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Learn Python the Torturous Way
on 24 March 2017
I have mixed feelings on this book.
On the one hand, the author's insistence for you to take your time, complete every drill, and strictly avoid copy/paste for each exercise really does pay off. If the lesson on practice and persistence is the only thing I take from this book, then it was worth the read.
Unfortunately it almost IS the only thing I take from this book.
The biggest obstacle to learning Python with this book won't be the subject matter, but the author. Before we even begin, in the preface, he says "read everything as if I’m smiling and I have a mischievous little twinkle in my eye". The problem is, at no stage did I believe Zed A. Shaw was capable of some mischievous and harmless banter. He comes across as insulting, loud, obnoxious and arrogant. I wouldn't be surprised if the editor who read this before publication insisted that this preface line be included, in an attempt to soften the aggressive nature of the author's delivery.
I'm currently studying for a CCNA; the official Cisco course-ware, in all it's dry, boring, matter-of-fact delivery, is far warmer and more endearing than this guy.
As the book progresses, he also increases his reliance on "Google it". I began getting very frustrated by Exercise 39, when he threw in a 'if not/get' line of code that he made absolutely no reference to in the chapter. This exercise is probably one of the longest pieces of code up until that point, and bizarrely has one of the briefest explanations. You would almost think the author doesn't really know what he's talking about himself. As a matter of fact, he says as much after telling you to Google object-orientated programming: "Don’t worry if it makes absolutely no sense to you. Half of that stuff makes no sense to me either".
From that point onward it's downhill. I constantly had to Google pieces I didn't understand, and would find explanations for them online in MUCH easier, simpler and less derogatory terms.
I still think this book is worth a read, but be prepared to notice the author more than the subject matter.