10 RoR Books You Must Have on Your Bookshelf

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Updated Mar 14, 2024 • 8 min read

Take a look at your bookshelf. Are there any Ruby on Rails books? Read on and update your book shopping list, there's so much more than just blogs and StackOverflow!

Take a look at your bookshelf, or a pile of books on your floor, or any other place you store the books in - we hope you have one! Are there any Ruby on Rails titles? If the answer is “yes” - check out our top 10 list to see if you’ve collected all the RoR developer’s must-haves. In case your answer is “no”... Oh, please, we can’t believe it! Read on and make your book shopping list to actually read more than just blogs and StackOverflow.

Why should web developers read Ruby on Rails books?

Web development moves forward at lightning speed, so you might think Ruby on Rails books would be outdated in a matter of months. However, if you want to stay keen and make visible progress in development - reading books for developers is a must.

Good programming books don't explain how, as techniques can change, but why, which allows you a deeper understanding of core principles. A clever way of explaining coding issues makes books timeless. Finding something worth reading is not easy, as there are many titles that will only collect dust in your place - or occupy space on your hard drive - but those worth reading will stay with you for a really long time. These books convey in-depth, insightful and universal knowledge.

Still not convinced? Take a look at the words of a master. Here’s what Steve McConnell explains in his Code Complete:

"Pat yourself on the back for reading this book. You're already learning more than most people in the software industry because one book is more than most programmers reach each year (DeMarco and Lister, 1999). A little reading goes a long way towards professional advancement. If you read even one good programming book every two months, roughly 35 pages per week, you'll soon have a firm grasp on the industry and distinguish yourself from nearly everyone around you."

The following 10 RoR books are an invaluable addition to your Ruby on Rails resources.

Top 10 Ruby on Rails books

1. Eloquent Ruby

Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen is based on a tutorial formula, with each chapter titled like a guideline. Every point is explained and supported with examples. This book is perfect for any Ruby on Rails developer at the intermediate level who doesn't feel like they have yet reached a master status. You can buy Eloquent Ruby at Amazon.

2. Clean Ruby

Clean Ruby by Jim Gay teaches you to keep your code manageable and prevent you from writing a single messy line. The more code you add for enhanced features, the more time you have to spend reviewing and understanding what is added. This wastes a lot of time, and, after all, time is money. Clean Ruby streamlines the process. It is laid out in a tutorial style designed for intermediate-level developers. You can buy the book directly from the author.

3. The Well-Grounded Rubyist

The Well-Grounded Rubyist by David A. Black is a well-written tutorial that takes you from a novice dabbling in Ruby to a proficient programmer. The book begins with the basics of getting your first Ruby program on its feet and gradually builds up to more sophisticated topics. You can find this easy-to-follow Ruby book on Amazon.

4. Ruby Science

Ruby Science by Joe Ferris, Harlow Ward and Thoughtbot is the perfect training tool for beginners. If you love writing applications, then this book is the reference guide you need. In addition to the book, you also get a complete example application. When you buy the book from GitHub, you get direct access to the repository.

5. Confident Ruby

Confident Ruby by Avdi Grimm couldn't have a more appropriate name. The book gives intermediate developers confidence. Through step-by-step guidance, you learn how to think about methods in terms of the whole picture instead of small code chunks you might find lying around. Get your copy at Confident Ruby website, with a video and a bonus book, or stop by Amazon.

6. Agile Web Development with Rails 4

Written by Sam Ruby, this is the perfect beginner book. The book is also up-to-date on changes and new best practices, so be sure you buy the latest version. Get your copy from the Pragmatic Bookshelf.

7. Learn Ruby the Hard Way

This is a simple, yet idiomatic introduction to the world of thinking in code. Designed for beginners, the Zed Shaw’s book takes you through the different phases of Ruby development with plenty of practice exercises. Get it at Amazon.

8. Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby

This Ruby book introduces developers to the Ruby language. It is written by Why the Lucky Stiff (Jonathan Gillette) as a tutorial with plenty of humor mixed in to make it not simply educational, but fun to read. Grab your copy at the Wikipedia Store.

9. Refactoring Ruby Edition

This book, written by Jay Fields, Shane Harvey and Martin Fowler (with Kent Beck), is perfect for more experienced developers who are comfortable with Ruby than Java. It exposes many of the issues you may encounter with a dynamic language. Buy your copy from the authors or visit the good old Amazon.

10. Everyday Rails Testing with RSpec

This book includes updated coverage for RSpec 3 and Rails 4.1. Written by Aaron Sumner, it is designed for experienced developers and written in an easy-to-follow format with plenty of practical examples. Buy your copy or get free updates to copies you already own at Leanpub.

We hope you’ve found a few titles to fill your bookshelves with. Progress needs constant learning, and this is what you’ll get from reading your daily dose of pages filled with invaluable knowledge.

Also, if you feel like joining the Netguru Ruby on Rails developers’ team - we're hiring Ruby on Rails developers at the moment! You can apply and find more info about working with us on the Career page. If you’re just getting started, it’s OK - join our free Ruby on Rails workshop and have a good start with Ruby on Rails.

We don't want to keep you away from your books, but online Ruby tutorials are a great self-learning opportunity. This post lists our favorites, take a look!


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