[AstroPy] Python Books for Beginners?

Eric Jensen ejensen1@swarthmore....
Fri Feb 5 13:15:15 CST 2010


Hi Kelle et al.,

I'm just in the position of starting to learn Python myself and have  
wondered the same thing, on behalf of my students, so I'm glad to see  
this thread.  I realize that my own needs are different from those of  
someone who has never programmed before (the first language is the  
hardest to learn!).

One of the first books I ordered was "Learning Python", which Rick  
Wagner suggested in an earlier message.  I had had the first edition  
in my lab for a long time, but I thought it would be good to update to  
the new edition.

Trying to take into account the difference between a new programmer  
learning Python, and me coming from having used Perl and IDL for a  
long time, I still wonder whether "Learning Python" is the best bet.   
One thing to note is that it's *huge* - 1200+ pages.  (In contrast,  
the first edition is about 300 pages.)  So in my view, it's unlikely a  
new programmer is going to work his/her way through a significant  
fraction of it.  And even given that size, it's still not really a  
reference book - as just one example of something I checked, regular  
expressions are given about two sentences of text (basically just to  
say "these exist, read more elsewhere").

Thus, I wonder whether something more compact (though I don't know  
which book specifically) might be useful for someone to get started,  
and then something like "Python in a Nutshell" to have in the lab as a  
reference.

Just my thoughts - I look forward to hearing what others think.

Eric



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