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Head First SQL: Your Brain on SQL -- A Learner's Guide Paperback – September 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 610 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596526849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596526849
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Outrageous! SQL is a computer language, right? Head First SQL is obviously written for human beings! What's up with that?!" -- Dan Tow, Author of SQL Tuning

"There are books you buy and books you keep on your desk... Head First SQL is at the top of my stack." -- Bill Sawyer, ATG Curriculum Manager, Oracle

"This is not SQL made easy; this is SQL made challenging, SQL made interesting, SQL made fun." -- Andrew Cumming, Author of SQL Hacks, Zoo Keeper at sqlzoo.net

About the Author

Lynn Beighley is a fiction writer stuck in a technical book writer's body. Upon discovering that technical book writing actually paid real money, she learned to accept and enjoy it.

After going back to school to get a Masters in Computer Science, she worked for the acronyms NRL and LANL. Then she discovered Flash, and wrote her first bestseller.

A victim of bad timing, she moved to Silicon Valley just before the great crash. She spent several years working for Yahoo! and writing other books and training courses. Finally giving in to her creative writing bent, she moved to the New York area to get an MFA in Creative Writing.

Her Head First-style thesis was delivered to a packed room of professors and fellow students. It was extremely well received, and she finished her degree, finished Head First SQL, and can't wait to begin her next book.

Lynn loves traveling, cooking, and making up elaborate background stories about complete strangers. She's a little scared of clowns.


More About the Author

Lynn Beighley is a fiction writer stuck in a technical book writer's body.

She spends most of her time writing tech books, or writing novels, or traveling.

Customer Reviews

And if you really want to learn SQL better, get other beginner books and read them.
Mister
I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching or learning SQL, relational database design, or MySQL.
Ryan
I have read many Head First books, and they are by far my most favorite programming "series" book.
Chris F

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

161 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on December 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Before I talk about Head First SQL, let me tell you about other database books I have used in the classroom. I teach an enterprise databases sequence (DBs I and II) at a tribal college in Montana. On the course evaluations for this sequence, students have a common complaint: "Liked the class. Hated the book.", "The book was painful to read.", "Please get a different book!"

Each year my colleagues and I are on the watch for a better, more engaging database book. We have tried three books over the past five years, but the difference between those books is like the difference between shades of grey. In the classroom, most of my time is spent mediating the daunting abstractness of those books or breaking down huge lumps of difficult technical material written in plodding and pedantic prose. This year a spot of color showed up: Head First SQL!

I discovered Head First SQL too late to use it as the primary text for my Fall quarter DBs class, but I liked it so much, I added it as an optional textbook for the quarter and told my students it would be the main textbook for the Winter quarter. I did so because the energy of the class was waning rapidly, and the book I had originally chosen was not helping. I needed to add some excitement to homework and lectures. Within two days of using Head First SQL, the classroom became a far more engaging environment.

I compiled this list for anyone interested in learning databases and SQL, especially anyone who teaches it.

Eleven Things I like about Head First SQL:

1. The book starts where my students start. The first questions my students have are questions of relevance: Why do I want to know this? What have I done before that's like this? What will this material add to my career and my life?
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Format: Paperback
I haven't met a Head First/Head Rush title I didn't like, and this one is no exception... Head First SQL: Your Brain on SQL -- A Learner's Guide by Lynn Beighley. It's perfect for someone diving into the world of relational databases for the first time, as well as those who don't do it often enough to feel comfortable with things like normalized forms and outer joins. And along the way, you'll have plenty of fun picking up the skills you lack/need to reinforce.

Contents:
Intro; Data and Tables - A Place for Everything; The SELECT Statement - Gifted Data Retrieval; DELETE and UPDATE - A Change Will Do You Good; Smart Table Design - Why Be Normal?; ALTER - Rewriting the Past; Advanced SELECT - Seeing Your Data With New Eyes; Multi-table Database Design - Outgrowing Your Table; Joins and Multi-table Operations - Can't We All Just Get Along?; Subqueries - Queries Within Queries; Outer Joins, Self Joins, and Unions - New Maneuvers; Constraints, Views, and Transactions - Too Many Cooks Spoil The Database; Security - Protecting Your Assets; The Top Ten Topics (We Didn't Cover); Try It Out For Yourself; All Your New SQL Tools

As with all Head First titles, Head First SQL sets out to engage all your senses during the learning process. Unusual diagrams, questions, exercises, and off-beat pictures are just some of the ways that the author works to grab your attention and force you down the path of learning (whether it feels like you're going down that path or not). The mixture of these techniques means that your mind doesn't really have a chance to drift off and start thinking about what you're going to have for dinner. It's this style that makes the Head First series the first one I'll recommend to people setting out to learn a new skill.
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70 of 75 people found the following review helpful By John Salerno on November 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My first Head First book was Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML, and it was absolutely wonderful. Given that, I had very high hopes for Head First SQL as well, but I'm sad to say this book is very disappointing.

I have two main complaints: the explanations in the book, and the typos. First off, I already studied a little SQL on my own a few months ago, mainly using websites and online tutorials. It's a fairly easy language to learn so I got pretty deep into it. I think it is for that reason only that I am able to follow along so well in Head First SQL. What I mean is, it seems to me that very little explanation is actually going on in the book. I understand the Head First method of teaching, but that doesn't have to preclude *any* kind of explanation at all.

For the most part, the chapters in this book describe a bunch of different situations (Greg and his list of contacts, clowns traveling around town, donuts at different shops, etc.) and through these examples we are given a bunch of SQL queries. The problem is that only once or twice does the author actually stop to say "Ok, here is the structure of the SQL query we will use"...instead, she just throws a bunch of queries at us and I feel like I would be very lost if I hadn't already studied SQL a little bit previously.

Instead of saying something like "You type the SELECT keyword, followed by your table name, followed by....." she just gives us the statement fully written. The problem I see with this is that it doesn't teach us how to construct our own. Our only real option is to pattern our own queries based on this single example she gives, rather than to know how to compose our queries from the ground up. (Sort of the whole teach a man to fish metaphor.
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