Books are usually meant to be read in an analogue fashion. Start at page one and keep on going until the book is done. Some people take an early peek at the end of mysteries to see how they turn out, but isn’t that cheating? In today’s digital world, it isn’t easy – at least for me – to stick with a book when there are so many others on my smartphone just waiting to be read.
Back when I was first learning about programming logic and databases, I would read books on the topics from cover to cover. I remember buying Visual Basic 4 and MS Access in the mid-nineties. They each arrived in a good-sized box with a bunch of installation floppy disks and several books. I probably typed in every single example from those books (and others) to enhance my learning.
Today, it is much different. I don’t buy tech books quite as much, and when I do, I often only read parts of them to answer specific questions. For example, I was recently reviewing an article for Simple Talk, and something didn’t sound exactly right. Even though “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals” (Microsoft Press 2013) by Kalen Delaney (@sqlqueen) is a bit out of date, my question involved one of the basics of log files. No one is better than Kalen when it comes to explaining how SQL Server works, so I pulled out the book to see what she had to say. I wish I could claim that I’ve read that book cover-to-cover, but it does always come in handy for things that haven’t changed since it was written.
When I write a book myself, I write it believing that the readers will read the book in order. One chapter builds on the previous one, and you need to know what came before to understand the current chapter. Maybe reading from front to back is still true for beginners, but I bet that readers of my “Expert T-SQL Window Functions in SQL Server 2019” (Apress 2019) skip around as much as I do.
I recently started reading “Learn T-SQL Querying” (Packt Publishing, 2019) by Pedro Lopes (@sqlpedro) and Pam Lahoud (@sqlgoddess). I intend to take my time with this one and read the entire book. It isn’t just syntax and examples; this book is more about internals and performance. In case you didn’t know, Pedro is a Principal Program Manager, and Pam is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. They are building SQL Server!
Reading is one of the great pleasures of life, whether the book is about an exciting adventure or about an exciting database.