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The 10 Best SQL Books

SQL, Lisp and Haskell are the only Programming Languages that I’ve seen where one spends more Time in Thinking than Typing. – Philip Greenspun

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It is the conventional language for dealing with relational databases. SQL serves as a programming language whose prime objective is to search, delete, insert and update database records. Think of it in this way. Your activity on social media, like a post which you might have uploaded, is stored in a virtual space, aka, database. In order to communicate with that database, SQL comes to our rescue. While there is no dearth of resources on this topic, getting hold of the best SQL books can be immensely beneficial in acquiring in-depth understanding of the subject. These are some of the best books to learn SQL from and they can certainly be your dependable companions.

In this blog, we have prepared a carefully curated list of 10 best books for learning SQL. This list of SQL books is by no means comprehensive, but does in include some of the best SQL books for beginners as well as best SQL books for those at the intermediate and advanced level.

Getting Started with SQL

  • Author: Thomas Field
  • This is considered to be one of the useful SQL books for beginners, especially if you are looking for a text which can provide you with a basic grounding in the discipline.
  • It s true that the book is relatively short and may not take you for a detailed tour of the subject matter; however, it does help its readers to understand the fundamental concepts.
  • Unlike some of the difficult-to-comprehend SQL books, this one is written in lucid languages, loaded with useful explanations and easy examples, which render the task of understanding easier.
  • In terms of guiding you on acquiring practical experience, the book provides a detailed explanation on the procedure for setting up a practice environment at home through SQLite.
  • While this is definitely one of the beginner focussed books to learn SQL, the concluding parts of the text does give you a sneak-peak into more advanced topics.
Getting Started with SQL

SQL All-in-One for Dummies

  • Author: Allen G. Taylor
  • This is one of the bestselling, most popular and best SQL books for beginners. In fact, it is considered by many to be a must-read for anyone working with databases.
  • Besides helping its readers to understand SQL basics, it helps them to make sense of how to use it for building relational databases.
  • The book is a weighty and an extensive read which covers a broad range of topics, such as data security, importance of RDBMS, performance tuning, JSON and XML, implementing a database design and consequently retrieving information from a database.
  • The book is available in paperback as well as in Kindle and comes with code downloads made available by the publisher.
SQL All-in-One for Dummies

Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes

  • Author: Ben Fort
  • This is one of those rare gems among SQL books which is counted among the best SQL books for beginners as well as is quite often laid hands on by programmers and professional engineers.
  • Filled with full color code examples, the book helps you get a sense of how SQL statements are structured.
  • As one of the best SQL books, it covers important topics like retrieval, sorting and formatting of database content; usage of SQL statements; insertion, modification and deletion of data; joining of multiple related tables and so on.
  • The book provides different examples in various databases, which includes Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 on Cloud, Postgre SQL.
  • The book is well structured, comprehensible and is written in simple language.
Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes

Learning SQL

  • Author: Alan Beaulieu
  • This can be considered to be one of the best books for learning SQL, which happens to cover topics, right from the basic to the advanced level.
  • With the help of annotated examples and lively illustrations, the book teaches you some of the fundamental SQL concepts.
  • It is a useful book to learn SQL as it teaches you the interaction of dataset with queries and help you understand the importance of subqueries.
  • Some of the important topics included in the book includes: lessons on creation of database objects, on the usage of conditional logic in data statements, instructions on generation, manipulation and retrieval of data through SQL data statements; as well as on data manipulation and conversion through SQL functions.
Learning SQL

SQL Pocket Guide

  • Author: Jonathan Gennick
  • This can be counted as one of the best books on SQL at the intermediate level.
  • This serves as a useful SQL book which seeks to cover in detail every possible argument and command through emphasizing on an array of database servers.
  • Some of the important topics covered in the book, are different SQL functions, type conversion functions and regular expression syntax.
  • Additionally, it covers the addition of PIVOT and UNPIVOT operators as well as Oracle?s support of the recursive with syntax.
  • Instead of being one of those regular books to learn SQL from; this text servers more as a reference or consultation book which comes to your rescue in case of any issue.
SQL Pocket Guide

SQL Practice Problems

  • Author: Sylvia Moestl Vasilik
  • This is one of those SQL books which is more likely to be suitable for individuals at the intermediate to advanced levels. It can be seen in the form of a refresher course which brushes up your existing knowledge, introduces you to more advanced problems as well as advances your understanding of the topic.
  • The book is not in the form of a step by step tutorial which will introduce you to the world of SQL. Instead, this is one of those MY SQL Books which directly launches you into the working mode by directing you to solve some real-world problems. This can be extremely useful in improving your ability of writing SQL code.
  • This book is more in the form of an activity book which is suitable for professionals having basic understanding of selection, insertion and deletion of queries.
  • This can be considered to be one of the best SQL books for SQL developers. Moreover, as you seek to solve the problems mentioned in the book, you will only be goaded to lay your hands on other online resources which would help you in developing a better understanding of SQL concepts.
SQL Practice Problems

SQL Queries for Mere Mortals

  • Author: John Viescas
  • This counts among one of the important and useful SQL books for beginners as well as is one of those SQL books which has something to offer to those with experience in SQL as well.
  • One of the most important attributes of this text is its contribution in terms of teaching its readers the technique of creating complicated and yet reliable queries.
  • What earns this text the status of being one of the best books on SQL is the approach which the author adopts in explaining SQL concepts, strategies as well as best practices for database queries; which is done in an extremely simple and easy to understand manner.
  • The text covers some of the most recent topics like creation scripts, sample databases as well as grouping and partitioning for MySQL, Microsoft Access and SQL Server.
  • Consequently, you learn the techniques of comprehending relational databases, constructing expressions with SELECT statement, using WHERE for filtering data and ORDER BY for organising information.
  • Additionally, you do learn to group and summarise data, pull data from different tables as well as revise data sets with INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE statements.
SQL Queries for Mere Mortals

T-SQL Fundamentals

  • Author: Itzik Ben-Gan
  • This can be considered to be one of the best books for learning SQL at the intermediate as well as at the advanced level.
  • It is useful for those new to the language as well as covers more advanced topics. It can be counted among one of those SQL books which is useful for power users, administrators as well as programmers.
  • The text is not a dry read filled with commands and syntax. On the contrary, it introduces its readers to the practical usage of T-SQL.
  • Moreover, the code samples are credible, having been tested against on-premise as well as cloud installations of SQL Server.
T-SQL Fundamentals

SQL Performance Explained

  • Author: Markus Winand
  • This is more of a technical read and is often considered to be one of the quintessential and best SQL books for Data Scientists, Programmers and Developers.
  • The author seems to be single-mindedly concerned with improving the performance of your queries and he does explain each solution in a precise manner.
  • As one of those important books to learn SQL from, the text seeks to sharpen your proficiency at clustering, indexing, scanning and other such related concepts.
  • The book covers a wide range of topics, including: usage of databases for running SQL queries, working of indexes in the course of updating and exploring records, usage of LIKE queries, application of SQL functions and data clustering.
  • Additionally, you develop a fair idea of pagination queries, database scalability, join operations, implementation of ORDER BY and GROUP BY and so on.
SQL Performance Explained

SQL Cookbook: Query Solutions and Techniques for Database Developers

  • Author: Anthony Molinaro
  • This is considered to be one of the best SQL books for beginners as well as for those at the experienced level as it covers some of the basic as well as more refined and advanced topics.
  • The text covers some important topics, including: creation of histograms, Window functions, generation of running totals and subtotals, pivoting rows into columns, reverse-pivoting and so on.
  • It can be looked at as one of those SQL books which proceeds with an underlying assumption that the reader does have some basic understanding of SQL. Accordingly, it focusses on complex queries, on ways to improve the performance of your queries, data preparation and manipulation as well as reporting.
  • The book introduces you to certain database specific features such as MODEL clause of Oracle, PIVOT and UNPIVOT operators of SQL, as well as GENERATE_SERIES function of PostgreSQL.
  • As one of the highly recommended and best books on SQL, the text convinces its readers of the immense potential of SQL as a language and the ways to tap the same.
SQL Cookbook: Query Solutions and Techniques for Database Developers


SQL is one of the predominant language for dealing with Relational Databases. Moreover, the demand for individuals proficient in dealing with databases has been increasing by leaps and bounds over the years. Given so, there are definitely ample opportunities available for SQL developers. The given list of SQL books is just a tip of the iceberg. There are many more good books available on this topic. However, what is important is to have a comprehensive understanding of the topic along with the realization that SQL has much more to offer than what is commonly understood.

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