Bookshelf: Home Comforts

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Have you ever wondered how to get an ink stain out of your favorite shirt or how to make hospital corners on your bed? Maybe you haven’t, but I wonder that kind of stuff daily. Really, I do. And as a result I can relate to the first sentence of Cheryl Mendelson’s encyclopedic housekeeping tome Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, "I am a working woman with a secret life: I keep house." These days it seems no one is interested in how a home works and how to care for the spaces we inhabit. It seems every home improvement show thinks the way to make our homes better is to paint the walls a bright, bold color and put in a funky light fixture.

Sometimes the solutions are simpler, and often what we really need help with is managing our households, organizing our everyday lives and making our homes into comfortable, functioning places. Mendelson's a pretty good companion to have at your side, if these are things you aspire to do. Home Comorts is my go-to book for any home-related question.
I find myself pulling this book out for advice all the time, and I recommend it as an addition to any personal library. It would also make a fantastic wedding or house-warming gift. (I bought a copy for my mother, and it was one of my most successful gifts to date.) Even if your idea of mopping is running the Swiffer Wet Jet over your floors once a month, this book is full of handy tips and everyday wisdom that anyone can use. However, Home Comforts is not just a boring how-to guide for cleaning and housekeeping. It is a smart, well-written (and often funny) book to read.

(Word to the wise: Skip Mendelson’s Laundry, it's the 'Laundry' chapter from Home Comforts reprinted as a separate book. Also, invest in the hardcover version of Home Comforts; like the Joy of Cooking, this is the sort of book you’ll refer to often. If the cover price gives you sticker shock, amazon.com's marketplace and abebooks.com have cheaper used copies.)

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