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C++ Reading List

, May 28, 2013 The new C++11 standard has led to a flood of new books and updates to classics. These are the core books you need.
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C++ Primer, 5th Edition

by Stanley Lippman, Josée Lajoie, and Barbara Moo

For many years, the C++ Primer has been the definitive tutorial to C++. This edition has been updated for the C++11 standard and completely rewritten. At 900 densely packed pages, it explores in great detail every nook and cranny of the language. This is perhaps an understatement. The tone and contents of the book are far removed from what the word "primer" in the title would imply. There is no section for "coming up to speed quickly" on the language. Rather, there is an almost indefatigable quality to the text as it makes sure to cover every aspect of the language and to foresee the possible problems a C++ programmer might encounter. Ever wonder what havoc would be caused by marking a destructor as a C++11 "deleted function"? Nor have I. But it's answered in detail in this book with references to other sections for additional supporting information.

The book covers only the language, as such. There are passing discussions of the library and an appendix that summarizes the various header files and algorithms in the library. (For an excellent presentation on the C++ library, I recommend the excellent The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference, which is discussed next). Between the two books, it's fair to say, almost anything you'd want to know about C++ is explained thoroughly. While Stroustrup's C++ Programming Language, 4th Ed., reviewed earlier, appears to be a competitor to this volume, Stroustrup's tome is primarily a reference book with explanations and occasional counsel, whereas this volume is much more pragmatic. It discusses problems that occur if you use features incorrectly, contains a lot more code, and in general, offers far more guidance than the Stroustrup book.

My only hesitation about this book is that it's clearly designed for readers who already know the basics of the language. I would not recommend this book to students or even experienced programmers getting into C++ for the first time. The level of detail is too great to read fast enough to become productive quickly in the language. But for existing C++ developers, especially those wanting to use the new features in C++11, this book is an excellent choice.

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