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I am not a reviewer of books as I have not once tested different books against each other on the same subject and checked that their Amazon star rating was appropriate. That said, having a textbook to refer to when learning and building a Joomla CMS website is much better than not, and having one that is up-to-date is probably best. Also, there are some very poorly reviewed textbooks that are worth avoiding and textbooks for Joomla 1.5 are now pretty obsolete.

Birkbeck's Library has now acquired a range of Joomla based textbooks including the 2013 Joomla Bible and the 2013 CiviCRM Cookbook. Annual membership of the Library is free for students, £70 for past students and an eye-wateringly £204 for everyone else.

On Joomla, the imminent release of 3.5 has triggered a brace of new beginner's guides. This just means that the books from 2012 are still relevant but are simply not as fresh and accurate as those recently published in 2013 or about to be published in 2014. The books of note of the two generations are these four:

Joomla Visual Quickstart Joomla Explained Tiggeler, Eric (2013) Joomla! 3: Beginner's Guide Birmingham: Packt Publishing Burge, Stephen (2014) Joomla! 3 Explained: Your Step to Step Guide Boston, USA: Pearson Education

The first three have all been well reviewed by Amazon customers and you can see a preference for pointing out the weaknesses even when handing out lots of stars which is helpful if slightly off putting. The one I chose to buy was the Derr & Symes as it was in 2011 the latest and the best rated and most reviewed. This is not to write that it was perfect and it was not at all and had some glaring ommissions and unhelpfully vague instruction but it is always good to have a book to hand and the index worked as a quick referecnce system. This is not to take away from the Joomla Forums, best accessed by searching on Google but a textbook really is worth investing in at the beginning so that the most is gained for the least of costs.

Tiggeler, Eric (2013) Joomla! 2.5: Beginner's Guide Birmingham: Packt Publishing Watson, Kerry (2012) VirtueMart 2 Dripping Springs, TX, USA: OSC Manuals Shreves, Ric (2013) Joomla! Bible: The Comprehensive Tutorial Resource Indianapolis, IN, USA: John Wiley & Sons Horrocks, Tony (2013) CiviCRM Cookbook Birmingham: Packt Publishing

The Joomla! 2.5: Beginner' Guide is also in the Birkbeck Library and the VirtueMart 2 User's Manual is helpful but unnecessary unless you are not using this extension. If you are buying any of these books, you can ask me about them but my suggestion is Eric Tiggeler's Joomla! 3: Beginner's Guide as a choice of first purchase.