Wanted: a better C++ book

I first taught myself C++ back in 1993 – using Borland’s Turbo C++: a great product I had lots of fun with.

Photo of Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the pro...
Photo of Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the programming language C++. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After that I moved on Microsoft’s Visual C++ (it was their unilateral cancellation of my subscription that marked a key stage in my disillusionment with Redmond).

In those days C++ was simple – people talked about templates and namespaces but nobody actually used them.

So, when in 2009/10 when I was being taught C++ at Birkbeck I didn’t really pay enough attention – I thought I knew the language but I didn’t.

After that course was over I made a real effort to teach myself C++ properly and wrote some not too bad code. But then Groovy came along and nobody was much interested in my VMUFAT file driver for the Linux kernel and so both C++ and C got neglected.

Now C is like bike riding – if you haven’t done it for a while you are a bit unsteady at first but soon get the hang of it. But C++ is different and now I back to writing in both idioms I miss having a good C++ guide book.

I do have C++: The Complete Reference (4th Edition) but, in my view, this is one of the worst computer books ever written – as it simply reads like a book about C with some bolt-ons.

I also have Computing Concepts with C++ Essentials: but it’s a book about how to program, not a good reference.

What I want is something that tells me how to do things and use things without either drowning me in formal references or treating me like a newcomer.

What is the best option – is The C++ Programming Language still the best? I used to have a copy of that from 20 years ago (perhaps I still have it somewhere in the house) and it was quite good but obviously that edition has long since been superseded.

Any recommendations gratefully received in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Wanted: a better C++ book

  1. The current (4th) edition of C++PL is a good heavy-duty reference book, but wouldn’t be a good choice to learn the language. For a good comprehensive C++ tutorial, the best current choice is probably “C++ Primer” (5th ed) by Lippman, Lajoie, and Moo. (Definitely not to be confused with the similarly titled “C++ Primer Plus”, a very different and vastly inferior book.)

    You might be better off, though, with Stroustrup’s “A Tour of C++”. This is a short, very dense book; it’s definitely not for beginners, but I would recommend it as a good crash course in C++ for someone who is already an experienced programmer in other languages but new (or just rusty) in C++.

    For a reference (rather than learning) resource, besides C++PL 4E, I’d also recommend “The C++ Standard Library” (2nd ed) by Josuttis.

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