What SQL Server Books Do You Recommend

  • Brad McGehee

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5272

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item What SQL Server Books Do You Recommend

    Brad M. McGehee
    DBA

  • George Hepworth

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1249

    You left out of your list what I am beginning to think is one of the biggest impediments to writing and publishing technical books, although it is tangentially related to one of your points, lack of remuneration. I think theft of Intellectual Property is a big and growing threat to publishing technical books. There are pirate sites out there (and you don't have to search long to find them), offering downloadable PDF's of most good technical books. Case in point is my little book on Access (no boos, please, that's not really the point). It was never a big seller, maybe 3,000 copies in six years, but even that little book is available now, as a pirated download on at least two sites I've found. I mean, why would the thieves even bother with something that obscure? But there it is. And no, I won't tell you where to go to get it. 😀

    If the publishing industry can't get it's arms around this problem, it's hard to see why anyone would invest hundreds of hours of time to create any technical manual, knowing that within months, or even weeks, it's going to be stolen and given away to anyone who wants to make the effort to find it.

    I wish I were wrong, but my gut tells me otherwise.

    George Hepworth

  • Brad McGehee

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5272

    George Hepworth (8/7/2011)


    You left out of your list what I am beginning to think is one of the biggest impediments to writing and publishing technical books, although it is tangentially related to one of your points, lack of remuneration. I think theft of Intellectual Property is a big and growing threat to publishing technical books. There are pirate sites out there (and you don't have to search long to find them), offering downloadable PDF's of most good technical books. Case in point is my little book on Access (no boos, please, that's not really the point). It was never a big seller, maybe 3,000 copies in six years, but even that little book is available now, as a pirated download on at least two sites I've found. I mean, why would the thieves even bother with something that obscure? But there it is. And no, I won't tell you where to go to get it. 😀

    If the publishing industry can't get it's arms around this problem, it's hard to see why anyone would invest hundreds of hours of time to create any technical manual, knowing that within months, or even weeks, it's going to be stolen and given away to anyone who wants to make the effort to find it.

    I wish I were wrong, but my gut tells me otherwise.

    George Hepworth

    I actually intended to include the theft of intellectual property in my list, but I forgot. Thanks for reminding me.

    Brad M. McGehee
    DBA

  • TomThomson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 104763

    I don't recommend any books on Sql Server; I don't think I've ever read one, and it wouldn't be ethical to recommend something I've never read. There are several reasons why I haven't read such books (not listed in order of importance, by any means):

    1) I was reasonably fluent in SQL and relational algebra and relational theory a long time before SQL Server existed. I had had technical control of the design and implementation of a relational calculus based language (big research project) which was actually declarative (except for the transaction construct), had collaborated with Oracle and worked with Ingres and with Postgres, and had worked with a consortium of European companies on proposals for enhancements to SQL, before my first contact with SQL Server.

    2) The concepts and good practises of administration (ensuring reliability, security, recoverability, adequate performance) are mostly independent of the particular dbms system, so I didn't see any reason to read a book as opposed to consulting the excellent reference material provided as BoL (and other bits of the MSDN library).

    3) I prefer reading the sort of material I used to find in research reports from various companies and universities, in Sigmod conference proceedings (and VLDB, and others) and in journals like ACM ToDS to reading the sort of rubbish that finds its way into most text books, whether vendor/platform spacific or generic.

    4) Text books were/are a silly price, unless one steals them (which would be against my principles). This is I think caused by (a) very low sales volumes (compared with pulp fiction, fo example) and (b) very rapacious publishers ((b) is also a significant cause of high piracy levels and lousey author remuneration).

    5) I found that SQL Server, apart from bizarre idiocy here and there (much of that inherited from the SQL standard, which is in some ways an appalling mess) was quite sane and rational in its design and user interfaces, it was easy to build a mental model of what it did and how it did it that would enable one to get by without too much time checking the reference material.

    6) When caught by the absence of information in MSDN (frighteningly frequent) I found that there was plenty of information on the web, some of it was actually correct, and the incorrect stuff was usually easy to spot (usually, not always - which is, unfortunately, inevitable; actually the general standard is about the same as the general standard for textbooks).

    7) I had found other database textbooks painful; some were offensively inaccurate; some were putting more effort into grinding axes (conveying author prejudices) than conveying useful information; some had clearly suffered no proof reading, or perhaps proof reading by people who neither knew the subject nor spoke English (this was an amazing contrast to maths textbooks, which tended to be far better proofed); some were grinding commercial axes (designed to boost one DBMS product and malign others); and most appeared to be aimed at cramming low-value short-life transient information about the vagaries of a particular releas of a particular product, rather than explaining the ideas behind the product and how to use it to best effect. So I expected SQL Server text books to be the same, and never read any.

    I think reasons 2,4,5,6, and 7 probably apply to most people (1 or something analagous applies to a lucky few, of which I am fortunate to be one; and 3 is purely a matter of personal taste). And for me, these reasons have over-ridden my preference for a real paper book that I can read curled up in an armchair or streched out on the grass or on a bed or in a bath (even though I still buy real paper books on maths, and physics, and languages, and dictionaries, and music, and pretty much everything else: just not database textbooks) when something strike my fancy.

    Tom

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 994284

    I was in the middle of a huge rant on books but see that George and Tom covered some good amount of what I had to say on this subject. Anything I might add would be more of an ad hominem attack on the attitudes I perceive most SQL Server or SQL authors to have, so I'll just let all of that go.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column.
    "If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."--Red Adair
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not."
    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • sherifffruitfly

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1198

    Wouldn't another factor in the lessening of books on sql be that it's a mature technology, which hasn't changed all that much in 30 years?

    I mean really, select-from-where-groupby is the bulk of it. Sure there's a jillion fine points like clustering, replication, and what-not. And numerous incremental sexy additions like merge, etc.. But the bulk of what's needed for day-to-day work can be perfectly well picked up from a sql book 30 years old, and a month or two of hands-on cussing.

    Just one factor among several, I would think.

  • ChrisTaylor

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4516

    As previously stated i'm not a big fan of books, not necessarily due to their inaccuracies at times or because i know that subject well enough to not have to have a book on it, but purely because i don't like having to carry more than i need to around with me as i spend a lot of time travelling.

    I can't discount books like others have said purely on their inaccuracies because not everyone is perfect and even microsoft get it wrong - take BOL as an example, there's been many a time when they've got it wrong and later changed what was printed.

    The only book i have bought recently is Glenn Berry's SQL Server Hardware and so far a lot of it is confirmation of what i already knew but i have leant a few things, even just simple things like what model numbers of the processor families actually mean, for me this has made it worth the £13 i paid for it.

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    SQLGeordie

    Web:- Jarrin Consultancy
    Blog:- www.chrisjarrintaylor.co.uk
    Twitter:- @SQLGeordie

  • call.copse

    SSCoach

    Points: 16770

    For me a book is very good if you want something to take you all the way through a subject. For this you accept whatever slant is applied to the material by the author.

    This is fine but rarely (now I have a fair bit of experience) do I want to be taken all the way through a subject. I might be interested in a chapter or more likely a few pages of a book or a particular technique. Does this mean I have lost the focus required to go through a book on a whole subject? Well, no I hope, however it is just not relevant to my job where I know most of what I want to accomplish, but extend my reach a little bit. The bite size chunks of teh interwebz are sadly mostly exactly what I need.

    In summary, books are just not relevant to what I need to do with databases.

  • dUros

    Default port

    Points: 1446

    Definitely recommend this book (Defensive Database Programming) to anyone. I think that book is for begginers and for professionals :-). Also I recommend a set of seven "The Best Off SQLservercentral.com" books.

    For All begginers also I recommend monitoring sqlservercentral.com forum and articles, is more informative than books.

    For my 25 years of SQL practice I must say that sqlservercentral.com is the best source of SQL knowledge of sql servers and programming sql.

  • Arun Benjamin

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1614

    I would always recommend the "Inside SQL" series books.. though it is not intended to be for the beginner, it still helps to understand many topics related to SQL server theoretically.

  • LisaGB

    Old Hand

    Points: 310

    Hello!

    I 'was' a Coldfusion programmer - at some point about two years ago I realized I was having CF do things for me that the back end database would have done much better and faster. So, I started trying to learn more about SQL Server and use it for what it's meant to do (instead of hacking the front end app because I didn't know how to do it in the database!)

    I started doing a lot of web searching and learned some very interesting things.

    I have taken a couple of online courses through a local community college, which have been also interesting and taught me some things I hadn't stumbled upon in my various web searches. However, I was very disappointed by the text in my 'general' SQL Server class (covering transact-SQL). There was one 'technique', in particular, that was covered under sub-queries that I could NOT wrap my head around by reading the textbook. (I don't remember exactly what it was.) It was a technique that didn't offer very good performance, so it was very difficult to find information about it on Google. I finally stumbled upon it after a couple of hours of searching, and the web information allowed me to understand the concept enough to finish the homework. I also left a note to the professor that I realized that the query didn't totally reflect the textbook, but that I really couldn't understand from the textbook. I also commented the query and left a link to the page that I found that explained the concept.

    So, I was stuck buying and using what I considered a less-than-adequate textbook. Fortunately, I didn't pay the $60 book price through the college's book store - I purchased it as an eBook for maybe $15.

    A friend recommended sqlservercentral.com and that has, by far, been the best learning tool. Thanks, everybody 😉

    I have since been hired as an "almost DBA" - i.e. the company can't afford an actual DBA, but wanted to find someone with some experience and some desire to learn how to BE a DBA. sqlservercentral.com and web searches have helped me so much, but I know there are things I should be learning about and starting to implement that I don't even KNOW I should be doing 🙁 That is where, I think, a great book would come into play.

    I'm not much of a blogger, but I've considered starting one and capturing my journey to becoming a DBA, in hopes that it may be a good reference to other newbies. Maybe if I get ambitious and do so (and do it well), I could turn it into a book at some time! 😎

    Thanks again, everyone here. You are a wonderful resource for the community!

  • lrobbins

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 111

    I highly recommend subscribing to the SQLServerCentral.com lists. Just skim the e-mail for anything new you want to learn about. If it has nothing, delete it. If it's something interested, either save it to read later, or read into it then!

    Your Microsoft white papers are always going to be a great source to learn from. However, coupling the reads with sheer experience and hands-on "lab tests" are going to really teach you.

    I am currently reading SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled (Expert's Voice in SQL Server) by Grant Fritchney. It's a pretty good read in regards to server administration for database servers. I would highly recommend watching his webcast at http://www.sqlservercentral.com/Training/ first though. It's titled #6: Gathering and Interpreting Server Metrics. This will give you an idea of what to take/not take from his book.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 994284

    lrobbins (8/8/2011)


    I highly recommend subscribing to the SQLServerCentral.com lists. Just skim the e-mail for anything new you want to learn about. If it has nothing, delete it. If it's something interested, either save it to read later, or read into it then!

    Your Microsoft white papers are always going to be a great source to learn from. However, coupling the reads with sheer experience and hands-on "lab tests" are going to really teach you.

    I am currently reading SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled (Expert's Voice in SQL Server) by Grant Fritchney. It's a pretty good read in regards to server administration for database servers. I would highly recommend watching his webcast at http://www.sqlservercentral.com/Training/ first though. It's titled #6: Gathering and Interpreting Server Metrics. This will give you an idea of what to take/not take from his book.

    I've read both books that Grant has written on the subject. If you really want to know what to look for during performance tuning and some outstanding suggestions on how to make your code run faster, either book is an absolute "must read".

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column.
    "If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."--Red Adair
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not."
    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • cognitivebi

    Grasshopper

    Points: 16

    George Hepworth (8/7/2011)


    I think theft of Intellectual Property is a big and growing threat to publishing technical books.

    George Hepworth

    I've talked to authors at SQL events who said their book was the hardest working months of 'lost revenue' in their lives. They work to write good material and within days of it being published, it gets pirated.

    But I still like and buy good books. Looking at my bookshelf reveals another pattern: Specialization.

    SQL has become such a large integrated package it takes multiple books to cover all areas. Among my recent books, I have Itzik Ben-Gan's 'Inside SQL Server 2008 T-SQL Querying' and Bryan Smith's 'SQL Server 2008 MDX'. Other specialty books on my shelf are the Wrox 'Professional' series including SSIS, SSAS and SSRS.

    Allen Smith

    GHT Data Consulting

    http://www.ghtdata.com/

    Allen Smith
    GHT Data Consulting
    http://www.ghtdata.com/

  • Steven.Howes

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6210

    I don't usually recommend books as none of my co-workers want anything to do with SQL. That being said I know when i look for books I pretty much go by author reputation. I have Grant's Query Performance book, I'll buy anything by Kalen delaney, Paul Randal or Kimberly Tripp, Itzak ben Gan, Lynn Langit, Joe Sack (I'm not sure if he writes anymore). If I know of the author chances are I follow thier blog and like thier writing style. Most of the books I buy are pretty specialized. I've just picked up Aln hirts Failover Cluster book, General books about SQL are a hard sell for me, I don't need a(nother) book that tells me about CRUD (unless it provides a hideous level of deep details).

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