The definitive guide to learning Lispy languages (those with s-expressions)

As part of the Summer of Sexps, we want to collate the best resources for lisp-style programming. If there’s a book, video, podcast, course (or anything else!) that helped you learn or master s-expressions, prefix notation, or anything else lisp related, please list it in the thread, and we’ll keep this post updated!


Highly recommend the Coursera course Programming Languages (Part A, B, C) from University of Washington, Part B teaches Racket. Link:


For Scheme and Lisp in general I’ve started reading the second edition of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and I’m really enjoying it! It uses Scheme for all of the examples. This book is available for free as a PDF from the 6.001 course page.


When learning Clojure, I really liked Learn to Program the World's Most Bodacious Language with Clojure for the Brave and True

For me personally, this book didn’t work well for me. I found their tendency to use math-based problems in their examples did nothing to further my learning, but instead made it harder. Might be completely personal, but I did want to put it out there.


The Joy of Clojure


Quick: An Introduction to Racket with Pictures is a short tutorial that introduces Racket (and a little bit of functional programming) using its built-in picture drawing library.

For a great overview of clojure I really like “[Clojure in a nutshell]”(Clojure in a nutshell by James Trunk - YouTube) by James Trunk. It is half an hour and teaches you everything to get started and beyond.

To train the mind to become a better (functional) coder, I can recommend How To Design Programs. It uses Racket and after doing the course, any lisp will feel like home.

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This (freely available online) book Beautiful Racket is

an intro­duc­tion to language-oriented program­ming using Racket

The book assumes very little: only that you have done at least a little bit of programming, in any language whatsoever.

The following two appendices of the above book are also great on their own.

The book The Little Schemer is quite famous for being approachable, fun, and insightful.

Sequels include

Not exactly on topic, but should you wish to gain some insight into how one might implement a Lisp, you might be interested in Write You A Scheme, Version 2, which shows how to build a Scheme interpreter using Haskell.


I’ve found three more books that are freely available to read in your browser.