I’m a librarian. That means that my job is 10% books, 25% fixing the copier, and 500% teaching new tech users, most of them older people, how to operate digital devices. Whether you’re the one venturing bravely into technological life or you’re planning to gift a relative, consider hitting up the public library and getting some instruction too. Try one of these six easy, librarian-approved how-to computer books for new tech users to start. Later, if you’re feeling brave, you can learn to code with your kids and grandkids.
Because the tech cycle is so fast, I haven’t included any books over four years old on this list. Obvs, they will all go out of date within the next few years. Keep following Book Riot because I will write follow-ups.
Also, there’s an unfortunate lack of ethnic diversity in computer usage how-to books and therefore an unfortunate lack of ethnic diversity on this list. I’m going to keep looking for published tech gurus of color, but meanwhile, I’d like to hear from our awesome readership. Comment with your favorite beginner computer books, especially ones by diverse techies.
Onward to tech literacy!
Absolute Beginners Guide to Computing by Wallace Wang
Many of these books that I recommend here focus on Windows 10. Why? Well my friends, for the same reason that you’d focus on a house that’s on fire: it’s a big deal, it’s hard to manage, and it must be dealt with. Wang’s guide to computing discusses using Windows 10’s file system and features, but also explains signing up for online services, opening an email account, and listening to music online. That means it’s a good choice for users of other operating systems, too.
Computer Basics Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Michael Miller
In addition to walking users through Windows 10 setup, Miller’s comprehensive work shows you how to open up a social media account and explains the purpose and significance of this action. It also has a section about viruses and spyware, which I’ve found is a conversation that many tech-literate people don’t have with their tech newbie friends and family. As a result of this lack of information, many new tech users download “ad blockers” that are themselves malware. Skip the heartache and read this book before you venture online for the first time.
Computers for Seniors: Email, Internet, Photos, and More in 14 Easy Lessons by Chris Ewin, Carrie Ewin, and Cheryl Ewin
This book has pictures—in color, no less! It also deals with one of the most common questions that I get at the reference desk: how to manage your digital photos. The tone is light and a little jokey just to remind you that this is a fun, positive experience and you’re going to learn how to use your new computer just fine.
Computers For Seniors For Dummies by Nancy C. Muir
Do not underestimate the For Dummies series. These books have a tried-and-true structural organization that’s easy to follow and annotate. This particular book focuses on Windows 10, but also introduces you to safe online shopping. It’s probably best for people who already have a little computer knowledge. (For example, you should know how to open a program.) However, since a lot of “new” tech users are actually more like “tech users who took FORTRAN classes back in the day but haven’t used a desktop since 2003,” there are plenty of folks who could get some benefit from this title.
Computers Made Easy: From Dummy To Geek by James Bernstein
While some of our other guides focus on getting right online, this book focuses on how exactly your computer operates. What is software really? How does it relate to the peripherals? Is any of this on the Internet? Bernstein’s book will lay out the whole bag of silicon snakes for you in a clear, understandable way. Ideal for people who like detail and in-depth knowledge.
“Is This Thing On?”: A Friendly Guide to Everything Digital for Newbies, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming by Abby Stokes
Unlike a lot of other computer books for new tech users, this title helps you choose your technology before you buy it. It also has information on how to use a smartphone, a category of devices which is both a mixed blessing for people with arthritis and vision issues and essentially unavoidable if you want to live a full modern life. Better yet, the author has a support website where you can watch free video tutorials and read her thoughts on how to manage your digital existence. This book is seriously my go-to. Of all the titles on this list, I recommend it most highly.