Geek Alert: CSS book reviews

As many of you know, I’m an aspiring mega geek. I’m pretty nerdy by most standards, having taught myself 99% of what I know how to do with computers, I share a keyboard and mouse between two Macs via terminal commands, I check my RSS before breakfast and I’d rather read books about code than the latest NY Times Bestsellers any day… So on the subject of books, I thought I’d share what my current favourites are. Mind you, these won’t appeal to anyone looking for adventure heros or romance, but if you’re looking for the thrill of Internet Explorer hacks, humorous exploration of child selector implementation, and why you should embrace “The Alsett Clearing Method”- then this is just the coffee time curl up book list for you.

My newest addition: Stylin’ with CSS: A Designer’s Guide by Charles Wyke-Smith
It’s a lovely colour book printed on posh paper covering subjects spanning the basics of XHTML and CSS structure to much more advanced topics such as Multi-level Drop Down Menus and forms creation. I love the abbreviation used throughout the book: IDWIMIE, It Doesn’t Work In Microsoft Internet Explorer. The book fills in several gaps I’ve had in my learning process, where I’ve ‘learned’ how to do something quickly without understanding the fundamentals behind the code. This book is not only an easy and enjoyable read, it’s intelligent, attractive and informative for both the beginner and the experienced CSS writer looking for a lightweight reference for important tasks and workarounds. 275 handsome pages of CSS bliss.

One of two faithful standbys: The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks by Rachel Andrew (for Sitepoint)
This 391 page book is always on my desk. It’s somewhat clunky in it’s presentation, but the information is golden. Written to assist experienced CSS code writers, the book only flirts with the basics briefly in the beginning. Had I purchased this book after Stylin’ with CSS, I would’ve no doubt felt more comfortable with the bland textbook feel of it, but overall, the information is relatively easy to understand if you read each section start to finish. This book could’ve been well served with more white space and an injection of colour here and there, even if just a spot colour or two, but perhaps it’s that I am able to better comprehend reference material that way. I used to work for a sign company and then much later for a major print company for 6 years, so looking at the legibility of print is a hard habit to break… 🙂 A pretty good book for those looking to beat CSS into submission.

And second of the faithful standbys: Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide by Eric A. Meyer (for O’Reilly)
O’Reilly is renowned for it’s authoritative book collection covering all disciplines of the geek black arts, and this one is clearly thrusting it’s chest feathers out announcing itself as the leader in CSS guides. It certainly doesn’t disappoint and manages to, despite smaller text and less prominent illustrations, teach CSS without seeming torturous. Don’t get me wrong, when the room temperature is cozy and I’ve been staring at my monitor too long, I’ve been known to fall asleep reading O’Reilly books, but I think that’s just the nature of reference/text books. It’s perhaps the most intimidating of all the books I’ve mentioned, but O’Reilly takes pride in it’s geek library dominance- and not for anything short of being some of the most imformed books available. Eric Meyer is a rockstar of web development like Scott Kelby is to Photoshop and covers just about anything you need to know in his 507 page CSS epic. Also devoid of colour, it could be easier to chew on visually, but it somehow manages to be easier to dip in and out of when you need a quick answer than the Sitepoint book.

These three books are ‘must-haves’ here and have all helped me sharpen my skills and problem solve immeasurable amounts of code. Now that I’ve waxed poetic about them… I have some code to write. 🙂


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2 thoughts on “Geek Alert: CSS book reviews”

  1. Yeah, ok, you were born geeky Rob. 😉 lol
    True, lots of info is available on the web and the W3C sites (among others) are really helpful too, but as far as books I like to keep on my desk, those are the three. 🙂 (oh- and Color Index by Jim Krause)
    Perhaps I’m still a tad old school- I like books… 😉


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