What do you dig about books with instructions?
January 1, 2009 2:53 PM   Subscribe

What great workbooks or instructional books have you found?

I'm looking for really great examples of the workbook style of text: the kind of books you can follow from beginning to end, with exercises or assignments to complete. I'm thinking of creating one as an art project for some friends, so I'd love to know what you liked about the good ones.

I'd also love to hear about terrible workbooks that just didn't work for you. Subject matter isn't important to my request, so anything from art to math to psychology is useful. It also isn't important to me whether the book includes space to write in it (just that it has assignments), unless you find that such space was useful/annoying.

What makes a workbook great?

Thanks for your help!
posted by lauranesson to Education (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not an "exercise" Richard Berry's Build Your Own Telescope is one of the best instructional books I've ever read. It's a great primer for making anything involving plywood.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:12 PM on January 1, 2009

I meant to say "It's not an exercise book but..."
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:13 PM on January 1, 2009

Best answer: I loved Head First Labs' HTML w/ CSS & XHTML. It is very immersive with a lot of projects and exercises. Their other books get consistently high reviews as well.
posted by effigy at 3:31 PM on January 1, 2009

Best answer: The Shelly Cashman series makes learning new skills relatively painless through interactive games and quizzes (e.g., computer-based flash cards, wheel of terms, and "Who Wants to Be a Genius?"). The workbooks' cover art is terrible, however.
posted by terranova at 3:58 PM on January 1, 2009

Best answer: (upon reading bonobothegreat's post, i confused Richard Berry with Richard Scarry and got pretty excited about building a "Busy World" telescope. oops.)

someone bought me Wreck This Journal and it's pretty neat, though more destructive than creative.

a workbook that i found useful (in that i actually did the exercises) was Every Monday Matters.

i'll scan my bookshelves and come back if i have any other suggestions.
posted by gursky at 4:01 PM on January 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook. I've led engaged couples through it (in my capacity as a minister) and found it to be really useful.

Also: The Feeling Good Handbook.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:02 PM on January 1, 2009

As for the "what I liked"--I would say open-ended questions that led to useful new insights, as well as a design that lets people learn as they go and immediately apply what they learn to themselves, so the knowledge sticks.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:04 PM on January 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks a lot, folks! I found all of your suggestions really useful, so bests for everyone.
posted by lauranesson at 2:21 PM on January 5, 2009

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