PHP is a wonderful dynamic language, and the addition of Unicode support, namespaces in the upcoming version 6 will make it even better.
If you are new to PHP or are thinking of moving to PHP form other language then the following list of books will provide you with the required knowledge to become a seasoned PHP programmer. Of course, the list is subjective and you may have a different list of books in mind.
1. Zend PHP 5 Certification : If you are new to PHP, then you cannot get wrong with this book. This book will get you up and running in no time.; right from the basics to OOP, security, XML processing and more. A warning – the book doesn’t go into much detail, so you will have to refer to other books given below for a deeper understanding of the concepts.
2. PHP in Action : If you a beginner or intermediate PHP programmer, then this book will take you to the next level. Design Patterns, unit testing, advanced OOP.
3. PHP and MySQL Web Development : More pragmatic then the other books posted here. A little old compared to others. No information about MVC or design patterns, but this book you show you how to build real world applications like shopping carts, forums, mailing list managers, content management systems etc. It also has an excellent coverage of MySQL.
4. PEAR : PEAR is the PHP Extension and Application Repository, and is a framework and distribution system for reusable, high-quality PHP components. If you have been programming PHP for a while then you will surely have come across PEAR. PEAR provides classes for most of your daily programming needs. Whether you want to work with XML, create Excel documents, encryption, text processing; PEAR provides a class for the purpose and for many more then you can shake a stick at.
5. PHP Cookbook : The book to get you unstuck. Mostly for intermediate programmers; just the book to refer when you want a quick solution to a particular coding problem.
6. SQL for MySQL Developers : Most PHP programmers I have encountered have a very limited understanding of SQL. How many intermediate programmers are aware of the ‘HAVING’ clause in the SELECT statement or have used sub queries more then 2 level deep. The book provides excellent coverage of SQL as implemented in MySQL. The SELECT statement itself is given 9 chapters of coverage.
The book covers everything from MySQL installation, configuration, security to Stored Procedures in a friendly manner with many exercises at each chapter end.