Yea, Rod Machado's book is good. I used it basically as my primary source for my PPL written. It is like a little kids book and has a lot of dumb jokes, but I really do believe that it is an EXCELLENT book for a first license. It will teach you the basics in ways which you can understand. What I did was read his book and then read the FAA's Advisory Circulars "Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge" and "Airplane Flying Handbook". That way I understood the material, but also understood the FAA and technical language for it. Also, Rod's book is very well rounded and teaches you many, many neat things that most texts won't. I think he is a genius.
Back in the late 60's or early 70's there was a book - no more of a booklet that was a bunch of really neat cartoons all about flying small planes. I used to have it. Got it for a present when I was about 14 years old. Could it have been a 'for dummies' book. No, that wasn't the intent, but it was really a joy to read and it was the book that sent me on my way to becoming a pilot.
I have to agree with the positive comments about Machado's book. The first thing I thought while reading it was "Dummies"-style. I love "Dummies" books. They clearly explain the concepts and identify the nice-to-knows and the must-knows. Machado's book does very much the same thing and it's sheer size ensures virtually everything is adequately covered.
As for the corniness, well humor is certainly subjective particularly when used as edutainment. If his objective was to write a comedy manuscript I might be critical. Since the objective is aviation instruction, I think it's masterful - nothing less. It's a must have!
I used Machado's book and say say enough positive about it. Tons of drawings, pictures, humor, crash summaries, av lore and of course VERY comprehensive coverage of not only what you'll need on the exams but what you'll want to know when you fly.
If you're looking for just the material, go with the Jepp, but it can get real dry for a lot of folks after a bit.
I'm glad they don't make a "Flying for dummies" book because some dummy would be out there on the ramp, with that book in the passenger seat, trying to teach himself how to fly. The first time I saw a guy with "UNIX for dummies" teaching himself UNIX on the console of one of our most touchy UNIX servers, I almost fainted. I'd do the same if I saw the dummies book in the passenger seat.
Kershner is great. I got Machado's Instrument book (autographed by him at AOPA fly in) and end up reading the cartoons and captions more than the text. VERY distracting, in my opinion. I LOVED the Kershner book for PPL.