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April 28, 2006 Edition

Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade, by Guy Browning

This collection of short, tongue-in-cheek “how-to” pieces is almost guaranteed to put you back in the mood to deal with dinner, kids, and dogs after a long day at work. Pick it up at random and chuckle over how to buy shoes (it’s a great way to find out if you need new socks), how to win at Sports Day (put your thumb on the egg and run like heck), and how to flatter (carefully, lest you end up somewhere you don’t expect). Lots of nonsense delivered deadpan.

The Year of Yes, by Maria Dahvana Headley

When Headley found herself alone on Valentine’s Day (again!), she decided that perhaps she was too practiced in saying no to potential dates. Her decision to spend the upcoming year saying yes to anyone (there are a few caveats) who asked her out meant she spent time with a guy who thought he was Jimi Hendrix, a millionaire who still lived at home, and other men who weren’t quite right for her, but who eventually led to the one who was.

Fitting Out Your Boat in Fibreglass or Wood, by Michael Naujok

Boat Interior Construction, by Michael Naujok.

As a mechanical engineer as well as a boatlover and owner, Naujok knows the ins and outs of boat renovation and construction. In “Fitting Out Your Boat” he covers refurbishing keels and rudders, replacing deck fittings, and repairing teak decks. In “Boat Interior Construction” he offers instructions and tips on such things as fitting bunks, insulating engines, building a practical galley, and handling boat plumbing.

Epic Tales of the Philippines, edited by Artemio R. Guillermo

Spanning many of the cultures and languages of the Philippines, this collection showcases a rich literary tradition that few in the West are familiar with. Although the original versions of these stories were chanted or sung, some over the course of many days, the versions here were rewritten to be read. A section of story notes and sources, as well as a name-pronunciation glossary and an extensive bibliography, round things out.

Castles in the Air, by Judy Corbett.

The real and imaginary blend in this story of a couple’s quest to restore an ancient, ghost-ridden castle in Wales. Neither Judy nor her fiancé know quite what they’re in for when they buy the 16th century castle in the foothills of the Snowdonian mountains, but their plans for the place include a quiet wedding in the castle’s chapel and perhaps creating an elegant bed and breakfast. Before that, though, there are architectural puzzles to solve, chimneys and fireplaces to rebuild, and acres of garden to resculpt.

The Edible Garden, by Sunset Books

It’s just about time to start digging in the garden and this Sunset book has got some great ideas about what to plant and where to plant it. With an emphasis on growing vegetables and fruit, but also on landscaping for a good visual effect, this could be the one book you need for a beautiful and abundant yard this year.

Steal this Vote, by Andrew Gumbel

Gumbel traces the history of voter fraud and election stealing from our country’s beginnings through the 2004 election. His placement of the blame for the problems, not with any particular party, but rather with a system that is designed to support a façade of democracy at all costs, leaves room for a variety of reforms. A well-documented and calmly reasoned call for election reform.

AA Gill is Away, by A.A. Gill

As a travel writer for the Sunday Times of London, Gill has been many places and written wittily about them. Here, he explores the Sudan, muses over the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese, boggles at the wonders and poverty of India, and much more. Part humor, part pathos, part angry commentary on the state of the world, Gill is an able and interesting travel companion for the armchair traveler.

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