Book Review: The Manga Guide to Databases

Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Mar 01, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

Recently I requested a review copy of The Manga Guide to Databases. Without a doubt, The Manga Guide to Databases was the most enjoyable tech book I've ever read.

Although I'm not a manga expert, my daughter is and she said that the manga quality was excellent. (Well, her exact words were, "I'm impressed. It's pretty good, despite being a boring book." But she's only 12 and can be a bit of a manga-snob, so I took that as a ringing endorsement.)

But what about the content of the book?

I'm happy to say that The Manga Guide to Databases was a quick, easy read on a lazy weekend afternoon. After a brief preface, the book starts readers out with a chapter that explains why we need databases. The manga story revolves around our heroine, Princess Ruruna, who is left in the castle with the task of organizing her country's fruit export business while her father, the king, is gallivanting off to who knows where. A female database admin left holding down the castle? We're off to a good start.

The king sends the princess a package from his journey to a faraway land, and I won't go into too much more detail because the last thing I want to do is ruin a perfectly good action-adventure manga database book. For readers who love a little romance story in their tech books, you'll be pleased with The Manga Guide to Databases. For those of you who'd prefer not to read a love story along with your database design howto, you'll also be happy because the love story is minimal, not too distracting, and won't make you gag.

I'm not a huge fan of reading comics because I think it's a bit tedious, particularly if the font is tiny. However, I'm impressed with how much information is crammed into the 200+ pages of this book, and how easy it is to follow. I'm a visual learner and thought that the book broke concepts down into easy-to-understand chunks of information, such as database terms, types of data models, and data extraction operations. The author, Mana Takahashi, makes clever use of database diagrams (with fruit export examples) to illustrate lessons in each chapter, and concludes chapters with a few test questions to help readers check their understanding of what was covered. She also provides a concise summary of what was covered, followed by answers to the test questions. Takahashi ends the book with a brief list of frequently used SQL statements.

I loved this book and highly recommend it if you'd like a beginner's book with a fun overview of databases, served up manga-style. I can't wait to get my mitts on other upcoming No Starch manga books, including The Manga Guide to Calculus, The Manga Guide to Physics, and The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology. Learning everything should be this easy and enjoyable.

Visit http://nostarch.com/mg_databases.htm to read an excerpt from Chapter 2: What is a Relational Database?

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