6/21/09 “Beginning” does not mean “absolute novice”

I now have it in my head that a book with “Beginning” in its title does not mean “Starting out as a complete novice.” It simply means the start of something. Often, books with this word in its title assume the reader has prior knowledge in something else, whether C++, Cocoa, or Basket Weaving 101. From the appropriate foundation mentioned in the book, you can THEN “begin” this new phase in your learning experience.

So it’s very important that you read the book reviews on Amazon.com before buying a how-to book on programming. Go ahead and read the 5-star reviews. Even better, read the 2-star reviews, for that’s where you’ll find the disgruntled customers complaining that they thought the title meant it was for absolute novices. I bought Beginning iPhone Development knowing it wasn’t for novices. (I’m saving it for later.) Reading the 2-star reviews can give you clues as to which books they thought were better for novices. Then look up those books and read their reviews to see if the book is right for you.

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