Top 5 Books to learn SQL and Database Design in 2023 - Best of Lot

SQL (Structured Query Language) is one of the most essential skills of a programmer. I would rate this skill similar to UNIX if you are a professional programmer because it doesn't matter whether you are Java, C++, or a .NET developer, you are bound to write SQL queries. Since a database is an integral part of any modern Java or Web application, the Interviewer always preferred candidates with excellent SQL skills. Now, the big question comes, how a programmer can learn SQL? Does just knowing how to query a table is enough? If you remember, insert, update, delete, and select, then are you a competent SQL programmer?

What about indexes, query plans, triggers, views, stored procedures, and other advanced SQL concepts? What about writing complex queries involving joins, subqueries, derived tables, etc.? Well, all those are very important to be a competent full-stack developer.

I started learning SQL from my college days, and I am hooked to it because of its simplicity and power. I also found writing SQL queries exciting and challenging, similar to solving programming puzzles, but my SQL skills don't improve a lot for a long time, Why? Because I was satisfied with the limited knowledge of insert, update, delete, and select.

 I knew how to join multiple tables, and I thought I knew the whole SQL. Well, I was wrong, and my misconception hit severely when I started working on a project involving Murex, which has a vast database in Sybase with hundreds of tables, stored procedures, and other database objects.

At that time, I started learning advanced SQL, particularly Sybase and SQL Server. My quest also results in lots of good books to learn SQL, database design, normalization, and improve your SQL query skills, and this article is a collection of such books.

Though I have a separate collection of database-specific books, like books, to learn SQL Server, Sybase, or Oracle, I am only sharing books to learn generic and standard SQL, which applies to all relational databases, also known as ANSI SQL in this article. I'll write separate articles about SQL Server and Oracle books.

If you want to learn quickly, you can also combine these books with some of the comprehensive and engaging online SQL courses like The Complete SQL Bootcamp by Jose Pottila on Udemy. It's an incredible course full of useful information and practical tips to learn and master SQL very quickly.

5 Best Books to learn SQL and Database for Beginners in 2023

It doesn't matter whether you are a beginner programmer, just started your software development career or an experienced software professional with years of experience, you will find some of the books refreshing. You will learn a lot in terms of SQL concepts, database design, and SQL query skills.

So, what are we waiting for? Let's start with this list.

1. Head First SQL

This is the best book for any SQL beginners. I like the Head First style for their innovative teaching with diagrams, fireside chats, puzzles, explanations, and highlight the most important concepts.

I have been recommending this book to beginner programmers for years, and they always thank me for that. You can use this book for theory, for example, and understanding fundamental concepts of SQL, like Joins, Subqueries, Normalization, and a little bit of database design.

If you are an active learner like me then you can also combine this book with The Complete SQL Bootcamp: Go From Zero To Hero course by Jose Pottila on Udemy which is full of hands-on SQL exercises and lectures. It's also very affordable and you can buy this course for just %9.9 on Udemy sales which happen every now and then.

The Best book to learn SQL

2. SQL Antipatterns

To be successful, it's not just essential to do the right things, but it is also necessary to avoid mistakes that can hamper your success. This universal truth is also applicable to SQL. It's just not enough to know all the best practices in the SQL world and keep repeating silly mistakes like using SELECT * query or having duplicate columns.

This book will help you to avoid the common mistake every SQL developer makes. If you don't know about SQL mistakes, it's also an excellent book to learn about them. Again, one of the must-read SQL books for programmers who are serious about improving their SQL and database design skills.

If you are learning SQL for data science then I also suggest you check out this SQL for Data Science course on Udemy which will teach you how to understand and write large queries which you often need while working with real-world data.

Best book to learn SQL design and schema

3. SQL Puzzles and Answers by Joe Celko

I didn't know about this book until last year, but ever since I come to know about it, I just fall in love. It's a great book to improve your SQL query skills. I always like to solve SQL query-based problems because they are also an excellent exercise for your mind, and this book is full of such issues.

The book is really advanced, and some of the problems are tough even for seasoned SQL programmers. Even though you will solve the problem, a good chance is that you will also learn a new way to answer the same question by reading explanations.

In short, one of the best SQL books for experienced programmers who want to improve their SQL query skills.

Good book to learn SQL Queries

4. Beginning SQL queries

This is another beginner book, probably for the absolute beginner who doesn't know how to write SQL queries. As the title suggests, this book will help you not only to write SQL queries but also to write correct SQL queries and help you to become a professional SQL developer. Not a must-read, but a good SQL book for beginners.

Beginners book to learn SQL queries

5. SQL Performance Explained by Markus Winand

If I say that whatever I know about SQL indexes is due to this book, then it won't be wrong. I had a lot of misconceptions about database indices and didn't know how their order can affect performance.

I didn't even know what is table scan, index scan is, and index seeks, and, in general, how does index works in SQL in detail until to learn how indexing work and how they affect query performance.

This is an excellent book from Markus Winand, and I thank him a lot for explaining such an essential topic in great detail. One of the must-read SQL books for every programmer.

Best book to learn SQL index and performance

That's all in this list about 5 great books to learn and master SQL. To be honest, it's easy to learn SQL, but it's tough to master it; that's why the last two books SQL Performance Explained and SQL Anti-Patterns are significant for both SQL developer and Java/C# developers who deal with databases and SQL.

Further Learning
Introduction to SQL
The Complete SQL Bootcamp
SQL for Newbs: Data Analysis for Beginners

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Thanks for reading this article so far. If you like these best SQL and Database books, then please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or feedback, then please drop a note.

P.S. - Along with books, online training courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Pluralsight are also useful to learn fundamentals and build skills. If you need some excellent classes to learn SQL and Database, I suggest you check this list of Top 5 SQL Courses for Programmers on HackerNoon to level up your SQL skill and learn new tricks to do well on your day-to-day job.

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