I just re-submitted my final project for LIBR 240 – Information Technology Tools and Applications. Now that I have nothing to do except watch Lost (I started watching it the day after I posted about FlashlightWorthy’s list of books in the show), I thought I’d share some of the books that have helped me become proficient in HTML/XHTML and CSS this summer (especially since you can use them to teach yourself).
In a nutshell:
HTML/XHTML allow you to write content. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) allow you to make your content look organized and pretty.
This book is a little outdated, as HTML5 is currently under development and more people are using CSS3. Since HTML5 and CSS3 won’t validate, and many people still have older browsers that are incompatible, Castro’s book is still relevant and useful. She manages to explain things step-by-step without insulting the reader.
Her explanation of forms and scripts is helpful, but brief. Don’t expect to find all the answers if you’re trying to get your pages with forms to validate (trust me).
HTML, XHTML & CSS
Visual Quickstart Guide
Author: Elizabeth Castro
Another useful book for learning CSS is David Sawyer McFarland’s book CSS: The Missing Manual. Naturally, this book is much more in-depth than Castro’s on the topic of CSS. Even though it is not in color, the tutorials at the end of each chapter are helpful and comprehensive. One thing I didn’t like was how verbose McFarland is. That can be helpful for many people, but I prefer to learn by playing around with code rather than reading a long explanation of the code.
McFarland touches upon CSS3 in the final section, so I’d say this is a great book for introducing yourself to CSS.
CSS: The Missing Manual
Rev. 2nd ed.
Author: David Sawyer McFarland
Author: Jim Keogh
When I found this book on the library’s to-be-shelved cart I was immediately intrigued. IraqiGirl is a compilation of real blog posts written by Hadiya, a then 15-year-old girl living in US-occupied Iraq. Her narrative is reminiscent of The Diary of a Young Girl (by Anne Frank), and in a way, Hadiya is the Anne Frank of the 21st century. I’m sure I’m not the only one to make that connection.
But Hadiya’s world is much different than Anne’s. Aside from bearing witness to different wars (duh), Hadiya lives in the information age. Her blog is public, and so are her political opinions. She keeps her identity a secret, but people can still attack her in the comments section of her blog — not that she can’t handle it. In this book, you see Hadiya struggle between wanting to voice her opinions of American soldiers and the war in her country, and wanting to talk about more innocuous topics such as her bedroom and drawings. But we soon learn that pretty much everything in Hadiya’s life is tainted by the war.
Hadiya’s blog lives on here. I visited it today and read that she’s well into pharmacy school!
Edited by Eric Spitznagel, with an introduction by David Cross
The introductory letter sums up the premise of this book:
“Dear David Cross:
We’re thinking about publishing a book of advice. It would involve getting a bunch of our favorite comedians and writers and actors (and whoever else is available) to answer questions on a variety of topics, particularly those in which they have very little knowledge or experience. Does this seem like a good idea?
The Believer magazine
San Francisco, CA”
This is the perfect book to read after you finish HFCLM: Stories by Alice Munro.
Here’s a complete list of the contributors:
- Aziz Ansari
- Judd Apatow
- Fred Armisen
- Maria Bamford
- Todd Barry
- Samantha Bee
- Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter
- Andy Borowitz
- Michael Cera
- Vernon Chatman
- Rob Corddry
- David Cross
- Larry Doyle
- Paul Feig
- Jim Gaffigan
- Zach Galifianakis
- Janeane Garafolo
- Daniel Handler
- Todd Hanson
- Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
- Ed Helms
- Buck Henry
- Mindy Kaling
- John Lee
- Thomas Lennon
- Al Madrigal
- Aasif Mandvi
- Marc Maron
- Adam McKay
- Eugene Mirman
- Morgan Murphy
- Bob Odenkirk
- John Oliver
- Patton Oswalt
- Martha Plimpton
- Harold Ramis
- Amy Sedaris
- Sarah Silverman
- Paul F. Tompkins
- Sarah Vowell
- David Wain
- Rainn Wilson
- Lizz Winstead
The Believer is a literary magazine published by McSweeney’s.
I was a little hesitant to review this book because it hit really close to home for me. I was worried about how reviewing this book would reveal a problem I’ve dealt with since I was a little girl. But then I remembered that a) this isn’t about me and b) Emily White would disapprove of my hiding this information. So here we go:
This book is about chronic loneliness, and Emily White’s lifelong experience with it. Despite the connotations associated with the word “lonely,” it isn’t a silly affliction. She makes several points clear: chronic loneliness is not depression. It’s not a side-effect of depression, either (in fact, it’s often the other way around). It’s not the type of loneliness one feels while one’s husband or wife is on a business trip, or when one is spending a solitary Sunday evening away from friends and family in a strange place. Chronic loneliness can be genetic, or it can be triggered by life’s circumstances (for instance, mine is a result of both genetics and moving every few years as a kid; for others, it can be triggered by divorce, deaths, etc.). Chronic loneliness has negative effects on both our physical and mental health. It’s surprisingly common, so why doesn’t anybody talk about it? White argues that the stigma attached to loneliness causes people to hide it, which in turn leads to less treatment for it.
This is not a self-help book. It’s more of a call to action. This means that even if you don’t think you suffer from chronic loneliness, it is definitely worth reading if only to see its role within Western society. It doesn’t read like an academic paper, yet I couldn’t get over how clearly she organized and presented her information. However, like I said before, this isn’t a self-help book, so don’t expect concrete solutions. White actually addressed this in her blog:
A reader of Lonely once flamed me (is that what the cool kids say?) for writing a book about loneliness and still being lonely. He wanted, I guess, to hear about loneliness from someone who had totally mastered the state. I think there are some strategies you can bring to bear on loneliness (I’m going to post a lecture by a British researcher on this topic soon), but I’ll say in advance to anyone interested in Lonely that loneliness is still a problem in my life.
For those who do suffer from chronic loneliness and want to read this book, don’t let that discourage you. Insight from White and others who are lonely is plentiful, and just knowing that there are people out there with similar experiences can be very therapeutic.
You can check out White’s blog here.
The next book I read and review will be about a much lighter topic, I promise!
You might recognize Kelly Cutrone from her stint on MTV’s The Hills, her current role on MTV’s The City, and/or her own Bravo show Kell on Earth. She owns the PR company People’s Revolution, only wears black, is brutally honest, and has a very interesting story to tell about how she got where she is today.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside is a memoir/self-improvement hybrid. It’s exclusively aimed at women. Kelly gives you the advice “your mother never told you,” about how to take control of your professional life by creating your own religion and embracing your inner bitch (it can be a good thing!). If you’re not into the self-improvement stuff, you might still enjoy reading about the whirlwind that has been Kelly’s life so far, including her quitting a nursing job to climb up the PR ladder in NYC, marrying an Andy Warhol protege, divorcing said protege, moving to LA with no money, finding her guru, touring with Mazzy Star…I don’t want to ruin the rest for you!
My one gripe is that the quality of writing in this book isn’t consistently good. (Example: “That’s when a thunderous voice inside me shrieked, ‘You will die!!!'”) I don’t know what role Meredith Bryan had in writing the book (“co-author” can be a pretty vague title), thus, I can’t point blame for things like their use of parenthetical footnotes. If things like that bother you, this book might not be for you. That being said, I still finished the book within a day!