Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Manual Labor Redux

Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

Do you ever read manuals?

How-to books?

Self-help guides?

Anything at all?

Part of the excitement of getting a new gadget, be it a car, a new cell phone, or a book case needing assembly, is reading the instruction manual. Perhaps my dedication to reading such manuals before fully putting together or using a new object like those mentioned comes from my upbringing, my parents always encouraging me to know all the facts ahead of time. I tend to learn best when given structure and guidance. That isn't to say I cannot learn how to use something without instructions--I most certainly can and have. Sometimes you do have to experiment. When it gets right down to it, I am not a very impulsive person; rather, I am a flexible planner.

I have a bookshelf dedicated to "how to" books. There are a couple of home repair type books, a gardening book, and several cookbooks. There are also animal care books offering advice on various animal emergencies or situations that may arise. I tend to read these books as needed rather than try and read them straight through. The animal care books are the most used of the lot. They have come in very handy sometimes.

I have read a handful of self-help books throughout the years. These kind of books are not ones I generally gravitate towards, however, occasionally one will catch my interest. As a matter of fact, I am slowly making my way through one related to health issues at the moment. The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner was one of the most influential self-help books I have read. It was assigned reading for a college sociology course, but it proved to be quite useful in my life and in my thinking.

Self-help guides, manuals and "how to" books are not books I usually count among my leisure reading. They serve their purpose and hopefully I am able to get out of them what I need most.


  1. I read manuals when it's necessary or there's an emergency and this mostly applies to electrical stuff. My husband is quite good at putting things together so I'll usually ask him first before I refer to them.

    I don't have too many self-help books, but some of them do catch my interest. Although they don't have to apply to my life, but still I find them informative and who knows when we might need it one day?! ;)

  2. I read The Dance Of Intimacy thinking that it was going to be BS, but instead, I have a great deal of respect for Lerner now. She's not just some touchy-feely shrink type saying let it all hang out. She encourages her readers to think as clearly as they can.

  3. I have a few how-to books as well, but sometimes it is just quicker to look something up on the Internet nowadays.

  4. Melody - My husband is good at putting things together too, but I am not so bad at it myself. Nearly all the bookshelves in my house were put together by me, and I would have been lost without the instruction manuals!

    I don't have very many self-help books either--but unlike you, I only read them if they apply to my life. I read so very few of them as it is. I will be reading and reviewing a self-help book some day soon, which is an exception (in my reason for reading it at least).

    Bybee- I am glad to hear it. I haven't read anything else by Lerner (or even looked into it, I admit). I found the book I did read by her extremely useful--at it came at a time in my life when I needed it the most, which is probably in part why it spoke to me so clearly.

    Chris - Really, that's the only time I read them too. It comes down to whether a person defines "necessary" the same way I do, I suppose.

    Trish - Sometimes it can be be quicker to look things up on the internet. Sometimes though it's more difficult for me to sort out the garbage from the good stuff. It really depends on what I'm after.

  5. I'm not very good at reading manuals first. I read them when I must (which is probably about 60% of the time it seems). I'm fairly intentional in other areas of life and like to be well informed, but there is something about gadgetry and reading manuals that I avoid!

    I haven't read a lot of self help books, but read My Mother My Self for a college class way back when. It was helpful. The other book that I can remember being helpful was Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

  6. I can't imagine reading the cell phone manual (we'll ignore the fact that it's in Japanese) because they are tomes these days. So many feature, many of which I couldn't be bothered about. I usually only look things up in manuals when necessary to set something up or if it's not intuitive. Your animal care books sound good though. Can you suggest a title or two?

  7. Your comment about the bookshelves reminded me of one category of manual I'll always read - assembly instructions. There's nothing worse than 100 pieces all over the floor and no idea how to put them all together.

    I like your description of yourself as a "flexible planner" - I think it fits me as well.

  8. I wish I had your patience, I think it is a lack of patience and 'I can do this'.....I am still trying to find all the nice things my camera can myself :P

    I will turn to a manual if really do not get it, like Tanabata writes I go on an 'intutive' feeling.

    Wendy, have a wonderful week-end :D

  9. I am good at assembling things too. Those tips come in handy. (Anyway, I do not have a husband/boyfriend to do it for me!). I have to fend for myself!

    My BTT post!

  10. A flexible planner, huh?

    That doesn't seem like a bad way to be. Far better than the 'skim through the book and have to go back later' group that I belong to, I think.


  11. Terri - I'm so lost when it comes to electronics and putting things together--I need all the help I can get.

    There are some good self-help books out there from what I can tell. Then there are those that aren't so much. The two you mention are new titles to me. I'll have to look them up. Thanks for the tip!

    Tanabata - I have no intuition when it comes to gadgetry. People, yes. Objects, no. Manuals, therefore, are extremely useful to me.

    As for animal books, I have several, but my favorite one is The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats from Prevention Books. I also have the K.I.S.S. books for both cats and dogs (which I did read straight through when I first got them), which came in handy early on.

    Florinda - Tell me about it! I like the sense of accomplishment I feel having put something together though, even if it's not perfect. The animals aren't always a big help, but I suppose they try in their own way.

    Sylvie - I'm not sure it's patience or just curiosity. :-) I wish I had an intuition as to objects, but that is something I completely lack.

    Guatami - Then you really do have to learn to do it for yourself, don't you? I think it's good to know how to put things together on your own. Even if you have someone around who can do it for you, you never know when that person might not be available to do it and you are stuck on your own.

  12. CJ - It sounds good when I say it that way, doesn't it? :-) It has its drawbacks.

    I still end up having to back to the manual if it's a feature I don't use all that often. It took me a few peeks in the book to figure out how to change the clock in my car.

  13. Other than cookbooks and DIY books, I find myself unconsciously building a collection of travel/destination guides.

  14. Matt - I completely forgot about those types of books! I have several travel guides as well. They are great for planning a vacation and dreaming.

  15. Hi Wendy, I have two big shelves of books on business, self-development, specific interests and Christian living. And another shelf on fiction, which I started on in May last year. I do read manuals just for the heck of it...

  16. Alice - I knew you would be a manual reader, Alice! :-)


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