Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge
This week’s blogging challenge is book recommendations! Wait…that sounds familiar…
Oh, right! October 23rd’s challenge was books recommended to us. Small difference, but a difference nonetheless.
Book recommendations are a very subjective topic.
I find that while I like the same general categories as my friends, genre can run a rather large gamut. For instance, The Husbeast, our friend T, our friend Cee and I all like Science Fiction and Fantasy…but we all like different subgenres. The Venn diagrams on our preferences make little dots all over the place. Making book recommendations can be downright iffy.
This is why I usually stick to non-fiction. Usually folks are looking for something fairly specific. If I can help out, I consider it a win!
Food and Diet:
I’ve struggled with weight my entire life. As a result, I have a quite a few weight loss books, text books, cook books, and books about the food industry. I’ve read and/or tried almost every diet out there. The one that works best for me is a ketogenic (low carbohydrate) diet. Lots of natural foods, low sugar.
Good Calories, Bad Calories is a real slog. You have to have some dedication to read through all the science Taubes has collected and contrasted. This is why he wrote the more user-friendly Why We Get Fat. As for recipes, I like Dana Carpender’s books. The 15-minute Low Carb Recipes book gets a lot of use around our house.
Fast Food Nation was an “it” book of the time (2001). Lots of buzz. There are some pretty horrific stories detailed in it, to be sure. There’s definitely an undercurrent of “go vegan” from some fans. My common-sense way of looking at the situation is to simply recommend cooking more meals at home if you want to make an impact on the fast food industry and its inhumane practices. Chip in to buy a cow from a local farmer, and have beef for a year (or more!). Source more local, ethical options. You can have meat and not be a monster. Gogo B-complex Vitamins!
Yes, there are formulae you can use to write a book. No, it does not make your writing formulaic, per se. What it does is help give your writing structure. If you’re writing a romance, for instance, you need to know all the different story beats necessary to satisfy your reader. If you try to get cute and cheat them out of a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending, you will get the pitchforks and torches. Don’t come crying to me when you have holes in your favourite pants and singed hair. 😉
Much of today’s writing is based around the hero’s journey or some variant of such. Gwen Hayes (Romancing the Beat) and Libbie Hawker (Take off your Pants) have written two of the more accessible books available on the subject.
I grew up with one art history text or another on the bookshelf. That’s just what happens when you’re the third generation to attend art school. The Visual Arts: A History was the text my brother and I were both requested to purchase. It’s come in handy over the years. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a good practical book for getting started. Watch for it when you hit up the used book store. It can be difficult to track down, otherwise!
Granny tried teaching me to knit. It didn’t work out so well for her (or me). Then I saw a hat in a book and wanted it. The only way I could get it? Make it myself. So I picked up Stitch ‘N Bitch and knit myself a hat with kitty ears and (human) earflaps. Then I knit myself an iPod cozy. It was 2005.
On the other side of the difficulty spectrum, we have Elizabeth Zimmermann’s The Opinionated Knitter. This is anecdotal knitting at its finest. As the book cover suggests, Zimmermann sent out newsletters between 1958 and 1968. Many of them are chatty and blog-like, and they include little patterns that do not conform to today’s strict, structured pattern requirements. There are people who would seriously lose their shit if they had to decipher EZ’s shorthand. The Baby Surprise Jacket is the standout pattern in this book. Well worth learning EZ’s conversational style of teaching.
Somewhere in the middle we have Alice Starmore and her series of Very Helpful Books. The one pictured here is all about Fair Isle knitting, and it is Very Helpful indeed. It even gives you the basic colour theory of Fair Isle knitting. I’m very happy these books have been re-issued; the info in them is invaluable. I picked this one up at Michaels, possibly on sale. Now I have to find the book on cables…
Economics as Entertainment
Last, but not least, I can recommend a couple of (related) socio-economic books. Freakonomics delves into statistics, and the possible relationships between vastly different topics, such as cheating, teachers, and sumo wrestlers. The two authors, Levitt and Dubner, have had some of their more recent claims called into question, but that could be partially due to communication, the research/editing process, or a variety of other factors. This first book, however, is quite entertaining and interesting.
There’s even a section on the economics of gang life in Chicago, written in conjunction with Sudhir Venkatesh, the author of Gang Leader for a Day. Venkatesh was a sociology student, attempting to conduct surveys in the Chicago Projects for extra credit. Instead, he wound up being held in a stairwell until his lack of gang affiliation could be verified. Gang Leader for a Day details Venkatesh’s observations as he explores the world of gang relations from a strangely privileged inside perspective. Again, the book is an interesting one. One that makes you think.
Those are my book recommendations, such as they are. Anything on the list that intrigues you? Any non-fiction recommendations I should check out? Comment below to let me know 🙂