent changes in the .NET toolchain. By the time you’ve finished this book, some of the coding skills at your fingertips may include writing high-performance, memory-efficient code, querying and processing diverse data sources, etc.

The Programming C# 8.0 from O’Reilly Media shares some similarities with the C# in Depth Pick, especially regarding the information included. You can learn about C sharp-based cloud, web, and desktop apps with both. However, they’re meant for different markets with C# in Depth better suited for intermediate programmers, while Programming C# 8.0 will work for people with a little more C# experience.  

What we liked:

  • Fairly in-depth and detailed;
  • Provides many code examples to work with;
  • Available in Kindle eBook and paperback editions;
  • Provides loads of information on essential .NET libraries;
  • The book is authored by a C# instructor, and it shows.

What could be better:

  • The amount of detail can make it seem full of fillers for some;
  • Too complicated for beginners.


  • Author name: Andrew Stellman
  • Level of proficiency: beginners
  • Application: 3D games in Unity and query data with LINQ
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Latest Edition: 4th edition
  • No of Pages: 800 pages

Like its predecessor on the list, the Head First C# book also covers C# 8.0. However, it’s more of a beginner’s book than the Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly), with imagery to help you learn C sharp coding along the way. In fact, it’s one of the best books to learn C# for beginners, although you still need some prior experience in coding to get most of the concepts included. The author makes an effort to make the read as interesting as possible while also imparting information on how to build 3D games in Unity. You’ll also learn how to query data with LINQ.

Both the Head First C# and Programming C# 8.0 are published by O’Reilly Media. However, the similarities end there. While Programming C# 8.0 may focus on teaching some of the more complex concepts in C# programming, the Head First C# book takes a simpler approach. Readers learn simpler concepts with additional visuals to make learning more interesting.

What we liked:

  • Fun to read;
  • Includes visual aides to help you better understand what you’re supposed to do;
  • Easy to follow along;
  • Fairly effective in teaching how to build 3D games in Unity;
  • Available in paperback and Kindle.

What could be better:

  • There are many errors and typos;
  • The paperback version is printed in black and white, which can make some of the visuals, e.g., graphs, harder to figure out.


  • Author name: Joseph Albahari
  • Level of proficiency: experienced programmers
  • Application: reffernce book
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Latest Edition: 1st edition
  • No of Pages: 246 pages

Although it’s from a different author, the C# 8.0 Pocket Reference is from the same publisher as our second and third picks on the list. It’s a 246-page book making it the smallest option on the list. However, what qualifies it for the best C# books list is its practicality. It’s easy to browse and should be great as a reference book if you’re looking for something you can take with you on vacation or while traveling. Unfortunately, there’s currently no kindle option, so interested readers will have to go for the paperback option.  

Despite both the C# 8.0 Pocket Reference and Programming C# 8.0 being from O’Reilly Media and written for experienced programmers, they take vastly different approaches to how they impart information. The information in the Pocket Reference, as implied by the name, is a lot more compressed, making it easier to carry. Conversely, with the Programming C# 8.0 option, you get much more in-depth information.  

  • Its compact size makes it an easy read;
  • It makes for great reference material;
  • Great for experienced programmers;
  • Fairly affordable;
  • Doesn’t take up much space in your bags during travel.

What could be better:

  • Currently, there are no available hardcover or Kindle eBook options.


  • Author name: Joel Murach
  • Level of proficiency: beginners
  • Application: Windows Forms
  • Publisher: Mike Murach & Associates
  • Latest Edition: 7th edition
  • No of Pages: 816 pages

Murach’s C# 2015 may be a few years old but is still quite relevant to date. Currently in its seventh edition, it has helped many would-be programmers get acquainted with C# since 2004. The fact that it teaches the C sharp essentials makes it one of the best books on C# for beginners. Some areas it focuses on include teaching readers how to use visual studio. There are also .Net classes on developing Windows Forms applications, and you could learn a lot about creating professional database applications.

Murach’s C# 2015 is easily comparable to the C# Players Guide since they’re both meant for beginners. However, where the Players Guide takes a casual tone to explaining the different C# concepts, Murach’s C# is much more formal. As such, picking either may depend on which approach you think is best for your learning process.

What we liked:

  • Great for beginners;
  • It’s self-paced;
  • Teaches most of the necessary skills for developing C#-based apps;
  • Fairly comprehensive;
  • Relatively recent release.

What could be better:

  • Doesn’t cover C# 10 and .NET 6.


  • Author name: Jon Skeet
  • Level of proficiency: intermediate
  • Application: big data, cloud-centric web development, and cross-platform software
  • Publisher: Manning
  • Latest Edition: 4th edition
  • No of Pages: 528 pages

The C# in Depth is one of the best objective C sharp books for intermediate coders. It can help you achieve proficiency in big data, web development, and cross-platform. It particularly pays attention to C# 6 and 7, although there are some details about C# 2-5 as well. In addition to the kindle and paperback versions, you can also get it as an audiobook that lasts 17 hours and five minutes. As such, if you find that reading text is just not your cup of tea, you can opt for this book instead. Nevertheless, you need to be fairly proficient in C# before getting it.

Both the C# in Depth and our best theoretical coverage pick, the Pro C# with .NET and .NET Core, give details about various versions of C# 7. They’re also both suited for intermediate C# programmers. That said, if you also want details of the previous versions of the C# language, this book is likely well suited to your needs. Conversely, if you want coverage of .NET 4.7, the Pro C# with .NET and .NET Core is a better pick.

What we liked:

  • Great for people looking to improve their C# programming skills;
  • It is available as an audiobook;
  • Teaches important information about C# 2-7;
  • Can help achieve proficiency in building cross-platform apps;
  • There are also kindle and paperback versions.

What could be better:

  • Hard to understand for those not already proficient in C#.


  • Author name: RB Whitaker
  • Level of proficiency: beginners
  • Application: briefly covers every topic
  • Publisher: Starbound Software
  • Latest Edition: 5th edition
  • No of Pages: 495 pages

The C# Players Guide is the only other option listed, apart from the 6th edition C# 8.0 and .Net Core 3.0 that covers C# 10 and .NET 6. However, unlike the Editor’s Choice, which might work for more experienced programmers, this book is only written for beginners. One of the major perks is it contains over 100 C# programming challenges that should help get anyone up to speed through hands-on learning. The book also provides in-depth information on C# statements, methods, variables, loops, etc. Unfortunately, the only version available is the paperback variant.

As mentioned above, the C# Players Guide can be compared to the Editor’s Choice, as they both cover the latest C# updates. However, they take different approaches to teaching. If you prefer hands-on challenges while learning, the Players Guide book may be just what you’re looking for. Nevertheless, the Editor’s Choice is still a great option for other programmers not well versed in C#.

What we liked:

  • Includes information about C#10 and .NET6;
  • Great for beginners;
  • Included programming challenges help give hands-on lessons;
  • Includes information on Visual Studio 2022;
  • Tons of online support.

What could be better:

  • Only a paperback version is available;
  • The visuals are too small for some reader’s tastes.


  • Author name: Harrison Ferrone
  • Level of proficiency: beginners
  • Application: game development
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing
  • Latest Edition: 4th edition
  • No of Pages: 342 pages

Another beginner-friendly book on C# is Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019. As implied by the title, it can be one of the best resources if you’re trying to learn C# code to build games. Authored by Harrison Ferrone, it has 342 pages long and should help you learn scripting and customizing 3D games. This is in addition to exploring different game elements such as game interactions, mechanics, and game UIs. Other topics covered by the book include programming fundamentals, Unity 2019, etc. Notably, it’s one of the more affordable Kindle C# books, although it’s also available as a paperback.

If you’re interested in learning game development using C#, either the Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019 or the Head First C# book listed above may come in handy. One major difference between the two is in how the information is presented. Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019 is ideal for read/write learners, while its counterpart works for visual learners.

What we liked:

  • Great for beginners looking to build games;
  • You can buy a used version for cheap;
  • Looks into Unity 2019 and how to use it to get great results in your apps;
  • While it’s great for beginners, it even explores some intermediate programming topics;
  • Teaches even game mechanics.

What could be better:

  • With the release of Unity 2022.1, there are some features you may not learn about in the book.


  • Author name: Andrew Troelsen
  • Level of proficiency: intermediate
  • Application: ASP.NET Core MVC, ASP.NET Core web services, and Entity Framework Core
  • Publisher: Apress
  • Latest Edition: 8th edition
  • No of Pages: 1437 pages

While there’s a newer version, namely the Pro C# 10: With .NET 6, the Pro C# 7: With .NET and .NET Core still provides tons of value for intermediates in the C# programming space. Inside the 1437-page turner, you’ll find in-depth theoretical coverage of C# 7.1 and .NET 4.7, which are part and parcel of the newer C# 10 and .NET 6. Furthermore, the authors aim to give readers a solid foundation in the fundamentals of C sharp coding, such as attributes and reflection, object-oriented development, generics, etc.

Both the Pro C# 7: With .NET and .NET Core and Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# are great options for the intermediate programmer. However, they focus on different areas. The Pro C# 7 is a theoretical book on C# 7 and .NET 4.7, while its counterpart looks to impart agile appliances of C# in the .NET framework, among other key concepts.

What we liked:

  • Covers a wide range of topics;
  • Provides a basis to understand the newer version of the book;
  • Lessons can be used in a wide range of applications;
  • Looks into the philosophy of the .NET and .NET Core platforms;
  • There’s coverage of Visual Studio 2017, which makes later versions easier to understand.

What could be better:

  • Doesn’t cover later versions of C# and the .NET platforms;
  • Not easy for beginners to understand.


  • Author name: Robert Martin, Micah Martin
  • Level of proficiency: intermediate
  • Application: Agile development and Agile design
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Latest Edition: 1st edition
  • No of Pages: 768 pages

Given that it focuses on agile principles and extreme programming, the Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# first edition is for intermediate developers to take their skills to the next level. One of the authors, Robert Martin, has also authored one of the best C++ books on the market: Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices. As such, he’s well versed in what programmers need to know in the different programming languages. In this book, you’ll also learn pair programming, object-oriented design, test-driven design, types of UML diagrams, how to put together the different components for a programming project, etc.

Compared to other listed books for intermediates like the C# in Depth, the Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# first edition is broader. Where the C# in Depth looks to help programmers learn how to build big data, cross-platform, and web apps, this option looks to teach principles, patterns, and practices that can be used in various situations.

What we liked:

  • It is available in Kindle, Hardcover, and paperback variants;
  • Covers a wide array of topics;
  • The authors have a great background in programming;
  • With the hardcover option, you can buy a used version for cheap;
  • It is great for those who have a base in C sharp programming.

What could be better:

  • It is a little too difficult for novices to understand;
  • The book is fairly dated.

Things to Consider

Even with the best C# books listed above, picking the right one isn’t as easy as choosing the one whose title appeals most to you. There are several things to consider that may determine whether the book is useful for your needs or not. That said, most of these books could be beneficial in one way or another in different stages of your C sharp programming journey. As such, you might benefit from getting all of them.

However, since you can only read one book at a time, we’ve formulated a buying guide to help you choose.

What is C#?

According to Microsoft, C# or C sharp is an object-oriented, type-safe programming language that allows programmers to develop apps that run on the .NET platform. It was launched by Microsoft in 2001. Several improvements and extra features have been added over the years, with the latest version being 2021’s C# 10. C#10 is only supported on the .NET 6 framework and newer versions. Of course, previous versions of the C# also worked with previous versions of the .NET framework, including .NET Core 2.0 and .NET Core 3.0, for C# 7.0 and C# 8.0, respectively.

Features of C#

Coursera notes that some features of C# include support for strong and implicit variable typing, language interoperability with other .NET languages, and automatic garbage collection. Notably, with automatic garbage collection, you won’t have to worry about managing memory or even dealing with stale objects. As for some of the other .NET compatible languages include F#, VB.NET, and C++.

How to Learn C#

Most of the people who learn the C# programming language have some sort of background in computer science. After all, according to the University of Maryland, knowing how to program is an essential element of studying computer science. However, you don’t need to pursue computer science to learn C#.

You can attend a short C# course in a programming school near you. Alternatively, you can enroll or sign up for an online course. If you don’t have the funds, there are tons of free resources online. You can even find someone teaching C# programming on YouTube. The problem with these kinds of resources is they’re often unstructured, which can lead to confusion.

Another option is to get books like the ones listed above. With options like Murach’s C# 2015, you can even learn C sharp at your own pace.

How to Choose the Best C# Books

If you’re going to choose the best C# programming books for your needs, below are the key things to look into before deciding on the specific purchase.

Level of Proficiency

First, you need to know your proficiency level, as different C# books are written for different types of audiences. Some explain simple beginner concepts in a way that even people with little programming experience can understand, while others require a wealth of base knowledge to make heads or tails of. Fortunately, there are books for different proficiency levels on our list, so you shouldn’t have any problems deciding. Overall, proficiency levels are as highlighted below.


Beginner C# programming books come in different variations. There are those like the Head First C# book that are written for people with little to no prior knowledge of C# programming. You can see that in the attempt by the author to keep things as simple and interesting as possible. Buyers even get visuals that should help make things easier to understand. 

On the other hand, the C# 8.0 and .Net Core 3.0, is a different kind of beginner’s book. While it does teach some beginner concepts, it’s mostly suited to people with prior programming knowledge. It works well for people who were familiar with C sharp but, for some reason, aren’t up to date with changes and developments in the language. 

The book should help you get up to speed on anything you may have missed and improve your overall understanding of C# programming. 


Intermediate-level books for learning C# also come in different variations. However, they all require that readers have more than a little practice with C# programming. They can help improve your skills so you can take on more complex projects. Something like the Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices, for instance, can help familiarize you with a wide range of C# programming skills for an even wider range of projects. 


Experts may also need help remembering some details. After all, C# and the .NET framework are wide topics, and it could be tricky for someone to remember everything. That’s why one of the more popular C# programming books for the experts and experienced, the C# 8.0 Pocket Reference is a reference book. You can quickly check a minor detail that helps you with the completion of your project. 


In addition to matching the book with your proficiency level, you also want to ensure it matches up with the types of apps you’re trying to build. Some of the common options include:

Game Dev

Python, Java, Javascript, and C++ are some of the most popular programming languages used in building games. That said, C# is also among them and is particularly useful in video game scripting. Additionally, C sharp is Unity 3D’s default language, and as a gaming engine, Unity 3D has been used to develop some of the more popular mobile games on the market. Examples include Temple Run and Pokemon Go.

If you’re learning C# to build something similar, you may want to buy a programming book that caters to that particular need. Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019, for instance, is perfect for game development. 

Mobile Apps

If you’re interested in building mobile apps, there’s also a C# programming book for that. Some platforms like Xamarin allow users to build cross-platform mobile apps using C# and . NET. This is in addition to the Unity platform that can help build mobile games.  

Desktop Apps

As for desktop apps, a book like Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly) is uniquely suited to teaching you how to build them using C sharp. However, it also includes information on other programming topics that might be useful to you down the line. 

Web Services

In the same way, the Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly) works for desktop apps, it also works for anyone looking to build web services.

Neural Networks

Neural Networks allow computer programs to simulate the behavior of the human brain. This allows them to recognize patterns or solve problems in AI, deep learning, or machine learning. Visual Studio Magazine notes that backpropagation is one of the most common algorithms for training neural networks, and you can implement it in C#.

Of course, this is one of the more advanced topics when you’re learning C#, so beginner books are unlikely to cover it in depth. You might be better suited by expert-level books that focus on building neural networks with C#.

Graphics for Metaverses

Despite the Metaverse being fairly new in the programming landscape, it’s compatible with C#. This is thanks to its compatibility with the Unity engine, which allows virtual reality applications. There may not be as many books focused specifically on the Metaverse, but if you can learn about Unity and C# from books like Head First C#, you may be able to navigate building apps for the Metaverse.


Why learn C#?

As a programming language, C# has multiple upsides, including a gentle learning curve, allows for object-oriented programming, is scalable, and even offers faster development times. Also, it can be used in various use cases, including game development, web development, and desktop apps. Ultimately, it’s one of the more versatile programming languages with multiple uses.

What should you know before learning C#?

While C# is not very complicated compared to some of the other programming languages, it might still take some effort to get fully acquainted with it. You’ll also need to make a time commitment. That said, its versatility makes it worth learning.  

Are the best C# books of the same quality as textbooks in C# training courses?

Both options provide you with useful information on C# programming. However, they may go about it in different ways. The best C# books can be an enormous resource even if you already have textbooks on the subject matter. They might even cover some topics that textbook writers miss out on.

Our Verdict

Our top three C# book recommendations include the C# 8.0 and .NET Core 3.0, Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly), and Head First C#. One of the reasons the C# 8.0 and .NET Core 3.0 made it to the top of the list is its coverage of the latest updates to C#. It’s also beginner friendly.

Coming in second is the Programming C# 8.0 (O’Reilly), a book for more experienced programmers. It’s a fairly comprehensive edition for those looking to improve their skills in several areas, such as pattern matching and asynchronous streams.

As for the Head First C#, what makes it suitable for our list of best C# books is its approach to explaining concepts. The fact that it includes visuals to make it easier to understand should definitely be a welcome surprise for some buyers.