Looking for a Java book recommendation for experienced developers getting up to speed


So after finishing up my ongoing Blender tutorial series, I intend to take a closer look at LibGDX and hopefully launch a new tutorial series.  This however presented a bit of a challenge to me.  You see, although I have experience with Java, it’s pretty out of date.  Since the release of C#, I’ve done very little work in Java other than some dabbling here and there.  So my knowledge is certainly out of date.  For example, when I last seriously programmed in Java Annotations ( ie @Override ) didn’t exist and the language didn’t yet have generics.


Obviously I need to get up to speed with modern Java before I start writing some truly embarrassing code.  This however presented a terrible problem for me.  Most texts are either targeted towards complete beginners or are more advanced and targeted at a very specific domain or technology.  The beginners texts make me want to scratch my eyeballs out, as after a decade of working in C#, and a few years of working in Java before that, reading about what a class is, or what a private variable does is a little…  behind me.  On the other hand, the little tidbits of information I need ( about what’s new ) are buried in these descriptions. 


I’ve been looking for an ideal book and I haven’t found one.  Something along the lines of Effective C++ or JavaScript: The Good Parts would be absolutely ideal.  Both of those books present best practices for experienced programmers in the modern usage of each language.  Both are incredible reads and will change the way you program.  Sadly, I haven’t found a Java equivalent yet.  There are a couple books I’ve tried.


The first was Java: The Good Parts.  By the title, I was really expecting something like the JavaScript book I mentioned earlier.  I will say, I do recommend this book, but it really isn’t what I am looking for.  The author Jim Waldo has been at Sun ( er, Oracle ) a very long time and has a deep insight into the Java language and how it evolved.  It answers a lot of the “why the hell did they do this???” questions you might have about various language features.  That said, the target audience seems a bit confused, at times covering brutally simple tasks in detail, like it was aimed at a beginner.  Then jumping into a topic at a more advanced level.  Basically this means I have to read through a lot of stuff I already know quite well.   I don’t regret reading it though, again, it gave some pretty good insight behind the curtain of language development.


Then I went with Learning Java 4th Edition as it was one of the most up to date releases ( July 2013 ), was reasonably well reviewed on Amazon and Safari and seemed to be partitioned nicely into beginner and more advanced topics.  At the end of the day, I guess I am resolved to have to go through all the beginner stuff to pick up what’s changed.  Oh well I guess.


So, to any of you Java developers out there… are there any books along the lines of what I am looking for?  A text that focused on writing modern Java code.  That illustrate what parts of the language are cruft and what various best practices are?  A text aimed at a non-beginner?  If there is a book you recommend, I would love to hear it!.

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