How I learned more in 3 months rather than 4 years

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

C and C++ are, despite their age, some of the most used programming languages across the globe and are among the first ones taught in schools and universities. If you are taking a programming course right now, there are big chances you are struggling to learn one of these 2 languages.

I first started studying C++ (actually, it was mostly C, with just a few elements of C++) when I went into high school. Back then, I found this programming language quite confusing and difficult. After 4 years of studying it through high school, I still wasn’t understanding it very well. I don’t know if it was because of my teacher’s inability to deliver us the right ideas or because of my laziness, or perhaps a combination of both…

But the idea is that after I completed my high school studies, I still wasn’t confident in my programming skills although I had quite good grades. Now I wanted to go to University to study Computer Science, but I was a little afraid… I still understand neither C nor C++; many things confused me about these languages.

So, what I was thinking? With about 3–4 months before starting my first undergraduate year, I decided to search for some good books on C and C++, and relearn them from scratch, all by myself and the books, without any teacher to guide me.

And I came across these 2 books: C Primer Plus and C++ Primer Plus, both of them by the same author, Stephen Prata who is a professor of physics and astronomy at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California, where, in addition to astronomy and physics, he teaches computer programming and discrete mathematics.

I didn’t let the number of pages of these books scary me (over 1000 each), and I just started learning from C Primer Plus, and within about 3 months I finished it, and by that time I was feeling that in these 3 months I understood C way better than through the 4 years of high school.

I’m glad I made this choice. And don’t judge the book’s difficulty by its big number of pages. The fact that this book is big is actually a good thing, especially if you’re learning from it alone because these pages contain detailed explanations that help you understand easier the subject compared to a book that may be more compact but lacks good and detailed explanations.

Reading this book and doing (almost) all the exercises from it, gave me a good advantage when I started college. And that’s because this book goes beyond the basics that are taught in most high schools in my country, and it explains some extra stuff and some subtleties of this language that made me be above what college professors expect from first-year students to know.

Then, in the second semester, when I had to learn about Object-Oriented Programming in C++, I found the right opportunity to use C++ Primer Plus as a supplementary learning material, which boosted my outcomes and helped me get the maximum grade in that course.

And beyond the utility of these books as learning materials, I can say something that I wouldn’t think I will say about a programming book before: I really enjoyed these books. I liked the author’s style of explaining things and his voice that makes you curious and wanting to learn more.

These books made me fall in love with programming and perhaps they will make you too. Below are links at which you can buy these books, they are available both in Kindle and paperback format:

I hope you found this information useful and thanks for reading!

This article is also posted on Medium here. Feel free to have a look!


Passionate about Data Science, AI, Programming & Math

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