The datapine Blog
News, Insights and Advice for Getting your Data in Shape

Take Your SQL Skills To The Next Level With These Popular SQL Books

overview of the best sql books

It is time to make some room on your business intelligence bookshelf. Once again, datapine has books for you to add. We have already given you our top 12 data visualization books, top 8 business intelligence books and top 10 data analytics books. We are back at it with our top 9 SQL books.

Structured Query Language (SQL) is the most popular language used to create, access, manipulate, query and manage databases. The language was developed in the 1970’s. Since then, it has become the standard language used to communicate with various relational database management systems (RDMS), including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, PostgreSQL, Informix and MySQL.

Whether you are a programmer, data analyst or a business intelligence end user, SQL is an invaluable skill for anyone who deals with data. SQL isn’t just for database administrators (DBAs). Learning SQL is helpful for querying databases, operating Business Intelligence (BI) Tools and using these BI platforms’ advanced features. Having a basic understanding of SQL is beneficial even for those who don’t deal directly with a database. Business Intelligence software, such as datapine, offer intuitive drag and drop interfaces, allowing for data querying without any SQL knowledge. That said, knowing the SQL basics will help you understand your organization’s data and better generate actionable insights.

Exclusive Bonus Content: Get our SQL book checklist for free!
Download our complete list of the most popular SQL Books for free.

We have pulled together a list of our top SQL books. This list contains SQL books for beginners and more advanced users. So whether you are managing a SQL server, want to get past your basic SELECT statements or just want to know what is this SQL thing everybody keeps mentioning, there is something on this list for you.

SQL books for beginners

1) “Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes” By Ben Forta

SQL book "sams teach yourself self in 10 minutes by ben forta

You can’t have a list of the top SQL books without including Ben Forta’s best-selling SQL book “Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes.” Out of all the SQL books for beginners, this is a must-read. Ben Forta is an expert trainer and popular author. He looked at the existing SQL literature and saw a need for a SQL book not geared towards database analysts (DBAs). This book fills that need. As Forta put it, “The emphasis is on getting stuff done and getting it done quickly, helping you be productive as quickly as possible in whatever tool or environment you use.”

In other words, “Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes” teaches the parts of SQL you need to know: starting with simple data retrieval and quickly going on to more complex topics including the use of joins, subqueries, stored procedures, cursors, triggers and table constraints. The best part is you’ll learn SQL methodically, systematically and simply – in 22 short, quick lessons. Each lesson takes only 10 minutes or less to complete. Make sure you have a handle on the basics and check out this book.

2) “Learning SQL” By Alan Beaulieu

one of the best sql books: "learning sql" by alan beaulieu

Alan Beaulieu’s “Learning SQL” is another one of our top SQL books for beginners. With its real-world style writing, this introductory guide will get you up and running with SQL quickly. With this book, you will:

  • Move quickly through SQL basics and learn several advanced features
  • Use SQL data statements to generate, manipulate and retrieve data
  • Create database objects, such as tables, indexes and constraints, using SQL schema statements
  • Learn how data sets interact with queries and understand the importance of subqueries

Whether you need to write database applications, perform administrative tasks or generate reports, this book will help you easily master all the SQL fundamentals.

3) “SQL: The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Learn SQL Today” By Steve Tale

SQL: the ultimate beginner guide to learn sql today by steve tale

Steve Tale’s “SQL – The Ultimate Beginners Guide” is exactly as it sounds: a great book for beginners.

The SQL concepts are laid out in simple, concise language. Tale has also provided great examples and sample tables to further augment the concepts and instructions.

This book will serve as an essential guide for you, as a SQL beginner. In addition, the concepts of SQL are laid out in a simple, concise language and instructions to help you learn the steps properly.

4) “SQL: QuickStart Guide – The Simplified Beginner’s Guide To SQL” By ClydeBank Technology

SQL quick start guide: the simplified beginners guide to sql by clyde bank technology

If you head over to Amazon you will see great reviews for one of our favorite SQL guides for beginners. The “SQL: QuickStart Guide” strives to show readers how SQL actually works.

Through multiple step-by-step examples, the authors take readers from knowing absolutely nothing about SQL to being able to quickly retrieve and analyze data from multiple tables.

Moreover you will find many practical examples of common mistakes to avoid that beginners are prone to.

5) “Head First SQL” By Lynn Beighley

head first sql by lynn beighley

Lynn Beighley knows how to write about technical topics in an approachable way. Her book, “Head First SQL,” does just this. It’s visually rich format is designed for the way your brain works, not in a text-heavy approach that puts you to sleep.

This SQL book takes a fun approach to showing the fundamentals of SQL and how to really take advantage of the language. Whether you are brushing up on the basics or starting from scratch, this book is worth checking out. She wrote another great book about PHP and MySQL, too.

6) “SQL Queries for Mere Mortals” By John L. Viescas and Michael J. Hernandez

SQL queries for mere mortals by jon viescas and michael hernandez

With “SQL Queries for Mere Mortals” industry experts  John L. Viescas and Michael J. Hernandez wrote one of clearest and simplest tutorials on writing effective SQL queries. This hands-on classic guides readers through creating reliable queries for virtually any modern SQL-based database.

The authors demystify all aspects of SQL query writing from simple data selection and filtering to joining multiple tables and modifying sets of data. Whether you’re a DBA, developer, user or student, this book is a great way to master SQL.


Exclusive Bonus Content: Get our SQL book checklist for free!
Download our complete list of the most popular SQL Books for free.

Advanced SQL books

The six books listed above are great for beginners. They focus on the fundamentals and will get any reader off to a great SQL start. If you already have the basics down, there are several great books out there to take your SQL to the next step. If you are at this point, it is important to look into literature that fits your specific relational database management system (RDMS). While numerous core concepts transfer over, there will be differences between Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, etc. Three out of the four following books are not RDMS-specific.

7) “SQL Cookbook” By Anthony Molinaro

SQL cook book by anthony molinaro

The “SQL Cookbook” is for taking your SQL skills to the next level. If you know the rudiments of the SQL query language, yet you feel you aren’t taking full advantage of SQL’s expressive power, this book is for you.

In the “SQL Cookbook,” experienced SQL developer Anthony Molinaro shares his favorite SQL techniques and features.

Written in O’Reilly’s popular Problem / Solution / Discussion style, “The SQL Cookbook” moves quickly from problem to solution, saving you time each step of the way.

8) “SQL Database Programming” (2015 Edition) By Chris Fehily

SQL database programming by chris fehily

“SQL Database Programming” could also have been listed as an SQL book for beginners. The book does a great job of covering the basics. However, it also goes far beyond that. The book is great for various end users, analysts, data scientists and app developers.

Readers will find general concepts, practical answers and clear explanations of what the various SQL statements can do.

The book covers Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft Access. The all-encompassing nature of this book makes it a must for a data bookshelf.

9) “The Data Warehouse Toolkit” By Ralph Kimball and Margy Ross

the data warehouse tookit by ralph kimball and margy ross

Ralph Kimball and Margy Ross co-authored this third edition of Kimball’s classic guide to dimensional modeling. This book provides a complete collection of modeling techniques, beginning with fundamentals and gradually progressing through increasingly complex real-world case studies. It is a must-read for understanding data warehouse design. While this book is not specifically a SQL book, it will take your SQL understanding to the next level.

You don’t even have to know any SQL to appreciate this book. BI Consultant Dustin Ryan listed “The Data Warehouse Toolkit” as one of his top four books for the Business Intelligence Professional. He writes in regards to the book, “In my opinion this should be required reading for everyone working in the business intelligence field.”

Further Education

These books will get you off to a great start. However, your SQL education can go way past their pages. There are numerous great SQL resources out there. For example take a look at these great poadcasts.

Make sure to play around with your own organization’s data! If this makes your development team nervous, ask for a local copy of the database so you can play around without impacting the actual database. Getting your hands on real data that you can relate to is the best way to learn. 

Exclusive Bonus Content: Get our SQL book checklist for free!
Download our complete list of the most popular SQL Books for free.

Now start reading!

With these 9 SQL books in hand, you are your way to becoming a SQL master. Don’t want to become a SQL master? Not a problem. BI Tools, such as datapine, provide easy drag and drop interfaces that perform the SQL queries for you.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (63 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)