Betty Crocker CookbookWhen I got to college, the best book I bought was a 3-ring notebook-style Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. Not adventurous food, but for someone who knew very little about anything concerning food, it was a great first book. It assumes that you are reading a cookbook because you want to know what to do, step-by-step — instead of just hinting, it lays it out, with pictures and plain language. Great stuff. A couple times a year my wife and I still will ask one another, “What does Betty say to do with these?”

I always think of Betty (and the old How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) as the epitome of good technical instruction books. They are all about practical information first, with a minimum of wasted words.

Today I found a new one for that list.

Low-Carbon DietA woman I work with showed me an amazingly good, inexpensive, well-illustrated and designed guide to losing 5,000 pounds of ugly carbon. I could have sworn it was discussed here, but when I searched the archives I was astonished to find no mention of the book, The Low Carbon Diet, or its author, David Gershon.

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It’s the new No. 1 book on my “practical responses now that you’re scared crapless” list (formerly occupied by the Union of Concerned Scientists’ A Consumer Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, now sitting at No. 2).

I’m especially happy to add this book to my list because I was recently told rather clearly that I needed some more upbeat info in my repertoire. I was discussing the various titles on climate change at a presentation I gave recently and someone in the audience burst out, “This is like Oprah’s Suicidal Book Club!”

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So, yes, wonderful to have a “here’s how we stay alive” book. It’s inexpensive and worth many times the price.