Programming Books

15 Excellent Free Books to Learn C

Last Updated on June 14, 2023

10. Essential C by Nick Parlante

Essential CThis Stanford CS Education is a fairly brief document which explains all the common features and techniques for C. The coverage is pretty quick, so it is targeted at a programmer with a background in another language.

Topics include variables, int types, floating point types, promotion, truncation, operators, control structures (if, while, for), functions, value parameters, reference parameters, structs, pointers, arrays, the pre-processor, and the standard C library functions.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction.
  • Basic Types and Operators.
  • Control Structures.
  • Complex Data Types.
  • Functions.
  • Odds and Ends.
  • Advanced Arrays and Pointers.
  • Operators and Standard Library Reference.

The author’s description indicates this book is issued under an open-source like license.

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11. Beej’s Guide to C Programming by Brian “Beej” Hall

Beej's Guide to C ProgrammingBeej’s Guide to C Programming tries to lead the reader from complete and utter sheer lost confusion on to the sort of enlightened bliss that can only be obtained though pure C programming.


  • Programming Building Blocks.
  • Variables, Expressions, and Statements – A variable is simply a name for a number. An expression in C consists of other expressions optionally put together with operators. Examines the if, while, do-while, and the for statements.
  • Building Blocks Revisited.
  • Functions – put some of those building blocks in their own functions when they become too large, or when they do a different thing than the rest of the code.
  • Variables, the Sequel – talks about variable scope and storage classes.
  • Pointers – they are the address of data. Just like an int can be 12, a pointer can be the address of data.
  • Structures – a construct that allows you to logically group variables into groups. You can then reference the group as a whole.
  • Arrays – a linear collection of related data.
  • Strings – a string in C is a sequence of bytes in memory that usually contains a bunch of letters.
  • Dynamic Memory – explores the malloc(), free(), realloc(), and calloc() functions.
  • More Stuff – topics include pointer arithmetic, typedef, enum, struct declarations, command line arguments, multidimensional arrays, casting and promotion, incomplete types, void pointers, NULL pointers, and static keywords.
  • Standard I/O Library – used for reading from and writing to files.
  • String Manipulation – find functions for pulling substrings out of strings, concatenating strings together, getting the length of a string, and more.
  • Mathematics – functions that will serve your general purpose mathematical needs.

This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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12. Modern C by Jens Gustedt

Modern CModern C seeks to motivate the reader to climb to higher levels of knowledge.

It is organized in chapters called “Levels” that summarize levels of familiarity with the C language and programming in general. Some features of the language are presented in parts on earlier levels, and elaborated in later one

The book is divided into five levels.

  • First level – provides the reader with the very basics of C programs, their purpose, their structure, and how to use them.
  • Second level – details most principal concepts and features such as control structures, data types, operators and functions. It aims to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of the things that are going on with running programs.
  • Third level – goes to the heart of the C language. It fully explains pointers, familiarizes you with C’s memory model, and allows you to understand most of C’s library interface.
  • Fourth level – goes into detail in specific topics, such as performance, reentrancy, atomicity, threads and type generic programming.
  • Fifth level – discusses the author’s ideas for a future development of C.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International” license.

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Next page: Page 5 – Beej’s Guide to Network Programming and more books

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – The C Book and more books
Page 2 – An Introduction to C & GUI Programming and more books
Page 3 – The GNU C Reference Manual and more books
Page 4 – Essential C and more books
Page 5 – Beej’s Guide to Network Programming and more books

All books in this series:

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AwkVersatile language designed for pattern scanning and processing language
BashShell and command language; popular both as a shell and a scripting language
BASICBeginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
CGeneral-purpose, procedural, portable, high-level language
C++General-purpose, portable, free-form, multi-paradigm language
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ClojureDialect of the Lisp programming language
ClojureScriptCompiler for Clojure that targets JavaScript
COBOLCommon Business-Oriented Language
CoffeeScriptTranscompiles into JavaScript inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell
CoqDependently typed language similar to Agda, Idris, F* and others
CrystalGeneral-purpose, concurrent, multi-paradigm, object-oriented language
CSSCSS (Cascading Style Sheets) specifies a web page’s appearance
DGeneral-purpose systems programming language with a C-like syntax
DartClient-optimized language for fast apps on multiple platforms
DylanMulti-paradigm language supporting functional and object-oriented coding
ECMAScriptBest known as the language embedded in web browsers
EiffelObject-oriented language designed by Bertrand Meyer
ElixirRelatively new functional language running on the Erlang virtual machine
ErlangGeneral-purpose, concurrent, declarative, functional language
F#Uses functional, imperative, and object-oriented programming methods
FactorDynamic stack-based programming language
ForthImperative stack-based programming language
FortranThe first high-level language, using the first compiler
GoCompiled, statically typed programming language
GroovyPowerful, optionally typed and dynamic language
HaskellStandardized, general-purpose, polymorphically, statically typed language
HTMLHyperText Markup Language
IconWide variety of features for processing and presenting symbolic data
JArray programming language based primarily on APL
JavaGeneral-purpose, concurrent, class-based, object-oriented, high-level language
JavaScriptInterpreted, prototype-based, scripting language
JuliaHigh-level, high-performance language for technical computing
KotlinMore modern version of Java
LabVIEWDesigned to enable domain experts to build power systems quickly
LaTeXProfessional document preparation system and document markup language
LispUnique features - excellent to study programming constructs
LogoDialect of Lisp that features interactivity, modularity, extensibility
LuaDesigned as an embeddable scripting language
MarkdownPlain text formatting syntax designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write
Objective-CObject-oriented language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to C
OCamlThe main implementation of the Caml language
PascalImperative and procedural language designed in the late 1960s
PerlHigh-level, general-purpose, interpreted, scripting, dynamic language
PHPPHP has been at the helm of the web for many years
PostScriptInterpreted, stack-based and Turing complete language
PrologA general purpose, declarative, logic programming language
PureScriptSmall strongly, statically typed language compiling to JavaScript
PythonGeneral-purpose, structured, powerful language
QMLHierarchical declarative language for user interface layout - JSON-like syntax
RDe facto standard among statisticians and data analysts
RacketGeneral-purpose, object-oriented, multi-paradigm, functional language
RakuMember of the Perl family of programming languages
RubyGeneral purpose, scripting, structured, flexible, fully object-oriented language
RustIdeal for systems, embedded, and other performance critical code
ScalaModern, object-functional, multi-paradigm, Java-based language
SchemeA general-purpose, functional language descended from Lisp and Algol
ScratchVisual programming language designed for 8-16 year-old children
SQLAccess and manipulate data held in a relational database management system
Standard MLGeneral-purpose functional language characterized as "Lisp with types"
SwiftPowerful and intuitive general-purpose programming language
TclDynamic language based on concepts of Lisp, C, and Unix shells
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TypeScriptStrict syntactical superset of JavaScript adding optional static typing
ValaObject-oriented language, syntactically similar to C#
VHDLHardware description language used in electronic design automation
VimLPowerful scripting language of the Vim editor
XMLRules for defining semantic tags describing structure ad meaning
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