Are you interested in delving into a career in data analytics but don’t know where to start?

That is a question I had prior to joining ‘The Data School Down Under’. I was hearing all the noise created by the world of big data. I wanted to develop an understanding of best practices and how to create and present data. That led me to research and read some high-quality resources that I am going to share with you below in my list of 5 Must-read books for Data Analytics.

The books cover topics on design and user experience, foundational theory, ethics, psychology, data presentation and storytelling. As well as best practice in the industry and information about the business intelligence software – Tableau.


The truthful art

1. The Truthful Art

Albert Cairo is a data visualization specialist who has written a detailed guide to understanding data. Introduction to statistics and other fundamental areas are covered within the book. Lot’s of important examples are included to show how data can be represented.

I enjoyed furthering my knowledge on the ethics of data and the responsibility of a data analyst. There isn’t much technical application required, rather an in-depth theoretical portrayal of many of the components for charting and presenting the information. It also references a bunch of resources should you wish to explore.


Now you see it

2. Now you see it

An extensive look at the best data visualisation practices to provide clear insight and do without all the distraction. This book directs the reader to start to think with their eyes! Stephen Few introduces us to pre-attentive features when creating charts and dashboards. Making sense of big data is vital to catalysing change and ushering in results.

You will learn about the use of colour, how to distinguish the relationships and trends and much more. It is a foundational manual for anyone interested in uncovering insight from data and representing the findings with clarity.


Practical Tableau: tips and tricks

3. Practical Tableau 

If you have made it to recommendation number 3 you are now ready to start playing around with Tableau. Tableau is a visual BI suite that is intuitive to use. Ryan Sleeper has delivered a succinct, fun read of tips and tricks to boost up your dashboarding skills. Feel free to jump around sections in the book and get involved applying the methods listed in the books.

This book is relevant for users already familiar with Tableau. You will be able to start increasing the interactivity of your dashboard and pair that with your underlying knowledge of best practices.


The Big Book of Dashboards

4. The Big Book of Dashboards

Stuck on dashboard design? Worried what the board of directors will think about your marketing statistics? Find all your inspiration right here in this big book! You will be able to look at real-world examples used for clients featured in this book. The authors are well-established in the data analytics community and regarded as some of the top minds for dashboard design and layout.

I used this book when preparing for my Data School application. It was useful to compare against relevant examples in the book. A standard was set to strive towards in my own design. It has dashboards on transport, marketing, finance, sports, HR and many more.


 Storytelling with data book

5. Storytelling with data

Rounding out the list is Cole Nussbaumer Knafflic’s Storytelling with Data. This book helps tie together the foundational knowledge and technical skills covered in the previous recommendations. Focusing on the power of storytelling. How can we present a story with data to the audience? With meticulous attention, plenty of preparation, and a great understanding of our audience.

Cole was out in Australia recently and came to talk to the Data School Down Under. I am sure was a valuable experience. She has been in the industry for over a decade and previously worked in the people analytics team at Google. Concepts are borrowed and seamlessly given context for use in data storytelling. This includes the narrative arc and storyboarding.

This is a must-read to improve your presentation skills when it comes to data. This area is sometimes neglected in the industry and if you are able to bridge the gap you will be an ahead of many others in the industry. The bottom line is if the insights can’t be conveyed the those who make decisions then the data can become lost.

BONUS: Storytelling with data: let’s practice!
A practical follow up with examples and
problems to work through.


If you are hesitant to start learning about all things data, I highly recommend beginning your journey with a few of the books listed above.

Keep an eye out for next weeks post on creating a ‘Tableau Template’ to use in your data analyst career.

Nicholas Hills
Author: Nicholas Hills