The Best Ham Radio Books

If you had to clean out all but three amateur radio and electronics related books from your bookshelf, which three would you keep?

What makes each of these three so useful to you?

Can’t think of three? At least tell us about one or two favorites.

With well over 4,500 daily readers worldwide (thank you!), I’m always so impressed by the answers we get here.

Here are the top 10 answers so far…

  1. ARRL Handbook (7 votes)
  2. ARRL Antenna Book (5 votes)
  3. ARRL Operating Manual (2 votes)
  4. Simple Wire Antennas (2 votes)
  5. Experimental Methods in RF Design (1 vote)
  6. Rothammels Antennenbuch (1 vote)
  7. Grob Basic Electronics (1 vote)
  8. TTL Cookbook (1 vote)
  9. ON4UN’s Low-Band DXing (1 vote)
  10. Vertical Antenna Classics (1 vote)
Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of Contact him at [email protected].

14 Responses to “The Best Ham Radio Books”

  • John Bee, N1GNV:

    ARRL Handbook
    ARRL Antenna Book
    ARRL Operating Manual

    Every ham should own a recent edition of each.
    73 de John Bee, N1GNV
    Quicksilver Radio

  • Jan DK3LJ:

    Experimental Methods in RF Design (a must have for the homebrewing ham)
    ARRL Handbook (A great universal resource)
    Rothammels Antennenbuch (awesome Antenna book, sadly only available in German)

    73, Jan

  • Larry W2LJ:


    My vote is as follows:

    1) ARRL Antenna Book
    2) ARRL Operating Manual – which people should actually read!
    3) Simple Wire Antennas – Bill Orr (SK)

    Larry W2LJ

  • Chris kQ2RP:

    1) ARRL Antenna Book
    2) ARRL Handbook
    3) Practical Wire Antennas – John Heys

  • Fred Rugar ke5htb:

    I consider the arrl handbook
    arrl antenna book
    and the fcc rule book should be in every

    then as many antenna books as you can afford to read and make
    the projects dont just read it and not at least try
    Something from each book


  • Paul NØJAA:

    If I had to choose only three books that I could keep (besides a copy of Part 97, which doesn’t count towards the total), here’s what I would select:

    1. ARRL Handbook (most current edition)
    2. “Basic Electronics” by Bernard Grob (current edition)
    3. “TTL Cookbook” by Donald E. Lancaster

    No ham can go wrong with those three books in his library. With them you can build almost any electronic circuit, gadget, transmitter, receiver, etc.

    Paul N0JAA

  • W0FMS:

    ARRL Handbook
    ARRL Antenna Manual
    ON4UN’s Low Band DX book. (Not just for low banders, if you read it cover to cover you’ll figure out why)

    Other good ones, not in the top three:

    Experimental Methods in RF design and/or Solid State Design for the Radio Amateur (previous title of basically the same book)
    W1FB’s QRP Design notebook
    ARRL Wire Antenna Series, #2 is the best IMHO



  • Goody K3NG:

    #1 ARRL Handbook
    #2 ARRL Antenna Book

    I’m going to buck the trend and say Doug Demaw’s QRP Notebook for #3, though it’s really tough picking a #3.

  • Don N4KC:

    First two are obvious: ARRL HANDBOOK and ARRL ANTENNA BOOK. I’d make #3 ON4UN’s LOWBAND DXING, for the reason already cited. There’s far more information–technical, operating and just plain practical–than simply stuff about 80 and 160.

    Don N4KC

  • Garth KF7ATL:

    Every DXer and wanna be DXer should have Bob Locher’s “The Complete DXer”, first for the valuable techniques taught, and secondly just for the sheer pleasure of reading about the experiences of one of the legends of DXing.

  • Chuck Heath K6ZIZ:

    #1 ARRL Handbook
    #2 ARRL Antenna book
    #3 Rod Dinkins DX101x HF + 6 meters DXing Reference Guide

    #3 was a tough choice between Dinkins, AC6V, and the ARRL Operating Manual. I chose Dinkins because no one else has chosen it.

    Now, if you asked about the top ten….

  • Barry KV4FV:

    #1 ARRL Handbook
    #2 ARRL Antenna Book
    #3 FCC rule book

    I’ve been a ham since 1953. Those are the classics because they cover all the basic information.

    A good antenna book would be my #4.

  • Jerry KK4GMU:

    I have the 2007-2011 version of the ARRL Operating Manual. Does the 12th (2019) edition have enough new stuff in it to make the $10 Kindle version cost worthwhile? Or are there more recent books to bring me up to date?

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