Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoomSometimes, and often on Fridays, we find ourselves in want of help. Mighty are our brains, but much is not therein contained.*
Of foreign tyrants and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.
-- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
We need advice; we want an expert opinion; we seek counsel.
So in the spirit of Oscar Wilde** we'd like to pass on some of our go-to books for good advice.
Should you want to blog and tweet without getting sued
Blogging & Tweeting Without Getting Sued by Mark Pearson
This is clearly highly Relevant to Our Interests. As Mark Pearson says, 'We are all international publishers now - every time we blog or tweet or comment on a website - and we are subject to several hundred legal jurisdictions worldwide.' But as another great book of advice says in large friendly letters on the front: DON'T PANIC. Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued is a reassuring, easy-to-digest guide to the pitfalls of publishing online (and how to avoid them). Read it. Blog. Tweet. Don't get sued.
Should you want to know about women's stuff
Women's Stuff by Kaz Cooke
This book is magnificent. It's funny and matter-of-fact and sensible and informative - all the things you expect from Kaz Cooke. It's for teenagers, and uni students, and mothers, and grandmothers, and singles and marrieds, and hairy and non-hairy, and bosomy and non-bosomy and, basically, all of the women.
Should you want to work with words
The Chicago Manual of Style
There are many other style/usage manuals that we could mention here. Some we use more often and adhere to more stringently - we're looking at you, Australian Style Manual, and the Macquarie Dictionary - but the CMS has a certain panache, a certain clarity, a certain something. However, they do still recommend capitalising 'internet', which is CLEARLY wrong. So, as with all advice, sometimes you may find the most suitable course of action is *ig-noring*.
Should you want to cook all the things***
Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
The woman who taught Australia to cook has the answers to many vexed kitchen questions. How on earth do I cook venison? What's the best way to melt chocolate? Wait, allspice is just one thing? Simple. Fabulous. Margaret.
Should you be a man who wants to dress with style and sophistication
The ABC of Men's Fashion by Hardy Armies
A total classic. Sir Hardy Armies has an opinion on everything. 'To achieve the nonchalance which is absolutely necessary for a man, one article at least must not match. For instance, you can wear a dark blue suit and tie with a pale blue shirt and navy blue socks, but you must then have a patterned silk handkerchief, say in dark red or a paisley design of green and brown; or you could stick to a blue handkerchief and have dark red socks.'
Funny, informative, stylish beyond measure.
Should you want to listen to your heart
Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Okay - so this is a novel. Not a book of advice or a style manual. And furthermore, the main character doesn't have any answers, she is searching for them herself. But Laura's new novel is so funny, so sad, so bittersweet, so tangled and so beautiful that it will teach you things about your own heart. What better advice is there than that which you arrive at on your own, after being moved by something, or after walking around in somebody else's sneakers for a while.
* If this overblown style is anything to judge by, we seem to have been accepting writing advice from some kind of Shakespearean Yoda.
** 'I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.'
*** This is a contentious area. Cooking speaks directly to the heart and soul, and some Onions clasped their food bibles close, and threatened to use them to batter (as in assault, not as in deep fry) their colleagues to death if they were not mollified with the promise of room in the foototes for their chosen tomes. Herewith a list of other books that you might like to consider:
Stephanie Alexander The Cook's Companion,
Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book,
the PWMU cookbook,
Charmaine Solomon's Encyclopedia of Asian Food,
Nigella Lawson's How To Eat,
Anthony Telford's The Kitchen Hand.