The Manga Guide To Databases, by Mana Takahashi and Shoko Azuma
Having read one of these books before, I was cautiously optimistic that this book would be both entertaining and instructive and I found that to be the case. In many ways this book is similar to the last book in the series that I read , and will encourage me to read more of these books as my library has quite a few of them. If this book is not exactly groundbreaking in its approach, it does provide a humorous way to justify the learning of databases and explore what it is that they have to offer to the reader even if few of the readers are likely to be in the same sort of life that the characters in the book are nor are they likely to learn about databases in the same way. This is a book that goes well beyond what it needs to do in order to make its point about the joy and practicality of databases and the sense of whimsy that the novel has is certainly something that I appreciated reading and that drew at least a few smiles to my face when it comes to thinking about this book’s approach.
This book is about 200 pages and is divided into six chapters. After a short preface the book begins with a discussion of what a database is through the appearance of a fairy in a book that explains databases to a princess and one of her nerdy advisers who are running the kingdom while the king is away (1). After that there is a discussion about what a relational database is as opposed to other types of databases like hierarchical ones (2). This leads to a discussion of the E-R model in several cases and the design of databases for the fruit-growing kingdom (3). After that the database fairy explains to her students how to use basic SQL commands (4). What follows is a discussion about how to operate databases and provide locks as well as indexing and recovering from disasters (5). The book then ends with a discussion of how databases are everywhere, which even includes a look at the king’s book on fruit which his daughter didn’t know about as well as some heartfelt goodbyes (6). Included in the book is a subplot where the princess decides not to marry a playboy and chooses to marry her intelligent adviser/protector, showing herself to be less of an airhead than might have been originally assumed.
How is it best to teach databases? As someone who works in the field of data analysis there are many ways that I have seen databases explored. Most of them are highly technical and not very exciting. This has lead to plenty of space where a book like this can make a subject that seems very difficult much easier to grasp in its fundamentals. If the reader does not need to learn SQL in great detail, the fundamental understanding of join and union and select statements explored here ought to be enough to provide at least a basic understanding of databases and what they do, and this is likely to be enough for the reader to at least understand and appreciate what the quants in their company are up to in creating and administrating databases. Even beyond that this book offers some humor in exploring the way that databases serve as a basic and foundational background to a great many important functions when it comes to ensuring that data can be updated, even as the book explores the trade-offs that are often involved in creating databases for use by a large group of people.