SQL is a leading programming language in the IT industry and is quickly becoming a high-demand skill in tech jobs. It is a simple language used to query and manipulate relational databases, such as SQL Server and the Oracle database. You can start learning SQL at home by reading one of the best SQL books.
If you’re a student or an entry-level programmer, reading a few of the best books to learn SQL will give you a leg-up on your SQL journey. Advanced learners looking to learn about complex topics will want to check out the best books for SQL professionals that can give them a competitive edge. Keep reading to find the best SQL books for you.
How Can I Choose the Best Books for SQL Developers?
SQL developers can choose the best books for SQL by considering a number of factors. Some factors are personal, such as your budget, your experience level, and your learning goals. However, you should also consider the author’s expertise and the topics covered in the book. Below are some tips for choosing the best SQL books
Tips for Choosing the Best SQL Books
- Create a budget and stick to it. Be honest about what you can afford and settle on a budget before you shop. You can spend less by choosing previous editions of texts, or you can have a backup price in mind if you can’t find the right book for your budget.
- Decide on a clear learning goal. Do you want to master basic commands or cultivate an advanced understanding of deeper topics? Or maybe you want a handy reference that you can rely on while working. Know what you want to gain from your book.
- Research SQL books for your level. Do you need a book for beginners, or are you an experienced developer looking for something suitable for the advanced challenges you experience at work? Your place in your learning journey is a key factor.
- Know your author. Search for authors in the SQL field and research their work. Recognizable names are great for ensuring good information, and reading reviews can help you find an author with an accessible writing style.
- Weigh your options. From your research, find books that share the fundamental concepts you want to learn and compare them. Lots of books cover similar topics, but by keeping this checklist in mind you can find the best learning resource for your needs.
The 10 Best SQL Books: An Overview
|Getting Started with SQL: A Hands-On Approach for Beginners||O’Reilly Media, Inc.||Database design, how to use key SQL statements in data|
|Head First SQL: Your Brain on SQL||O’Reilly Media, Inc.||Fundamentals of SQL, data normalization|
|Joe Celko’s SQL for Smarties: Advanced SQL Programming||Morgan Kaufmann||Tips and techniques in advanced programming, database normalization, optimizing SQL|
|Learning SQL: Master SQL Fundamentals||O’Reilly Media, Inc.||SQL data statement, SQL basics, creating database objects|
|Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes||Sams Publishing||Basic SELECT and filtering, basics for major databases, database tables|
|SQL All-in-One For Dummies||Wiley||SQL data types, common SQL terms, how to structure SQL queries|
|SQL Cookbook: Query Solutions and Techniques for Database Developers||O’Reilly Media, Inc.||Window functions, database-specific features, advanced queries|
|SQL for Data Scientists: A Beginner’s Guide for Building Datasets for Analysis||Wiley||Fundamental SQL syntax, exploratory data analysis with SQL|
|SQL Performance Explained||Markus Winand||Multi-column indexes, optimizing join operations, clustering data|
|SQL Queries for Mere Mortals||Addison Wesley||Relational databases, SQL basics, advanced queries|
The 10 Best SQL Books: A Closer Look
This essential list of must-read SQL books has something for everyone, from the total newcomer to the professional programmer or database administrator. We’ve chosen a spread that covers basic and advanced topics, including textbooks, quick references, and books for beginners written in an accessible style. Both advanced and beginner learners can find the perfect book for them.
1. Getting Started with SQL: A Hands-On Approach for Beginners
- Author: Thomas Nield
- Best for: Business and IT professionals who are new to SQL
If you want to improve your SQL skills for your existing IT job, this book is for you. It’s a hands-on guide that gives you the chance to practice at home without needing a database server environment. You’ll get an introduction to relational databases and learn useful ways to query and transform data.
2. Head First SQL: Your Brain on SQL
- Author: Lynn Beighley
- Best for: Learners without little SQL experience
Head First SQL is an intro guide that teaches you how to make databases work for you. Written with easy language, it uses tips and examples to teach you the fundamentals of SQL. You’ll go on a full learning journey, from the basic INSERT statements and SELECT queries to data manipulation.
3. Joe Celko’s SQL for Smarties: Advanced SQL Programming
- Author: Joe Celko
- Best for: Advanced users
SQL for Smarties is an ideal book for understanding advanced concepts in SQL, such as procedural, semi-procedural, and declarative programming. It covers different data types, simple and advanced functions, normalization and denormalization, and many more high-level topics.
4. Learning SQL: Master SQL Fundamentals
- Author: Alan Beaulieu
- Best forAdvanced users
Learning SQL is an excellent book and an essential guide for SQL, covering all of the essential topics from introductory topics to advanced features. You’ll learn how to use SQL data statements, queries, subqueries, and other functions in the language.
5. Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes
- Author: Ben Forts
- Best for: Self-taught learners
This book offers straightforward and practical examples and answers to teach you the absolute basics of SQL. It’s a great user guide for simple data retrieval, joins, subqueries, stored procedures, and other functions. You’ll also get a feeling for how SQL is structured and works.
6. SQL All-in-One For Dummies
- Author: Allen G. Taylor
- Best for: Beginners
The SQL edition of this famous how-to series does not disappoint. You’ll want to read this book from cover to cover thanks to its friendly style. It covers SQL basics, the latest upgrades, database development, and other essential information for database administrators and programmers.
7. SQL Cookbook: Query Solutions and Techniques for Database Developers
- Author: Anthony Molinaro
- Best for: Advanced users
If you have the basics of SQL down pat but want to learn the secrets to fully implementing the programming language, this is the book for you. Anthony Molinaro draws on his years of experience as a database administrator to share a wide coverage of techniques, including advanced techniques and his favorite SQL techniques. The book also includes features, like window functions, PIVOT and UNPIVOT operators, and more.
8. SQL for Data Scientists: A Beginner’s Guide for Building Datasets for Analysis
- Author: Renee M.P. Teate
- Best for: Data scientists without a tech background
SQL plays a core role in data science, and this book focuses on the subset of SQL skills that data scientists and data analysts use frequently. It covers topics like relational database structure, query design, and SQL syntax, and it provides a sample database for practice.
9. SQL Performance Explained
- Author: Markus Winand
- Best for: Developers at all levels.
This is a comprehensive guide through all parts of a SQL statement. New developers and experienced programmers alike will improve database performance. Winand covers all the major SQL databases without getting lost in the product details.
10. SQL Queries for Mere Mortals
- Author: John L. Viescas and Michael J. Hernandez.
- Best for: Beginners
This book is a definitive text for a complete beginner. It guides you through relatable queries for any modern SQL-based database. You’ll learn how to solve a range of SQL problems. Topic coverage includes SQL basics, using SELECT statements, and creating expressions.
Alternative Ways to Learn SQL
There’s more than one way to learn any subject or language, and SQL is no exception. Aside from books, you can find online courses that fit your skill level. For example, Coursera offers classes like SQL for Data Science which are suitable for total beginners. Those aiming to become senior developers can take classes like Udemy’s SQL Advanced.
Bootcamps are another great way to learn SQL. They are intensive, short-term programs, but they have different formats to suit different schedules. Schools such as Simplilearn, Nucamp, and Thinkful offer a range of online SQL bootcamps, including part-time, full-time, and self-paced programs.
Is Learning SQL Worth it?
Yes, learning SQL is worth it. A wide range of career options open to you when you know SQL, including database administrators, database developers, and data scientists. These are stable jobs, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting an eight percent job growth for database administrators over the next 10 years.
Best SQL Books FAQs
Yes, you can learn the basics of SQL in two weeks. If you want to gain more SQL knowledge, you should consider an intensive learning method such as a bootcamp.
Yes, SQL is easier to learn than Python because it has a narrower range of functions and produces functions meant for specific tasks
Yes, there is a future in SQL because of its widespread use. It has an open-source of free databases and it’s an interactive language that solves complex queries. Careers that work with databases use SQL every day.
You can master SQL by keeping a record of your SQL learning experience and creating SQL-based reports for your company. You could also volunteer or freelance on a SQL database project to exchange SQL knowledge with others.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.