Book Review: Head First SQL

December 04, 2007
Ganadeva Bandyopadhyay

The Head First series seems to be a radical approach in technical books. The use of imagination in this book and emphasis on practice to understand the concepts seems to be a unique way of getting at the fundamentals. The book under review,Head First SQL, succeeds at putting SQL into the brain.

Spread over 12 chapters, the book almost looks like the nursery books we all must have read, to convey the concepts about SQL using MySQL databases as an example of RDBMS. The approach used in the book takes some getting used to before the actual picture gets clarified. For us South Asians, this is as close a comparison with Aamir Khan's style of delivering the goods in a honest and imaginative way.

For the record, the concepts covered include the basics like SELECT,DELETE and UPDATE statements to such topics as on table normalization and constraints, views and transactions. The emphasis throughout is on MySQL with the variations based on different databases needing to be worked out by the individual reader. The topics which I especially found clarifying were the discussions on normalization, use of joins in preference to sub-queries and the tips on better table design.

For the students and enthusiasts of SQL and relational databases, this is an excellent documentation to tackle your fears in this topic without losing sleep or gaining gray hair. The readers however need to have an open mind while reading this book as it is not like the other reference or technical books, which are heavily text based. There will be a bit of a learning curve for the category of users adapted to the text heavy technical documentation.

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