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The Best Database Books You Should Read Now

Updated on: April 26, 2024

So, you're interested in databases and looking for some database book recommendations. In this article, we’ll take a look at our top database book recommendations to feed your brain.

In essence, databases are like digital filing cabinets. They have the ability to organize, store, and retrieve data. Large amounts of data are stored, managed, and made easily accessible by using databases.

Additionally, databases make it possible for data to be organized into tables, which makes searching and sorting easier. In many different industries, databases are used as a quick way to access and manipulate data.

To communicate with these databases, we must be able to speak their language. For relational databases that language is SQL.

Interested in learning SQL? The good news is that we have a course for you, no matter your level. If you're a complete beginner check out our SQL Basics course. Intermediate users should check out our SQL Practice track, and seasoned IT professionals should check out our Advanced SQL track.

How Did Databases Come About?

Databases first appeared in the 1960s and they have been evolving ever since. They were developed with the intention of simplifying access to and management of massive amounts of data. Users could find, store, and edit data quickly – thanks to databases.

However, the first databases came with drawbacks; one huge issue was their inflexibility. In response to this issue, Edgar Frank Codd, an English mathematician and computer scientist, created the relational database.

Relational databases gained popularity quickly. This prompted the development of SQL (Structured Query Language), a simple language for interacting with relational databases. To this day, SQL is one of the most in-demand programming languages. Having this tool in your toolbox opens up a plethora of job opportunities.

Getting a grip on SQL can really up your game when it comes to working with databases. It's pretty much the go-to language for querying and handling all sorts of database systems. Once you get the hang of it, you'll see just how powerful it can be for managing the data you need

If you’re interested in learning more about the evolution and development of databases, be sure to check out our article 51 Years of Relational Databases for more information.

Why Are Books a Good Way to Learn About Databases?

Now that you're interested, what is the best way to learn more about databases? Let's look at some reasons below why books are a fantastic tool for getting you up to speed.

1. Thorough Overview of Concepts

Books can provide a solid and thorough overview of databases. They cover topics like the various kinds of databases that are available, the data models that are used, and the elements of databases. In comparison to other methods, books provide more in-depth explanations, meaning that you will get a deeper comprehension of database concepts.

2. Illustrations, Examples, and Diagrams

Books frequently include practical diagrams, charts, and examples to clarify ideas and give context to the subjects being covered. Understanding what a database is and how it works is easier to follow and remember when you have some imagery.

3. Easily Accessible and Reasonably Priced

Learning about databases can be done easily and affordably by reading books. Books are readily available from bookstores, online, and even by borrowing from the library. If you fancy obtaining this information on the go in the form of audiobooks, be sure to check out our Top 5 SQL Audiobooks.

4. Job Specific

Books that focus on a particular profession are helpful because they provide readers with in-depth, up-to-date knowledge of that profession. They can offer valuable career advice, such as tips on how to advance in a particular position, or they can assist people in finding their ideal job. They can also help readers gain a better understanding of market trends, wage scales, and employment opportunities. For example, if you are considering a career as a data engineer, be sure to look at The Best Books for Data Engineers.

Our 8 Top Database Book Recommendations

We've put together a list of our top database book picks. To make it simple for you to choose, we'll provide some background information on each book and share what you can expect from reading it.

1. Database Systems: The Complete Book by Hector Garcia-Molina, Jeffrey D. Ullman, and Jennifer Widom

Best Database Books

This introduction to database systems, written by renowned computer scientists, takes a thorough approach. It focuses on database design and use and the implementation of database applications and database management systems.

This is a comprehensive and widely-used textbook that covers all aspects of database systems, including data modeling, database design, query languages, and transaction processing.

2. Database Internals: A Deep Dive into How Distributed Data Systems Work by Alex Petrov

Best Database Books

Understanding a database's internal workings is crucial for choosing, utilizing, and maintaining it. However, there are now so many distributed databases and tools that it can be challenging to understand what they each offer and how they differ. Alex Petrov walks developers through the ideas underlying contemporary databases and storage engine internals in this useful guide.

This book provides a comprehensive guide to how distributed data systems work. It covers topics such as data storage, query processing, and transactions.

3. Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems by Martin Kleppmann

Best Database Books

In this practical and comprehensive guide, author Martin Kleppmann examines the benefits and drawbacks of various technologies for processing and storing data. Although software is constantly evolving, the underlying concepts never change.

This book provides a comprehensive guide to designing and building data-intensive applications. It covers topics such as data modeling, data storage, and data processing. It also provides practical advice on how to design and implement reliable, scalable, and maintainable systems.

4. MySQL Crash Course: A Hands-on Introduction to Database Development by Rick Silva

Best Database Books

This book provides a quick-paced, straightforward introduction to relational database development. It is stuffed with real-world examples, practical tasks, and professional advice that will get you up and running in no time.

You’ll learn the fundamentals of SQL, building databases, writing SQL queries to extract data, and working with events, procedures, and functions. This book also covers using indexes to speed up data retrieval and adding constraints to tables to enforce rules about permitted data.

Some time ago my friend Jakub interviewed Rick Silva, who’s a pretty cool guy. Spoiler alert: In addition to MySQL, they also talk about playing the banjo!

5. Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John W. Foreman 

Best Database Books

Author and data scientist John Foreman demonstrates a simple procedure for transforming raw data into knowledge that can be put to use – minus the jargon – through this book.

He delivers an introduction to data science and how it can be used to analyze and understand business data. The book covers a range of techniques (including regression analysis, decision trees, and clustering) and provides practical examples and case studies.

6. Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration to Analytics by Rick Sherman

This book provides a practical guide to building a Business Intelligence (BI) system, which involves integrating data from multiple sources and analyzing it to gain insights. It covers topics such as data modeling, data integration, and data visualization; it also provides practical advice on how to design and implement a successful BI system.

7. Data Modeling Essentials by Graeme Simsion and Graham Witt

Best Database Books

The foundations of data modeling are covered in this book, but there’s an emphasis on technique development rather than rote memorization of "the rules." The book analyzes the merits of various potential solutions and employs language and diagramming strategies that reflect industry practices to address the realities of developing systems in real-world situations.

Data modeling is a crucial component of database design, and this book offers a useful introduction to it. Entity-relationship modeling, normalization, and database design patterns are all covered in detail.

8. Database Design for Mere Mortals by Michael J. Hernandez

This book demonstrates how to create contemporary databases that are well-structured, dependable, and adaptable—even for the newest online applications. Planning, defining tables, fields, keys, table relationships, business rules, and views are all things Michael Hernandez walks you through.

All database design concepts are explained in a non-technical, jargon-free way. It is aimed at beginners and covers all the essential topics, including data modeling, normalization, and database design principles.

9. Database Design for Mere Mortals by Michael J. Hernandez

Best Database Books

What really sets this book apart for me is how hands-on it is. It’s not just about dry theory; it actually shows you how to put those concepts to work in real-world scenarios. Whether you’re just starting out with databases or you’ve been in the game for a while, there’s something in it for everyone. It’s also bang up-to-date with the latest on Big Data Analytics and NoSQL, so you know you’re getting the latest insights.

But the thing I love the most about 'Database Systems' is how it manages to inspire. This isn’t just a textbook—it’s a gateway to new possibilities. It’s perfect for students, professionals, or anyone just curious about the inner workings of databases.

Choose Your Favorite Database Book and Start Learning

So, there you have it – our list of the best database books to get you started on your learning journey. Many of our recommendations also come in a variety of formats. Whether you like to listen through audio while on the go or simply read from your tablet, you are spoilt for choice!

If you want to learn more about SQL after reading these database books, be sure to check our article The Best SQL Books for more recommendations.