10 Best R Books for R Programmers

By | November 26, 2021
Best R Books

R is one of the programming languages preferred by data scientists and statisticians for data analysis and research. It has made a significant place in the world of data analytics and big data. Also, many renowned companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google use the R language to carry out data-related operations.

This language is not analogous to other programming languages, like Python or Java that offer easy-to-learn syntaxes and versatility. It is specially developed for statisticians and offers excellent data visualization features.

In this article, we shall discuss what exactly the R programming language is along with its key features. Later, we will familiarize you with some of the best R books written by renowned authors and researchers.

What is the R Programming Language?

R is a programming language and an environment for statistical computing, graphical representation of data, and report creation. Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka designed the R programming language. Data miners and statisticians extensively use the R language and R software environment to build robust statistical software.

This language supports multiple programming principles, such as functional, object-oriented, reflective, procedural, and imperative. Licensed under the GNU General Public License, the R software environment is open-source and free to use. It is a platform-independent language available across all major operating systems, like Windows, Linux, and macOS.


R is an interpreted language and enables you to integrate procedures written in C, C++, FORTRAN, Python, and .Net languages. It is also a scripting language, offering strong support for statistical analysis techniques, data analysis using graphical visualizations, and machine learning models.

You get various built-in packages in R, helping you build efficient data models, R programs, and impressive graphical charts.


An integrated development platform that manages all R scripts is RStudio. There are two formats of RStudio:

  • RStudio Server: It allows you to use a webserver to access RStudio and runs on a remote server.
  • RStudio Desktop: It is a regular desktop application.

Features of R Programming Language

The features of the R programming language are categorized into two parts: Statistical and Programming. Let us discuss each of these features below.

Statistical Features

  1. The R programming language can measure ‘Measures of Central Tendency’ quickly and easily. ‘Measures of Central Tendency’ are mean, mode, and median in statistics.
  2. We can design and develop impressive static graphics as R involves functionality for various plot types, like biplots, mosaic plots, graphic maps, etc.
  3. R can handle different kinds of probability distributions, like Chi-squared Distribution, Binomial Distribution, and Normal Distribution.
  4. A broad spectrum of tools is available in R to carry out data analysis.

Programming Features

  1. R has a repository called Comprehensive R Archive Network, which holds more than 10,000 packages.
  2. It supports distributed programming using the two latest R packages – multidplyr and ddR.

10 Best R Books for Beginners and Professional R Programmers

Despite multiple free resources available on the internet, referring to books to gain knowledge is always the best choice. You may get confused while picking the best R book as there are numerous books available in the market. Here is a curated list of the 10 best R books from subject matter experts and industry-recognized authors.

1. R for Data Science: Import, Tidy, Transform, Visualize, and Model data

As its name suggests, R for Data Science introduces you to what data science actually is. Also, it helps you understand how to apply R programming skills in data analysis. Reading this book does not require any prior programming knowledge.

Garrett Grolemund and Hadley Wickham are the writers of this book. Hadley Wickham is the Dobelman Family Junior Chair in Statistics and an Assistant Professor at Rice University. On the other hand, Garrett Grolemud is a teacher, statistician, and R developer currently at RStudio.

The authors introduce you to R, RStudio, and the tidyverse package in R. Moreover, they will walk you through different R topics, including data wrangling, data visualization, modeling, exploratory data analysis, and inference.

After reading this book, you will understand how to:

  • Wrangle – transforming datasets into the most convenient form for analysis.
  • Explore – inspecting data, generating hypotheses, and testing them immediately.
  • Program – learning robust R tools to solve data problems effortlessly.
  • Communicate – learning R Markdown for integrating code, prose, and results.

O’Reilly is the publisher of this 522-page long book. Also, the book is available in two formats: Kindle and Paperback.

You can buy this book from here.

2. Hands-on Programming with R: Write Your Own Functions and Simulations

This is one of the most popular R books and acts as a practical guide to dive deeper into R programming and understand its concepts so that you can apply them to solve real-world data science problems. You can also learn data loading, assembling, and disassembling data objects, navigating the environment system of R, creating your own functions, and using all tools available for R programming.

Garrett Grolemund is the author of this book, and he is an R developer currently working at RStudio. In this book, he teaches you how to develop programs in R. Moreover, you will learn how to leverage R for more than just modeling and visualizing data.

This book will help you with the following:

  • Writing robust R code.
  • Leveraging debugging tools and R package system.
  • Storing, retrieving, and modifying data values in the computer’s memory.

This R book includes three data analytics projects on casino games that will help you gain hands-on experience with R programming.

The total number of pages in this book is 272, and you can read it in Kindle and Paperback formats. Shroff/O’Reilly is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

3. R Packages: Organize, Test, Document, and Share Your Code

It is an ideal book for those aiming to grasp in-depth knowledge of R packages. This book will come in handy if you want to understand the basics of R packages and develop your own R packages. Data scientists, programmers, and developers from different backgrounds can learn R programming with this book.

Hadley Wickham is the writer of this book, and he is Dobelman FamilyJunior Chair in Statistics and an assistant professor at Rice University. He explains how to apply the package development philosophy to combine reusable R functions, documentation, and sample data together.

This R book will help you learn:

  • Various crucial components of the R package, like unit tests, vignettes.
  • Automating anything using Devtools.
  • The use of dev tools to streamline the development process.
  • A practical approach to submit your own package to the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN).

It is a 202-page book, and you can purchase it in Paperback and Kindle editions. O’Reilly is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

4. R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics

As its title implies, this book is a definitive tutorial for anyone willing to learn R programming. Also, it explains statistical computation for programmers, scientists, quants, excel users, and other professionals.

This book introduces you first to the fundamentals of R programming and then moves forward gradually, covering advanced concepts, like advanced analytics, creating new R packages, etc.

Jared Lander is the writer of this book, and he owns a statistical consulting firm, Lander Analytics, which is located in New York. He explained 30 self-contained chapters and sample code in this book.

Some important topics of R covered in this book are as follows:

  • Fundamentals of R.
  • Basics of Statistics
  • Interactive dashboard
  • Rich documents using RMarkdown
  • Data modeling
  • Statistical programming
  • Data visualization

This book is an ideal pick for you if you want to start programming with the R language from scratch and build your own R packages.

Addison-Wesley is the publisher of this 560-page book, and you can purchase it in Kindle and Paperback formats.

You can buy this book from here.

5. The R Book

It is one of the beginner-friendly R books to learn R programming. The author has explained the fundamentals of R programming through advanced concepts using full-color text and graphics.

Michael J. Crawley is the writer of this book, and he is employed at the Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

The latest edition of The R Book is the second edition, and its main highlights are as follows:

  • It allows you to locate information easily as the author has divided the content into several small sections.
  • Incorporates a new chapter on Meta-Analysis and Bayesian Analysis.
  • Features a fully-revised reference section and bibliography.

Along with R programming’s concepts, the author has also covered the evolution of R programming over the past five years, from the date of the book’s publication.

It is a lengthy book with a massive page count of 1785. Also, Wiley is the publisher of the book, and it has two editions, namely Hardcover and Kindle.

You can buy this book from here.

6. R in Action (3rd Edition)

R in Action is an ideal choice for beginners and intermediate-level R programmers. You may require the knowledge of statistics and mathematics to understand the contents of this book effectively. However, it is not essential to hold prior experience in R programming.

This book explores popular tidyverse packages using hands-on relevant examples for technical, scientific, and business developers.

Robert I. Kabacoff is the writer of R in Action, and he is a quantitative analytics professor at Wesleyan University. Moreover, he is a seasoned data scientist and has contributed his data analytic and statistical programming skills in the healthcare, business, and government sectors.

The third edition of R in Action discusses one of the packages from tidyverse, ggplot2 package along with R’s cutting-edge graphing capabilities. Later, the author walks you through statistics and guides you on how to deal with incomplete and untidy data to develop impressive visualizations.

This book helps you learn:

  • How to clean, manage, and analyze data with R.
  • Various approaches to building packages and debugging programs.
  • The use of the ggplot2 package for creating appealing visualizations.

It is a 625-page book, and you can buy it in only the Paperback edition. You get a free eBook in Kindle, ePub, and PDF formats when you buy the book print. Manning is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

7. The Art of R Programming – A Tour of Statistical Software Design

It is yet another chart-topping R book for beginners. Also, this book is an excellent guide to harness the potential of statistical computing for those wishing to forecast the weather, tame their data, or design aircraft.

Norman Matloff is the writer of the book, and he is a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis. Through the book, he takes you through the various topics of R, including basic types and data structures, recursion, closures, and anonymous functions.

Moreover, the book helps you explore the concepts of object-oriented and functional programming. You will also learn how to reorganize data into a more straightforward form and run mathematical simulations.

By going through this R book, you will learn how to:

  • Visualize complex functions and data sets by developing artful graphs.
  • Use parallel R and vectorization to write clean and efficient code.
  • Analyze text and manipulate images using new R packages.
  • Leverage debugging technologies to identify and eliminate annoying bugs.
  • Unite R with Python and C/C++ to enhance the speed and functionality of the code.

It is a 400-page book, and you can read it in two formats: Kindle and Paperback. No Starch Press is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.

8. R Graphics Cookbook: Practical Recipes for Visualizing Data

It is a definitive guide ideal for those wishing to explore R’s graphical capabilities. The book involves 150 recipes and illustrations to help you leverage R to develop top-level graphics.

Winston Chang, a software engineer at the RStudio, is the author of this book. In this book, he has explained each recipe using a specific problem and its relevant solution. You can even use solutions mentioned throughout the book for your own projects.

The author has described most of the recipes using the latest version of the ggplot2 package. All these recipes are easy to use and understand, but a basic understanding of the R language is essential.

This book teaches you:

  • The default graphics of R for exploring data quickly.
  • About developing various line graphs, bar graphs, and scatter plots.
  • How to leverage density curves, histograms, box plots, etc. to summarize data distributions.

Shroff/O’Reilly is the publisher of this book, and you can buy it in Paperback and Kindle formats.

You can buy this book from here.

9. Practical Data Science with R

Ranked among the best R books for beginners, it teaches you how to handle daily business operations by applying different R programming language concepts. Also, the book will help you understand how to develop predictive models and design experiments by illustrating business intelligence and marketing examples.

John Mount and Nina Zumel are the authors of Practical Data Science with R. Both of them are the cofounders of San Francisco-based data science consultancy.

The authors have divided the book into three parts:

  1. Introduction to Data Science
  2. Modeling Methods
  3. Delivering Results

This book covers various topics including the following ones:

  • Statistical analysis using the R language
  • Tips to present data effectively
  • Data science for the business professional
  • Project lifecycle, from planning to delivery

There is no need to have a strong background in data science to read and understand the contents of this book.

It is a 416-page book, and you can purchase it in only the Paperback edition. Dreamtech Press is the publisher of the book.

You can buy this book from here.

10. The Book of R: A First Course in Programming and Statistics

If you possess a little knowledge of the basics of mathematics and no prior programming experience, this book is the perfect choice for you to learn R programming for statistical analysis.

Tilman M. Davies is the writer of this book, and he teaches statistics at the University of Otago in New Zealand. In this book, he first discusses the essential topics of R, like handling data and writing simple programs. Later, he talks about advanced topics, like modeling, performing statistical tests, and generating statistical summaries.

This book helps you learn how to leverage R’s graphics tools and packages, like ggvis and ggplot2, to create appealing data visualizations. Moreover, you will learn to use the R’s rgl package to develop interactive 3D visualizations.

This book will help you learn:

  • Statistical concepts, such as probabilities, regression modeling, hypothesis tests, and exploratory data analysis.
  • The basics of R like writing data frames, using variables, statements, and loops, and creating functions.
  • How to draw valid conclusions from your data, access R’s multiple functions, libraries, and data sets, and create high-quality graphics.

It is an 833-page book, which is available in two editions: Kindle and Paperback. No Starch Press is the publisher of this book.

You can buy this book from here.


The R language is the heart of data science and is popularly known as the lingua franca of statistics. Also, the increasing rate of data generation has led data companies and research institutions to leverage R programming for data analysis. Therefore, learning R programming is the gateway to starting your career in the data science domain.

At present, thousands of R books are available in the market, but finding the right one is a tough row to hoe. In this article, we have mentioned the best R books that can help you strengthen your knowledge of R. You can select any book that seems ideal to you and develop R programming skills to start your professional career in data science.

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