Thanks to this book…..
Marking Thanksgiving in the USA, The Broke and the Bookish has decided that the Top Ten Tuesday challenge this week is to identify 10 books for which we are thankful. Many of my choices are non fiction.
1. Roget’s Thesaurus: this has been my lifesaver throughout all the years when I had to write newspaper stories and then speeches for executives or internal articles. I still have the large hardbound version I acquired about ten years ago though often I now use on line synonym/antonym tools.
2. Daily Mirror Style Guide by Keith Waterhouse: Many of the big media outlets create a style guide for their journalists, giving direction on which terms to capitalise, how to represent numbers etc. The Daily Mirror guide is rather different however because Waterhouse (one of their leading columnists) delves into cliches that are too commonly used. For example, tabloid newspapers always write that ‘police swooped’ on a house conjuring up pictures of flying detectives descending from the skies. He also tackles the headline writer’s propensity for puns, complaining that most of them are too obvious like the story where a comedian going into hospital was said to have been bound to have nurses in stitches. It’s great fun to read but was also my guide when I was a young journalist.
3. Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. A weighty paperback that I acquired as part of a prize from the Economist in about 2001. Delia was at one time a cookery expert that was on the BBC with primetime TV shows, books and other spin offs – a bit like Mary Berry is today. Her inclusion of an item in a recipe was enough to clear the shelves in the supermarket. One tiny company found itself bombarded with orders when Delia recommended their omelette pan. Many food writers leave out some key elements of their method or recipe so the result never looks the way it does in their book. Not so Delia – you know if you follow her step by step, you will have success.
4. Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck by Rick Altman. Remember the days when you didnt get confronted by slide after slide in meetings? Today it seems we treat Powerpoint like a dummy without which nothing can ever be discussed in a meeting. The slides are usually rubbish – too many fonts, too much text, etc. Altman’s book doesn’t cover the same ground you find in most other books – he shows how to cut down text and still make it meaningful and how to do clever things with pictures and graphics. The templates he uses are also available on his website. Highly recommended you get this if you ever have to do presentations.
5. Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life by Bob Greene
Greene is the guy who Oprah Winfrey turned to when she wanted to get her weight back under control. He took her from a 17 minute a mile walking pace to a marathon. I came across this by accident one holiday when I got some time to browse a bookstore in Alexandria, just outside Washington DC. I’d been trying exercise programs for years with not a lot of success – this book was the first time I learned that the key to success was exercising at the right heart rate and I had been doing it all wrong. I immediately went out and bought a heart rate monitor and a new pair of trainers and started following the program. The weight dropped and I felt fitter than ever before. Now,when I have slacked off a bit, this is the book I go back to for help and motivation.
6. Colour me Beautiful Ok, this isn’t a book as such but it is printed material so I’m counting it. It’s the little wallet of colour swatches that I was given after my style session with my sister. I take it with me whenever I’m going shopping as a reminder of what particular shade of red or orange works best for my skin tone. It’s saved me from some expensive mistakes! Other shoppers do give me an odd look though whenever I get it out and start holding up to the garments
7. A-Z of Alternative Words from the Plain English Campaign. Anyone who has worked in the corporate world or in the public sector will know that plans and proposals usually sound stuffy because people use words that they wouldn’t normally use in every day speech. Somehow they have gained the idea that certain words sound more important so if they want their document to have credibility they need to use those words. But often the effect is just to make the document sound stuff at best and at worst impenetrable. All hail to the Plain English Campaign for their tireless efforts to get companies and government bodies to understand that simple words are best. The A-Z of Alternative Words is a slim but effective pamphlet. If you’ve ever been frustrated by colleague who insist on using “as a consequence of” instead of the simpler “because” or “emphasise” instead of “stress”, this is for you.
8. Macbeth by Shakespeare ( as if you needed telling who the author is). I credit this play with setting me off on a path that led to a literature degree and a career where I could indulge my love of words. Until this play was introduced to our class I had been a fairly middling student. But something clicked that day in class. By the next day I could recite all of Act 1 Scene 1 much to the astonishment of the teacher and my class mates.
9. Middlemarch by George Eliot My favourite novel of all time and the one I would take to a desert island if I knew I was going to be stranded. It has such depth of meaning and so many ideas that it rewards re-reading and re-reading
10. The Madwoman in the Attic by Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert My university days coincided with the publication of this landmark text of literary criticism in which the authors examine the idea that women writers of the nineteenth century were confined in their writing to make their female characters either embody the “angel” or the “monster.” It was my first introduction to feminist critics. A complete revelation. I’ve had many occasions since to refer back to this book – hence it looks rather battered around the corners
19 thoughts on “Thanks to this book…..”
Great list – thanks for sharing.
Anything take your fancy?
I think “madwoman” is one I really ought to get round to – I have read about it enough!
The Madwoman in the Attic sounds interesting…
And I still have Middlemarch to look forward to!
Madwoman is a very thick book but you can just read the intro to get the idea of it and then pick up on the analysis of whichever text you want – Jane Eyre is a really good one
I love that one of your books is a thesaurus! I’m a fan of them 🙂
They have saved me on more than one occasion
Love these choices—especially the relative dearth of fiction! Hurrah for the Plain English folks and Roget and people who help us to make better PowerPoints…
The Plain English campaign is a super organisation – started by a grandmother who got frustrated because she couldnt read government forms. so she learned to read and then was angry because they were often so badly written they could not be understood
Oh, WOW. That is a brilliant back story.
Great idea for a post. Anyone who’s ever been paid for their writing must surely give thanks to Roget!
Absolutely = money well worth spent
Macbeth isn’t my favorite play, but it does have a lot going for it! I remember the first time I saw the complete works of Shakespeare, it impressed the heck out of me. My TTT
lady macbeth’s speech ‘unsex me here’ is guaranteed to send a shiver down my spine – far more than the witches
I take my colour swatches with me shopping as well – I know what suits but find it very useful for fine-tuning neutral colours 🙂 Agree, my colour consultation was a great investment that has saved me costly mistakes when clothes shopping.
What a nice idea for a blog post! Now you have me thinking what my ten books would be…
Fun list! My mother did Colour Me Beautiful and I still rely on some of the principles.
I love your choices! The influence of books….
I used to have a Colour me Beautiful swatch too! My Mum took me aged 17, when I was a goth with dyed black hair, black clothes and admittedly dreadful make-up. her hope was that I’d be discovered to be a peachy spring, and would start to dress accordingly. Alas for her, I was a Winter, and allowed to wear black! 😀 I still go by the rules, although I’ve always been drawn to blues and cool shades over warm colours anyway. What season are you?