I remember the earlier days of my struggle with Power BI especially DAX (when I was using it in Power Pivot). Gosh..those sleepless nights! I cried tears of blood to solve even rudimentary problems. In this post I am going to share with you the best books that I have read (and skimmed through) that helped me get a good grasp on Power BI.

When I say Power BI, I’d always mean the technical part of authoring the model using DAX and M Language. The books that I read were no particular order and I mostly skipped reading a book because I wasn’t able to understand the author or I needed a simpler more practical explanation to “what’s going on?”.

I am going to list the books in the order that I should have ideally read them as a novice in Power BI and will rate the book on 2 factors

  • Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • Diversity of practical (data and business) problems discussed in the book

 

#1 – Learn to Write DAX

by Matt Allington – If you were starting with Power BI and asked me just one book to read to get your head around DAX. I’d choose this one over any other. What I find incredible about the book is that

  1. Matt has used simple English to explain various concepts in DAX.
  2. He doesn’t leave you hanging with those concepts, there are exercises in every chapter to get hands on practice with the concepts.

My Rating

  • 4.5 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 2.5 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

The link above leads you to the second version of this book

 

#2 – DAX Formulas for Power Pivot

by Rob Collie – This doesn’t feel like another tech book, the learning are mixed with data humor, written in plain English to make the readers feel home. It’s a great pick if you are making a switch from an excel background to Power Pivot / Power BI. Additional Info, Rob also has a massive library of blogs written, especially on DAX.

My Rating

  • 4 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 3 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#3 – Power Pivot and Power BI

by Rob Collie and Avichal (Avi) Singh – This is a sequel to the book, DAX Formulas for Power Pivot. I’d say pretty much everything remains the same as I said before, just to add, since the book has some additional chapters on Power BI, I’d recommend this one over the previous one.

My Rating

  • 4 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 3 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#4 – Beginning DAX with Power BI

by Phil Seamark – This isn’t the book for everyone! But it’s awesome and advanced. Mainly written for SQL guys trying to get a hang of DAX Language. I’d recommend this only if you already have a good understanding of DAX and are looking for something more. The thing that I really like about this book is that Phil has wrapped some advanced concepts in plain jargon free language.. so much so that even non SQL guys (like me) can get a hang of it.

My Rating

  • 4.5 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 3 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#5 – Building Data Models with Power Pivot

by Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari – Come what may, when it comes to DAX, you can’t leave the Italians out of the discussion. I have on purpose put them in the end (sorry Marco and Alberto if you ever read this)

These guys are solid! But they are clearly not the beginners league. This book is one such example of their work. It covers Data Modeling + DAX + Slight bit of Visuals all explained using Power Pivot in Excel. I’d recommend you this once you have some working knowledge of DAX and Data Modeling.

My Rating

  • 3 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 4 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#6 – The Definitive Guide to DAX (V1 & V2)

by Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari – These 2 books are the most comprehensive guides available on DAX in the market. Since V2 is upgraded, I’d suggest that over V1. The book is very thorough in explaining various nuances of DAX and this isn’t your next fiction book so one reading isn’t going to cut it. I personally revisit this book repeatedly and learn something new each time. If you new to DAX, I’d strongly recommend not to get near this!

My Rating

  • 2.5 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 4.5 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

A few Other DAX Books

I am also going to mention some other DAX books that I haven’t laid my hands on (or have just skimmed through them) but find them credible enough to make it to my favorite Power BI book list.

  1. Super Charge Power BI (Matt Allington) – I haven’t read it but for the fact that I have read the first one from Matt, and it mostly covers the same DAX concepts + some additional Power BI stuff. I’d give this book also a lot of credibility, you are likely to find same smoothness of explanation in this book too.
  2. DAX Patterns (Marco and Alberto) – This is a highly practical cookbook for solutions to commonly faced number crunching problems while using Power BI. Although I haven’t read the full book but I have learnt from several DAX patterns from their blog. In short, if you are looking for practical cases to solve using DAX, this is Gold.
  3. Power BI Rookie to RockStar (Reza Rad) – This is the collection of his Blog Posts on Power Query, DAX / Data Modeling and even on Power BI publishing architecture. His writings are simple and to the point, trying to explain concepts that a layman would understand. I haven’t read this entirely but have learnt plenty nifty tips and tricks in Power BI.

 

Here are a few of my favorite Power Query Books

#1 – M for Data Monkey

by Ken Puls – This is one of the first and best books that I have read on the Power Query. If I am not mistaken this was also one of the first books out on Power Query. In this book, Ken slowly builds context of learning Power Query and uses practical examples to teach throughout the book.

Some of the advanced learning in the book might seem a bit boring but they are highly relevant when you start working with Power Query in Depth and you’ll feel the need to come back to the book. I’d highly recommend reading this

My Rating

  • 4.5 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 4 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#2 – Power Query for Power BI and Excel

by Chris Webb – This book covers slightly more advanced concepts than Ken’s book. Also the style of writing is technical rather than conversational English. The book covers fewer but interesting topics on Web Scraping, M Language working with Data Directories, Query Folding etc. No doubt, it’s a good book but I’d only recommend this book if have the appetite to stay awake when it gets technical :p

My Rating

  • 3 / 5 – Breaking down complex concepts in simple to understand language
  • 3 / 5 – Diversity of practical (data and business) problems

 

#3 My Course on Power Query

Side note about my course on Power Query, it’s self paced online curriculum to help you learn Power Query in a structured way. I have got plenty of relevant examples to explain various tools, features and nuances of Power Query. You can see the detailed course outline here, I’d highly recommend it if you prefer video learning over reading books.

 

Other Books on Power Query

  1. M Reference (Microsoft) -This is a reference guide from Microsoft penning down all the M functions, their Syntax and brief examples. You wouldn’t read this as a starter but you cannot choose not to read this if you actively work on M. The book is completely technical but serves a good reference to understand technical explanation of M functions. Highly recommended it for folks actively working on M
  2. Collect, Combine, and Transform Data Using Power Query in Excel and Power BI (Gil Raviv) – I have heard good reviews about this book but I haven’t read it myself so can’t really give you my opinion.

 

Now I am sure there are a ton of great books out there which I haven’t covered in my tiny list here, but these were the books that initially helped me get started with Power BI (especially with DAX and M). If there is a book on Power BI that you love, please share it in the comments. I’d love everyone to gain the best from each other. Comments are open!

Also I have NO affiliation to authors / books / publishers mentioned above and I don’t make a dime recommending you these books. I did it because they were awesome! Simple

Cheers



Topics that I write about...






Download Smart Ebooks on
Excel and Power BI