Free Programming Books

15 Excellent Free Books to Learn C

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:

Free Programming Books
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PythonGeneral-purpose, structured, powerful language
C++General-purpose, portable, free-form, multi-paradigm language
C#Combines the power and flexibility of C++ with the simplicity of Visual Basic
JavaScriptInterpreted, prototype-based, scripting language
PHPPHP has been at the helm of the web for many years
HTMLHyperText Markup Language
SQLAccess and manipulate data held in a relational database management system
RubyGeneral purpose, scripting, structured, flexible, fully object-oriented language
AssemblyAs close to writing machine code without writing in pure hexadecimal
SwiftPowerful and intuitive general-purpose programming language
GroovyPowerful, optionally typed and dynamic language
GoCompiled, statically typed programming language
PascalImperative and procedural language designed in the late 1960s
PerlHigh-level, general-purpose, interpreted, scripting, dynamic language
RDe facto standard among statisticians and data analysts
COBOLCommon Business-Oriented Language
ScalaModern, object-functional, multi-paradigm, Java-based language
FortranThe first high-level language, using the first compiler
ScratchVisual programming language designed for 8-16 year-old children
LuaDesigned as an embeddable scripting language
LogoDialect of Lisp that features interactivity, modularity, extensibility
RustIdeal for systems, embedded, and other performance critical code
LispUnique features - excellent to study programming constructs
AdaALGOL-like programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages
HaskellStandardized, general-purpose, polymorphically, statically typed language
SchemeA general-purpose, functional language descended from Lisp and Algol
PrologA general purpose, declarative, logic programming language
ForthImperative stack-based programming language
ClojureDialect of the Lisp programming language
JuliaHigh-level, high-performance language for technical computing
AwkVersatile language designed for pattern scanning and processing language
CoffeeScriptTranscompiles into JavaScript inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell
BASICBeginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
ErlangGeneral-purpose, concurrent, declarative, functional language
VimLPowerful scripting language of the Vim editor
OCamlThe main implementation of the Caml language
ECMAScriptBest known as the language embedded in web browsers
BashShell and command language; popular both as a shell and a scripting language
LaTeXProfessional document preparation system and document markup language
TeXMarkup and programming language - create professional quality typeset text
ArduinoInexpensive, flexible, open source microcontroller platform
TypeScriptStrict syntactical superset of JavaScript adding optional static typing
ElixirRelatively new functional language running on the Erlang virtual machine
F#Uses functional, imperative, and object-oriented programming methods
TclDynamic language based on concepts of Lisp, C, and Unix shells
FactorDynamic stack-based programming language
EiffelObject-oriented language designed by Bertrand Meyer
AgdaDependently typed functional language based on intuitionistic Type Theory
IconWide variety of features for processing and presenting symbolic data
XMLRules for defining semantic tags describing structure ad meaning
ValaObject-oriented language, syntactically similar to C#
Standard MLGeneral-purpose functional language characterized as "Lisp with types"
DGeneral-purpose systems programming language with a C-like syntax
DartClient-optimized language for fast apps on multiple platforms
MarkdownPlain text formatting syntax designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write
KotlinMore modern version of Java
Objective-CObject-oriented language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to C
PureScriptSmall strongly, statically typed language compiling to JavaScript
ClojureScriptCompiler for Clojure that targets JavaScript
VHDLHardware description language used in electronic design automation
JArray programming language based primarily on APL
LabVIEWDesigned to enable domain experts to build power systems quickly
PostScriptInterpreted, stack-based and Turing complete language
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DylanMulti-paradigm language supporting functional and object-oriented coding
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