10 Best R Books for R Programmers

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10 Best R Books for R Programmers

Ramya Shankar
Last updated on May 22, 2024

    Here, we will discuss the 10 best R books. R is the leading programming language preferred by data scientists and statisticians for data analysis and research. It is more than a programming language, though. In fact, it is a complete platform.

    It has secured a place in the data analytics and big data segments. Also, many renowned companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google, use the R language to carry out data-related operations. R is not analogous to other programming languages like Python and 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 detail ten 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 programming language and the R software environment to build robust statistical software.

    This language supports multiple programming paradigms, namely 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, including 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. RStudio is an integrated development environment that manages all R scripts. There are two versions of RStudio:

    1. RStudio Server: It allows you to use a webserver to access RStudio and runs on a remote server.
    2. RStudio Desktop: It is a regular desktop application, enabling you to run R on your desktop.

    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 of R

    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, and so on.
    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 of R

    1. R has a repository called Comprehensive R Archive Network, which holds more than 10k 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. However, you may get confused while picking the best R book as there are numerous books available on the market.

    Fret not, as here we present you a curated list of the 10 best R books from subject matter experts and industry-recognized authors. Let's start the list with R for Data Science.

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

    R for Data Science

    Author: Garrett Grolemund and Hadley Wickham

    As its name suggests, R for Data Science introduces you to data science . Also, it helps you understand how to apply R programming skills in data analysis. Reading this book does not require any prior programming knowledge. 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 data - Transforming datasets into the most convenient form for analysis.
    • Explore data - Inspecting data, generating hypotheses, and testing them immediately.
    • Program in R - Learning robust R tools to solve data problems effortlessly.
    • Communicate using R - Learning R Markdown for integrating code, prose, and results.

    The book is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Hadley Wickham is the Dobelman Family Junior Chair in Statistics and an Assistant Professor at Rice University. He is an active member of the R community and has written and contributed to over 30 R packages. Also, he is the winner of the John Chambers Award for Statistical Computing.

    Garrett Grolemund is a teacher, statistician, and R developer currently at RStudio. He holds a Ph.D. from Rice University in Hadley Wickham's lab.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 522 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

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

    Hands-On Programming with R: Write Your Own Functions and Simulations

    Author: Garrett Grolemund

    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 of R, creating your own functions, and using all tools available for R programming. In this book, the author 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 the 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. You can read this book in Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Garrett Grolemund is an R developer currently working at RStudio. Also, he is a statistician and teacher. Currently, he is developing a training curriculum for RStudio. He holds a Ph.D. from Rice University.

    Publisher: Shroff/O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 272 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

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

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

    Author: Hadley Wickham

    Number 3 on our list of the best R books is R Packages. It is an ideal book for those aiming to grasp in-depth knowledge of R packages. This R 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.

    The author explains how to apply the package development philosophy to combine reusable R functions, documentation, and sample data together. R Packages will help you learn:

    • Various crucial components of the R package like unit tests vignettes.
    • Automating anything using dev tools.
    • 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) .

    You can purchase this book in Paperback and Kindle editions.

    About the Author

    Hadley Wickham is Dobelman Family Junior Chair in Statistics and an assistant professor at Rice University. Also, he is a Chief Scientist at RStudio. He has also written and contributed to more than 30 R packages.

    Publisher: O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 202 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    4. R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics

    R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics

    Author: Jared P Lander

    Number 4 on our list of the best R books is R for Everyone. As its title implies, this R book is a definitive tutorial for anyone willing to learn to program with R. Also, it explains statistical computation for programmers, scientists, quants, excel users, and other professionals.

    This R 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, and so on.

    Also, the author has explained everything in 30 self-contained chapters and sample code in this book. Some important topics 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

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

    About the Author

    Jared P Lander owns a statistical consulting firm, Lander Analytics, which is located in New York. He is a professor of statistics at Columbia University. Also, he holds a master's degree in statistics from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Muhlenberg College.

    Publisher: Addison-Wesley
    Paperback Print Length: 560 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    5. The R Book

    The R Book

    Author: Michael J. Crawley

    The R Book is one of the most popular beginner-friendly R books. The author has explained the fundamentals of R programming through advanced concepts using full-color text and graphics. 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 the concepts of R programming, the author has also covered the evolution of R programming over the past five years, from the date of the book’s publication. This book comes in two formats, namely Hardcover and Kindle.

    About the Author

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

    Publisher: Wiley
    Paperback Print Length: 1785 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    6. R in Action (3rd Edition)

    R in Action- Data Analysis and Graphics with R Paperback

    Author: Robert I. Kabacoff

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

    The third edition of R in Action discusses one of the packages from tidyverse, the 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 in R.
    • The use of the ggplot2 package for creating appealing visualizations.

    You can purchase this book in only the Paperback edition. Nonetheless, you get a free eBook in Kindle, ePub, and PDF formats when you buy a physical copy.

    About the Author

    Robert I. Kabacoff is a Quantitative Analytics Professor at Wesleyan University. Moreover, he is a seasoned data scientist. He has contributed his data analytics and statistical programming skills in the healthcare, business, and government sectors.

    Publisher: Manning
    Paperback Print Length: 625 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

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

    The Art of R Programming: A Tour of Statistical Software Design

    Author: Norman Matloff

    It is yet another chart-topping R book for beginners. Also, The  Art of R Programming is an excellent guide to harnessing the potential of statistical computing for those wishing to forecast the weather, tame their data, design aircraft, and so on.

    Through the R book, the author takes you through the various concepts in 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 paradigms.

    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.

    You can read this book in Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Norman Matloff is a Computer Science Professor at the University of California, Davis. He has created several popular software packages. Also, he is the creator of widely-used web tutorials on computer topics.

    Publisher: No Starch Press
    Paperback Print Length: 400 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    8. R Graphics Cookbook: Practical Recipes for Visualizing Data

    R Graphics Cookbook- Practical Recipes for Visualizing Data

    Author: Winston Chang

    R Graphics Cookbook is a definitive guide ideal for those wishing to explore the graphical capabilities of R. The book involves 150 recipes and illustrations to help you leverage R to develop top-level graphics. In this book, Chang explains each recipe using a specific problem and its relevant solution.

    You can even use solutions mentioned throughout the book for your own projects. Moreover, 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, and so forth to summarize data distributions.

    You can read this book in Paperback and Kindle formats.

    About the Author

    Winston Chang is a Software Engineer at the RStudio. He works on data visualization and software development tools for R. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Northwestern University.

    Publisher: Shroff/O’Reilly
    Paperback Print Length: 444 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

    9. Practical Data Science with R

    Practical Data Science with R (MANNING)

    Author: John Mount and Nina Zumel

    Ranked among the best R books for beginners, Practical Data Science with R 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. The authors have divided the book into three parts:

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

    This R 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. You can purchase this book in only the Paperback format.

    About the Author

    John Mount and Nina Zumel are the cofounders of a San Francisco-based data science consultancy.

    Publisher: Dreamtech Press
    Paperback Print Length: 416 pages

    You can buy this book from here .

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

    The Book of R- A First Course in Programming and Statistics

    Author: Tilman M. Davies

    The Book of R is our last pick for the list of best R books. 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.

    In this book, the author 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 R 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.

    The Book of R is available in two Kindle and Paperback formats.

    About the Author

    Tilman M. Davies teaches statistics at the University of Otago in New Zealand. There he teaches R and statistics at all university levels. Moreover, he holds over ten years of experience programming with R.

    Publisher: No Starch Press
    Paperback Print Length: 833 pages

    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 one or more R books that seem ideal to you and develop R programming skills to start your professional career in data science.

    People are also reading:


    The best books to learn R for beginners are: 1. R for Data Science 2. R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics 3. The R Book 4. R in Action 5. The Book of R.

    R is a programming language specially created for working with data. It is used for data analytics, scientific research, and statistical computing.

    R is ideal for analyzing and visually representing data. Meanwhile, Python is best-suited for machine learning, deep learning, and large-scale web applications.

    Yes, it is worth learning R. If you are plannign to pursue your career in data science, it is essential to learn R.

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