Even though we now have the information highway with information literally at our finger tips, it is still essential that we have a small reference library that we can call on when we need information. These eight books will get you through a whole lot of problems and will take up little space on your book shelves and can save you money.
Whether you have children or not, every reference library needs a good dictionary. I recommend a Webster's or an American Heritage. Even though they add words every year to dictionaries, even an older one will work. Why do you need to keep a good dictionary on hand? Imagine that you are working on a report for your boss late at night and it is due the next morning. You can count on spell check, but for some words, spell check might not hack it, with a quick check you can be sure that you have spelled it correctly.
A good Rand McNally Atlas can help you plan car trips. It can also help you find some towns that you may need to mail to with your business.
Next on the list would be a basic beginning cookbook with good charts on measuring equivalents and substitutions. Even if we are expert cooks, sometimes we can't remember what can be substituted for what and how many pints are really in a gallon. What if you come across a term in a recipe you just don't understand, a good basic cookbook will have a vocabulary list also. With more people going back to a simpler way of life, some of those long forgotten easy family favorites just might be a godsend for those nights when you need some comfort food and a easy recipe.
I recommend that you also have a detailed fix it manual for household appliances, there many out there on the market. You will want one with detailed pictures. These can be helpful if the belt breaks on your dryer or if you need to troubleshoot your dishwasher. Why pay the repairman when simple repairs can be made by you for a fraction of the cost? If you have to call the repairman, with the detailed pictures, you can tell him exactly what you know is wrong. This can save you the cost of the repairman diagnosing your problem.
A must for a small reference library would also be a Chilton Auto Manual on the make and model of your car. These books can help you diagnose and repair your car but also has information that your mechanic will need in fixing your car. Also Chilton's has very basic car repair manuals that can teach you how to do very basic car maintenance that can save you lots of money doing the simple basics.
You can also add a book on common household repairs for maintaining your home. Changing out a lock or fixing a stuck window are easy repairs when you have a home repair manual with good detailed pictures. Readers Digest have a couple out that I would highly recommend as they have detailed pictures and step by step instructions. Make sure that it includes easy electrical and plumbing repairs as these can be expensive but can be easily accomplished by the do it yourselfer.
A basic book on computers would be helpful too. Many programs on a computer don't get used because we don't know they are there or we don't know how to use them. Before you go out and buy expense software, be sure to check your computer to see if you don't already have a program that will do the job. A book on how to use these programs will save you money in the long run. I recommend the "Dummies" series of computer books, they are very well written and easy to understand.
A first aid manual can be a lifesaver, literally. The American Red Cross has books you can buy on how to deal with emergencies. A good home remedies book can also be a wonderful resource if you are in to that kind of thing. Make sure your first aid book has a good checklist of first aid supplies and make sure that you keep these things on hand. But remember that your doctor is your first line of defense when you are sick, treating yourself for minor injuries and illness is smart but if you don't feel better in a couple of hours, give your doctor a ring.
A basic gardening book for your local area is a great thing to have on hand. Pick one that gives you planting guides and basic information on how to garden. Everybody would love to have more plants in their lives and this book can save you time and money. This book should include basic planting instructions, care and feeding and maintenance requirements. Homegrown vegetables are good for you and can save you money in the long run.
To start, a trip to your local library may be in order. Here, you will be able to look at and review many, many books on the above subjects and this will make your purchasing of the books much easier. Figure out which ones you like and then make a trip to your local book store. Also a good resource is your friends. Ask them what books and authors they have in their own libraries. You may find some All-star winners this way. All the books I have mention can be bought a your local used book stores or at many of your Thrift stores. Always keep a eye out and in no time you will have the basics for a good do it yourself reference library.
By Debra in Colorado from Colorado Springs, CO