How to Buy A “How To” Book

By Jessica


About 55% of my books are devoted to cooking, baking, or making something. Some of them are terrible and I never look at them but others are so perfect I can’t imagine my bookshelf without them. This is a list of my four favourite favourites from that part of my shelves reviewed by the best/worst comments I could find online pasted together and then a review by yours truly. Here we go!!

Simple Times: crafts for poor people by Amy Sedaris

What the internet says: “I got about a third of the way through and gave up. I think this book was an excuse for Amy Sedaris to dress up in horrible wigs and goofy costumes and have her photo taken. Simple Times is a fun book to flip through, but I don’t know who would make 90% of these crafts. I’m sure I also didn’t like it because it was sort of late 60’s mid 70’s kind of stuff that just looks dirty and dusty and yucky too me. I just kept picturing these sad homes of sad people whose lives had stopped in time — and it really made me kind queasy. It’s just a mish mash of stuff and ends up being boring despite my desire to like it.”

Average rating: 2.5/5

What I say: Amy Sedaris is one of the most important people in the world, indisputably. I discovered her on youtube a few years ago through her many appearances on Letterman and since then have been utterly fascinated. I don’t even understand how you can HATE this book as so many people online do. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t turn to this book for serious crafting but it’s so much fun and you can tell how much crazy work was put into every piece of it plus how much you would have doing the same crafts. (P.S. You can also watch demonstrations of some of the crafts on her yt channel and listen to the audiobook on her fan site)

My rating: 5/5

Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman

What the internet says: “This book is almost an exact duplicate of Cupcakes and Cashmere, the blog. Although it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s not worth your money because you can read the information for free (barring your Internet bill, of course) online. No original content; this blogger needs to learn how to be more daring, less self-absorbed, more creative and not be fooled by the hundreds of *positive comments* on her blog. Uninteresting, unoriginal, everything is just sort of bland. Although its not an expensive book, still not worth the money. Read the blog, don’t buy the book!”

Average rating: 2/5

What I say: When I picked up this book I had no idea what Cupcakes and Cashmere was so that probably contributed to my positive reaction to it’s content. I really love the layout of the book and how she’s organized the projects. Although I’ve never used any of the recipes, I did recover my bench because of this book (~with Amy Sedaris fabric!!!!) so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Plus I just really love the way her house looks and that she has a Bob Dylan quote on the wall of her office.

My rating: 3.5/5

LEON baking & desserts + smoothies juices & cocktails by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby

What the internet says: “In a refreshing unpretentious way the authors create lust for action and making the process of sourcing and preparing as much fun as eating your results. A buxom angel with spread wings flies on the cover of LEON: Baking & Desserts. She bears a tattoo on her leg that reads “Have your cake and eat it.’ In one hand she holds a beautiful dessert, while in the other she blows a horn that must be announcing good recipes to come. American users should be aware that the measurements are shown in metric, it may take a bit of trial and error to get the exact results you were looking for.”

Average rating: 5/5

What I say: I own both the baking & desserts volume and the smoothies, juice & cocktails mini book. Both are really pretty with easy to follow directions. I haven’t made much from either of these mostly because I get distracted by pretty food blog recipes and because it was worth the money just to sit on my book shelf. Amazing pictures and the cover art is gorgeous.

My rating: 4/5

The Illustrated Quick Cook

What the internet says: “We bought this cookbook a few weeks ago, I really wanted to enjoy this book. It’s quite pretty, with lots of different ideas but sadly the recipes did not stack up. The recipes are simple enough but there is a problem with missing ingredients and measurements. I feel that if you can’t make the simple recipes and have them come out delicious then it’s best not to lay out the cash for the more expensive ones.”

Average rating: 3/5

What I say: This book is the reason I can actually cook a number of meals and desserts that turn out delicious despite my brain’s best efforts of forgetting to buy certain ingredients or not checking the time when I put something in/on the oven. The directions are super easy to follow and broken into helpful sections for planning a grocery list. Before last September I would’ve given this cookbook a perfect score but it’s a little lacking in vegetarian options for main dishes.

My rating: 4/5

PS: My virtual bookshelf would consist entirely of the Minimalist Baker recipes because it is the most gorgeous food site you will ever encounter. Every recipe is easy to follow and gives vegan/vegetarian options!* *5/5* *WOULD DEFINITELY RECOMMEND*

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