As a professional developer I often get asked by people to recommend books
to help them get started. For anybody wanting to understand SQL Server,
especially people just starting with database development or transitioning
from MS Access, they will find
Murach's SQL for SQL Server an excellent introduction.
I have not encountered a technical book before with such a clear approach to explaining the content. Each double page is structured so that the right page contains a diagram or a screen shot or some code samples, and the left page is a detailed explanation of what it all means. It is an extremely effective way of presenting information simply, in a tutorial yet informative way, that gradually builds your knowledge about the topic.
The chapters cover not only the basics of SQL data retrieval statements, but more advanced topics such as Views, Triggers and Cursors. This makes the book valuable not only to raw beginners but to more intermediate level developers as well.
Even with 10 years of SQL Server experience, I found this book informative and very comfortable to read - something lacking with many technical books today. I recommend it wholeheartedly.