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tom_g's avatar

What is the book I need to read if I want to learn about ____ ?

Asked by tom_g (16575 points ) February 7th, 2013

We all have our passions and specialties. What is the book I should read if I want to learn about one of these. Maybe it’s wine, playing guitar, bird watching, astronomy, building furniture, baking cookies, etc. Where should I start?

For example, if you are interested in learning about and starting a Vipassana meditation practice, read Mindfulness in Plain English.

So, what are your suggestions?

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14 Answers

Pachy's avatar

For writers and would-be writers, I highly recommend The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White. It comprises eight “elementary rules of usage”, 10 “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of 49 “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of 57 “words often misspelled”. An oldie but a goody.

Seek's avatar

If you want to know about the Black Death specifically, or anything Medieval, read Barbara Tuchmann’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Bronze-age through Medieval weaponry and warfare tactics? Charles Boutell’s Arms and Armour in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

syz's avatar

If you want a comprehesive answer to the question “What happens to dead bodies in the US?” read Stiff by Mary Roach.

zensky's avatar

Idiomatic English and all its glorious metaphors… read Crazy English by Richard Lederer and all his other wonderful titles.

Because I’m feeling generous – freebee archives of his syndicated column here

@pachy – we refer to it simply, lovingly, as the bible.

glacial's avatar

If you want to learn the basics of French cooking, read the classic French Cooking in 10 Minutes. It’s a charming little woodcut-illustrated book that tells you how to prepare delicious food. Very practical.

Seek's avatar

@zensky That’s what I call “The Joy of Cooking”.

Coloma's avatar

If you wish to adopt, raise or support domestic waterfowl you must subscribe to www.majesticwaterfowl.org for every resource known to man on keeping your ducks and geese happy and healthy! Just look how happy and beautiful Marwyn is! lol

mazingerz88's avatar

If you feel some real interest about how to BBQ, perfect, I have a great book just for you. I literally have the book. PM me your address and I’ll ship it to you. It covers everything from how to BBQ each kind of meat to which kind of grill to use. It has recipes. Very good photos and illustrations. It’s quite in-depth though and the book is heavy, but if you don’t mind that, you’ll probably enjoy it.

gailcalled's avatar

For going outside after dark and looking up, my bible is NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickirson. If you have 7×35 binoculars or a small telescope, so much the better but really not necessary.

I just sent this to a 9-year old daughter of a fluther jelly, but it is really for the entire family.

It has the most easily navigable star charts and maps of anything I have tried. It does help to have dark skies or access to good seeing, however.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Coloma Or…or @tom_g could just request for a copy of your journal. And Marwyn’s! Lol.

( Btw, @tom_g, unfortunately, the SO refuses to give away that BBQ book. I am forced to retract my offer. Why can’t I give away what is mine-? Relationships are weird.)

Coloma's avatar

@mazingerz88 I am off to market to pick up some extra 10,000 grain bread for goose treats.
The slogan around here is… Bread before bed unless you are dead.
God forbid there is no bedtime bread I’ll be goosed to death. lol
Goose keeping 101 NEVER run out of bread!

morphail's avatar

Proper English: Myths and Misunderstandings about Language by Ronald Wardhaugh, about how many of our beliefs about language are wrong, and how we can look at language from a more enlightened perspective.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage addresses usage disputes but instead of handing down rules a la Strunk & White, it provides real examples from English writing and lets the reader make up their own mind.

Blondesjon's avatar

If you would care to trip out on hardcore medieval architecture I recommend The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett.

If you’re interested in what Ka is a wheel and Thankee-sai have to do with the fate of reality I encourage you to begin The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

If you want to sob your heart out the same way you did over Piggie in Lord Of The Flies pick up a classic and spend an afternoon with Of Mice And Men by, my friend and yours, Mr. John Steinbeck.

fundevogel's avatar

If you want to learn to how to stand your ground (without a gun) read Obedience to Authority.

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