4 minutes reading time (827 words)

Learn Python Quickly: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Learning Python, Even If You’re New to Programming

Thank you CodeQuickly for sending us this book to review!

Learn Python Quickly: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Learning Python, Even If You’re New to Programming is designed to be a fast read and teaching tool, clocking in at about 150 pages. The book has twelve chapters and an index of references used in it. It covers a wide range of programming concepts, from variables to classes and everything in between. Each chapter has a varying amount of subsections, which discuss different elements of the topic. The very last chapter contains two projects to complete as a test for everything the reader learned in the book.

Learn Python Quickly is generally well-written and well-edited, and speaks in layman’s terms. As I am a beginner in the world of programming, I found this incredibly useful. However, it does lapse into technical terminology every once in a while, and I would get lost in the fancy programming vocabulary that I didn’t know very much about.

There are also a few typos that I noticed throughout the course of the book, but they were things like font changes at the wrong spot and other minor issues. One sentence I remember in particular didn’t make much grammatical sense to me, causing me to reread it a few times, and I was only left with a vague impression of its meaning. Another sentence had an apparent switch of what words were supposed to be in what places. Both versions made grammatical sense, but it was in the context of the content in which the words were in the wrong.

I also had my misgivings about the structure of the chapters. The first ten chapters were short, and were straight to the point. However, when I got to chapter eleven, I was slightly daunted and annoyed that the author decided to shove all of the non-beginner concepts into a singular chapter. The entirety of said chapter amassed a whopping forty pages. After a while, I was mentally spent on that chapter, and read through it rather than trying some of the examples because of how tedious it was. The twelfth chapter was the project chapter. It was approximately twenty pages, and in my opinion could have been split into two chapters.

The book does highly value self-experimentation and creative thinking, by encouraging the reader to try to solve the problem themselves before showing them the answer (or “a possible solution,” as it is often put). However, some of the goals set seem a little far off, considering the user had just learned the concepts. Learn Python Quickly also has assignments at the end of many of the chapters, to encourage the application of the various ideas so that they can get a better idea of how they are used.

Unfortunately, there are some examples of code that are erroneous, as the syntax is implied to be different from what it actually is in Python. One example was where a break in the text was forced because the page ran out of space, but a function that was supposed to be on the same line of code as the string it was affecting was on the next line, implying that the function was supposed to be on the next line. There are also a few instances where functions called don’t actually work with the variable they’re manipulating, which I found kind of annoying, considering that at one point the bad code was trying to demonstrate a concept. The code for the final project was compiled into one archive of the program at the end of the chapter, and it was incomplete and couldn’t work as a result. There were calling mistakes in the code, as it was trying to call a variable that only existed within a user-created function.

Overall, Learn Python Quickly is okay as a learning resource, and I would advise it as more of a dictionary of concepts than anything else. It’s a quick and easy read, but not all of the code works, which defeats much of the purpose of attempting to teach how a programming language works. If anyone were to pick up this book and try to learn from it, I would suggest it for an intermediate programmer because some of the nuances of Python are blocked by the spacing of the actual code, and are not something that a beginner would immediately know. An intermediate would also have an easier time with some of the challenges, because many of them stumped me, a beginner.

There is a lot this author did right when creating this book for the general audience, but there is also a lot that needs to be improved. It’s a great start, but a fully reevaluated set of code in a new edition of some sort is definitely in order.

- Kittycathead

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