Today we’re looking at the best system design books of this year.
Why learn system design?
System design questions have become standard at many FAANG interviews.
And because of their open-ended nature, many engineers struggle with system design interview questions.
But even if you’re not trying to land a FAANG-level job, knowledge of system design is critical if you’re a systems engineer (or trying to get into the field).
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you buy something. Read my disclosure for more details.
TLDR: Best System Design Books
💵 Best Value
Designing Data-Intensive Applications
📚 Best System Design Textbook
Systems Analysis and Design
🎁 Bonus: Best System Design Course
Grokking the System Design Interview
Best System Design Books
Our list includes 8 top-rated system design books.
You’ll discover their:
- core concepts
- and much more.
We’ve also included some of our favorite system design courses near the end of this post. Let’s get into them!
Systems Analysis and Design takes a hands-on approach to learning with projects that mimic real-world scenarios.
Plus, you’ll learn about core system design concepts with case studies, examples and special features. Explanations are in-depth.
In addition, you’ll develop essential skills and knowledge needed for a system design career.
And by the end of Systems Analysis and Design, you’ll have a strong foundation in system analysis and design (SAD) concepts and applications.
And in Clean Architecture, you’ll learn how to make choices.
That might sound simple, but as you’ll discover in this book, making good software choices can be tough!
Clean Architecture is packed with solutions for real-world challenges system designers face.
You’ll learn how to:
✅ know the difference between good and bad code
✅ transform bad code into good code
✅ format code
✅ unit test and practice test-driven development
While this book isn’t geared exclusively to system engineers, there are many useful concepts that carry over to system design.
Next on our list of best system design books is the best-selling Designing Data-Intensive Applications.
Don’t let the roaring boar on the cover fool you. 🐗 In this book, you’ll learn how to use various technologies for processing and storing data.
Data widely contributes to challenges in system design:
✅ scalability challenges
✅ consistency challenges
✅ reliability challenges
✅ maintainability challenges
And with all the tools out there like relational databases, batch processors and message brokers, how do you know what’s right for your application?
Designing Data-Intensive Applications answers that and much more.
You’ll also learn how to make informed decisions and make full use of your data.
System design interviews can be intimidating. And because the questions are open-ended, there is no definitive answer. (And that’s where developers get stuck.)
Fortunately, we have System Design Interview to the rescue.
System Design Interview goes slow and uses plenty of illustrations to walk you through actual system design interview questions.
And using 15 system design questions and 188 diagrams, you’ll learn what interviewers look for and why.
In addition, you’ll learn about a 4-step framework you can use to solve any system design problem.
🏁 When you’re ready to dive into more challenges, check out Alex Xu’s latest release System Design Interview – An Insider’s Guide: Volume 2.
📚 The following system design books are textbooks.
Textbooks can be beneficial because:
✅ they’re based on structured curriculum
✅ you can rent or buy them
Next on our list of best system design books is Systems Analysis and Design.
Simply stated, this book uses a practical approach to system design.
Plus it uses real-world examples to demonstrate traditional and emerging approaches to system design. This includes object-oriented and agile methods.
In addition, you’ll study cloud computing and mobile applications.
And working on projects and assignments both in the book and online will ideally boost your critical thinking skills.
Systems Analysis and Design’s practical content is geared towards beginner to intermediate students.
And it presents system development methods, tools and techniques in an easy-to-understand way.
There are problems, case studies, and hypothetical situations.
In addition you’ll look at data flow diagrams, data dictionaries, process specifications and new software used by system designers.
Additions to the 9th Edition include coverage of e-commerce website design, wireless technologies and consulting opportunities.
Coming in 7th on our list of best system design books is Systems Analysis and Design in a Changing World.
This book gives you a solid foundation of system design principles.
You’ll look at the fundamentals of:
✅ system design
✅ defining the system architecture
✅ designing the user interface
✅ designing the database
And you’ll learn both traditional and object-oriented approaches to system design.
In addition, you’ll learn how to approach new software using case studies.
But you’ll also be able to apply new methods to different approaches:
- web development
Finally on our list of best system design books is Modern Systems Analysis & Design.
This book uses practical methods to present concepts, skills and tools essential for system design.
And this edition has been revised to adapt to the changing systems design environment, with a focus on agile methodologies.
So you should have experience designing programs in at least one programming language before reading Modern Systems Analysis & Design.
Here are our favorite system design courses.
✨ System Design Interview: DoorDash
In this course, you’ll use DoorDash (a food delivery service) as a case study. It will familiarize you with encounters you can expect at the interview.
First you’ll learn to understand the theory behind system design interviews. Then you’ll learn how to:
✅ identify a system’s requirements
✅ handle data
✅ lay down architecture of the system
You’ll work with diagrams and quizzes to help you understand concepts.
By the end of System Design Interview: DoorDash, you’ll know how to confidently approach a system design interview.
⚠️ Level: Intermediate
Grokking the System Design Interview was created by hiring managers from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.
Included are a set of questions asked at FAANG interviews. This includes designing Facebook, Pastebin, Instagram and more.
And the second half of the course is a glossary of system design basics such as:
✅ load balancing
Plus you’ll get a certificate of completion.
SystemsExpert is designed to help you ace the FAANG-level system design interview.
This is brought to you by the creators of AlgoExpert.
So after learning system design fundamentals, you’ll work on 10 questions asked at actual FAANG interviews.
Video accompanies each problem with a mock-interview scenario. These help you understand what clarifying questions you should be asking at a system design interview.
And the 4-pane integrated workspace shows you the prompt, scratchpad, video solution and the solution walkthrough.
You’ll get a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
🚨 Use promo code realtoughcandy and save 10% 🚨
8 System Design Books You Need This Year: Conclusion
Today we looked at 8 system design books including:
And we threw in 3 bonus courses:
So whether you need to pass that system design interview or simply want to expand your knowledge as a working systems engineer, we believe these system design books can help just about anyone.
Engineers searching for the best system design books are also reading:
- 3 Best System Design Courses + 6 BONUS Resources [Learn System Design ASAP]
- Grokking the System Design Interview review
- System Design Course BATTLE ROYALE: SystemsExpert vs. Grokking the System Design Interview review
- What are the best system design books?
We recommend Systems Analysis and Design by Alan Dennis. You’ll take a hands-on approach to learning by working on projects. But if you prefer textbook learning, we suggest Systems Analysis and Design by Scott Tilley. It uses real-world examples to demonstrate traditional and emerging approaches to system design. And if you’re looking for system design interview books, we recommend System Design Interview by Alex Xu. You’ll work on 15 problems with over 180 illustrations to assist you. Learn more about these and other best system design books in today’s post.
- Where can I find system design interview questions and answers?
There are many places you can find system design interview questions and answers, including books and courses. We recommend Grokking the System Design Interview on Educative.io. There are 14 real-world problems like Design Facebook and Design Instagram. If you’re looking for a book, we recommend System Design Interview by Alex Xu. You’ll work on 15 system design problems with over 180 diagrams. There are more system design books and courses in today’s post where you can find design interview questions.
- Are system design books worth it?
System design books are worth it for students who need some time away from the computer. While using books exclusively may not be the best way to learn system design, they can be a great addition to your existing curriculum of courses and video tutorials. In today’s post, you’ll find plenty of system design books and even a few courses.