5 Books You Might Not Have in your Tableau Analyst Library (Yet)

I’m making a dedicated library in my house. For years, books lived wherever they could fit, but this time, in addition to tweaking my home to be interactive, I’m going retro with style. Oh yes, the books get shelves, where playing tetris will become optional.  Which means books won’t be lodged into windowsills, desk structures, or all throughout the house.  It also means I won’t spend hours stacking books by size, so I can fit them all in.  Nope, they be organized by topic (such a novel idea)!  And, it also means I’ve been able to take all the books I use for work and organize them in their own little space.

Now, there’s loads of posts recommending the books du jour for dashboards, design, and everything else.  This is not that post, kids.  In fact, in all your book-buying rage, I’m betting these ones may have been missed.  For now.

Since there’s no better gifts than food and books, I’m pleased to offer you one half of this equation.  I may or may not have eaten the other half…sorry kids!  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Head First Data Analysis (or, better phrased, any book from this line)

I love this series.  Chock full of pictures, casual funny phrasing, and numerous places to participate, you will learn what this book teaches.  This line has everything from PHP, Design Patterns, and JavaScript to SQL, PMP, and WordPress.  Just don’t ask how many I have.


The data analysis one covers the work itself, processes, visualization, statistics (a fair bit from a practical side, including hypothesis testing, probabilities, shape, regression, and error), relational data, and cleaning data.  It’s a nice overview with some good ways to practice.  These are great books to take on airplanes, car rides, and any other place where you risk being offline for a bit.

Old-school Twitter Version: It makes a great 101 course for data analysis or reminder.

The Cartoon Guide to Statistics

Some people may have this one.  Again, it uses humor to teach about statistics.  While it hits on some of what the Head First book hits, it digs far deeper into the natural language of statistics.  All those scary terms that statisticians love (SEM, stratified samples, and ANOVA) are explained.  Which means you can totally fake it until you make it (like this Tableau Toddler).

Added bonus: once you’ve read it, the pictures act as a great reminder.  Excellent for phone calls when you need to sound smart and forgot.

Old-school Twitter Version: You learn statistics through comics!

Divine Proportion (Phi) in Art, Nature, and Science

I bought this book on a whim.  The cover is almost entirely white and embossed except for the Chambered Nautilus shell.  The images alone make this one worth it, as it shows where we can find the proportion we all know and love obsess over almost everywhere.

If you read it, you get a nice math history.  It provides a quick summary of a number of thinkers and shows the intersection of math, art, and science.  Really, it’s a great look into history from a design standpoint.

Final added bonus: some of the colors in this book are amazing.

Old-school Twitter Version: Inspiration, history, and great visual training. And sound smart for the night!

How to Lie with Statistics

Okay, I lied.  You probably have this one.  But if you don’t, it’s a good one.  It covers all the deceptive things we can do with numbers and charts.  I like its snarky tone (of course I do), examples, and to-the-point explanations of why not to lie.

It’s an extremely short and quick read.  I’ve probably picked up about 3 copies (namely because people keep stealing this).

Old-school Twitter Version: This might be the original book on chart-policing. So worth it for that.


I’ve recommended this book already a few times.  Of course it’d make this list.  I believe they’ve (finally!) started putting these out in paperback.  I’ve lost track how many times I’ve replaced my personal copy, not to mention how many I’ve bought others.  Now that I’ve written this post, you can buy it for you.

Are you making people change their ways?  Of course you are!  Whether it’s getting people to go to server (vs expecting you to email a PDF), finally getting your beloved CFO off those endless tables, or getting people to do something after they look at your dashboards, you need this book.  It’s easily digestible, despite the high fiber count.

I also love these authors, so I’d recommend everything they’ve written.

Old-school Twitter Version: THE book to make a change (anywhere).

And for more reading…

I try to avoid “list posts” because you always miss something.

Here’s more classic/standard recommendations around data visualization.

Some recent ones with links to others.

And technical books to learn Tableau

And the Data School book list which is a nice hybrid.

Lastly, I make no promises, but I may call out some other books I’ve enjoyed in the future.  If I don’t have to play jenga with my book tetris, it might happen.

Happy reading!

2 thoughts on “5 Books You Might Not Have in your Tableau Analyst Library (Yet)

  1. OK, so the best book reviews always cost me a couple of bucks. I am in such agreement with your HeadFirst and Cartoon Stats recommendations that I’m moving Made to Stick up in the queue and dropping a title or two into the Amazon cart. Congratulations on the library; sounds wonderful.

    1. Perfect! It’s about time I start costing others some hard earned cash. Usually, it’s the other way around. It helps offset the bioinfomatics books you may be been an indirect/direct factor in purchasing. Cheers and enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *