Posted by: camz | April 6, 2007

The Art of SQL

The Art of SQL About a month ago, Mark Zaugg handed me a copy of this book, he’d bought it but had not yet had the time to give it a read. It was a very interesting read, quite unlike any other book I have ever read on a technical subject. The author (Stéphane Faroult) has themed the book on the classic The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, and included many quotes and examples of a historical military nature. That might seem pretty odd for a technical book, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that it works.

The book does provide some tips and techniques that can be used to tune SQL queries and to solve some common problems in some pretty non-obvious ways. After you read this tomb you will be better at analysing, understanding, and tuning queries, and you will have some new and arcane skills with SQL, but that is not the primary benefit this book delivers. Mark had told me when he loaned me the book that he had heard it would make you “turn your head sideways to look at SQL”. He won’t understand just how accurate that statement was until he’s read the book.

The author shares his knowledge of SQL and relational theory in a way that is incredibly compelling. You finish each chapter with new insight into how and (more importantly) why different queries perform differently. The examples that are provided are realistic enough to make sense and it is very easy to recognize how the information, analysis, and techniques would apply to your own projects. I now understand significantly more about relational theory, SQL, and I have indeed learned how to look at SQL with my head sideways. The knowledge the book imparts goes beyond this as well, it discusses good design of the tables in a database, and it makes you think about the design of the databases you might already be using.

I will probably pick up a copy of this book for myself, even though I have now read it, it was impressive enough that I think it should have a home on my bookshelf.



  1. Aye Aye Captain!
    I totally agree. I read this book myself and I was blown away.
    This is not an average book explaining select statement or other simple concepts. It is for those who understand SQL but need opinion from other expert. One of the best book I ever read about Database Architecture.

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