Published by Martha Stewart, Simple Home Solutions is divided into Kitchen, Home & Garden, etc. No one produces more elegantly laid out, beautifuly lit photos than Martha herself.  This is the old-school Martha, not the newer glitzier version. She was truly the master of the quietly serene way of life.

This is a  timely book, because, ultimately,  Martha is very frugal.  Some of my favorite tips are: to put rubber bands around a lid and a jar to open a stubborn jar lid, remove sweater pills with a fine toothed comb, put candles in paper towel tubes to store them, hang chalk to de-humidify a closet, or loosen a lock by rubbing a pencil on a key. One tip I actually did (and it works great) is to apply self-adhesive felt pads to the bottom of coffee makers or other counter utensils to make them slide across the counter top.

Some criticize Martha for her perceived elitism, but she also celebrates the ordinary. For example, the book explains how to root the very commonplace coleus and  how to smooth caulk with a plastic spoon. Even if you don’t act on any of the tips, it’s a soothing world to visit.

It’s Clean and Tidy Week at the Davenport Library Info Cafe blog! Over the next five days Lynn will tell us about some great books that will inspire you to organize, straighten and scrub and otherwise make you into a finer human being. She starts us off with a bang with a book that not only is useful, it’s funny!

How to Get Things Really Flat

Andrew Martin’s eccentricity, English wit and  male point-of- view and his eye for the odd historical detail make laundry, ironing and “washing up” funny and (somewhat) inspiring in How to Get Things Really Flat. Martin casts himself as the bumbling amateur when he interviews experts on topics such as vacuuming and dishwashers.

The targeted audience are English “blokes” who should be doing housework, but women will find it informative and funny. His footnotes are tongue-in-cheek factoids that are  useful for American readers. For example, he lets us know that a pram is “short for peramulator, bigger and generally more heavy-duty than a stroller, since the baby lies flat. Any man pushing one is halfway to wearing a dress, or so he thinks.”

He is interested in the sociological aspect of housekeeping , with sections on “How Much Do Women Know About Housework?” (the primary subject being his long-suffering wife).

If you’ve overdosed on straight-forward, “how-to” books, try this unique addition to the  homemaking ouevre. In this work, previously unanalysed tasks are viewed through a slightly sqewed anthropolical lens combined with a Bill Bryson sensibility.