Recommendations for homemaking books?
November 30, 2016 7:06 AM   Subscribe

We just (as of yesterday!) bought our first home. I am a mixture of excited and clueless. Please recommend your favorite homemaking / housekeeping books for me to pore over. This is a genre I love but it's never been so immediately applicable to me before.

I am currently reading through Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. I get a total kick out of her writing style and it's a great reference book, but it's not exactly inspirational/fun, and it's probably aimed at a more formal living style than we have.

At the other extreme, I have a couple of books in the "radical homesteading" vein, which are more fun to read, but which seem to assume that the reader has either a massive farm or a cool apartment with a roof garden, rather than a suburban split-level (which is what I have).

My ideal book would be something that would tell me, say, how often to vacuum behind my refrigerator or get a stain out of a tablecloth, but also include some moderately crunchy and crafty projects like composting or preserving food. Since that book probably doesn't exist, I'll happily take recommendations for anything along that spectrum. My main criterion is that it takes the subject of homemaking seriously and thoughtfully.

I've written books in the title, but I recognize this is a frequent topic of blogs - would love good blogs on this subject also. I read this thread and bookmarked a few out of there, but my question is more general, I think.
posted by cpatterson to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
The House That Cleans Itself
posted by soelo at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2016

I really enjoy Jolie Kerr, and she has a book that I found both entertaining and useful!

If you don't like her style of writing on her blog, you won't like the book, either, but I love her.
posted by needlegrrl at 7:42 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I totally came in here to rep Jolie's book.

She's on Twitter (so you can keep up easily with where she's slinging advice these days) and there's also a podcast.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:13 AM on November 30, 2016

[Couple comments deleted. OP says they're already reading Home Comforts, and are looking for different books.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:42 AM on November 30, 2016

Congrats on the house! Two books in this vein that I've referred to a lot are:

Raleigh Brigg's Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills. It's not comprehensive but a good introduction with recipes for making your own cleaning supplies. It's got a DIY, zine-y presentation - handwritten and hand-drawn.

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. It covers more basic projects like composting, gardening, cleaning, and canning, as well what I consider to be more advanced projects like raising chickens, greywater reuse, and solar power. I've found the basic stuff to be useful, and like looking at the other stuff as inspiration if I ever wanted to up my game.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 8:43 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do a web search for (your state) University Cooperative Extension...and once you're there, look for 'food preservation.' They will have lots of publications about canning, pickling, drying, and whatever other preservation methods you might want to try. They'll also have information about gardening and various home equipment and practices. Plus they probably have phone numbers you can call to talk to actual people and ask questions.

For some reason, my state's extension (California) has very little on line, though you can sign up for classes and request printed material. It would be great if the extension at your state's university system is more modern, but since you're looking for books anyway, you might enjoy the booklets.
posted by wryly at 9:53 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

This was posted in the other thread, but I cannot recommend the blog The Art of Doing Stuff enough. Tips and anecdotes for gardening, cooking, redecorating, cleaning, even table etiquette -- up to heavy projects like building a backyard cob oven, building reclaimed wood furniture, and keeping chickens.

Also, just in case you haven't looked too deeply -- I've found tons of invaluable advice from AskMe threads in the past. Just the search page for "housekeeping" is quite a bit...

Do you have a neighborhood association or block events? People are oddly excited by being asked to share housekeeping notes, since it's such a friendly-yet-personal question. If you notice interesting plants in your neighbors' yards, or aren't sure about some utility whatever, I'm sure your neighbors would be more than happy to dispense far more personalized advice.
posted by miniraptor at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ditto to Jolie Kerr. Her work is really delightful.
posted by radioamy at 1:12 PM on November 30, 2016

Speed Cleaning and the other books in this series.
posted by Joleta at 8:46 PM on November 30, 2016

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