For several years I sort of stalked a book at Barnes and Noble called "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of keeping a home" by Cheryl Mendelson. I loved the idea of the book, loved to glance through it but did not love the price. Even when it went on clearance I was too cheap to buy it. Then Martha Stewart came out with "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The essential Guide to caring for everything in your home." It was even more expensive. But I was in a homemaking zone one year and put them both on the Christmas list. I got the Martha book as a gift and found Home Comforts at a used book store for a price I could live with and then I had both.
(Hey I suddenly realized I could be getting pictures of my favorite books to put on these posts. I am smart like that.)
They are both about 2 inches thick and while they have similar information they are totally different books. The Homekeeping Handbook is written in Martha's usual detailed, informative, high brow style and has lots of photos of her various homes. The Home Comforts book is more well...comfortable. Its style is more like your grandmother's advice, which makes sense since the writer learned to care for her home from her two grandmothers.
I just love reading about housekeeping. While I am hardly a great housekeeper, I call it the "illusion of clean", I like to know what to do when inspiration hits. It helps keep the dirt and grime at bay. Every spring and fall I think about and read lists for seasonal cleaning. They are so entertaining. Sometimes I actually do a couple things on the list.
Mixed in with all the tips for keeping a house is some of the history behind why we do what we do or why our grandmothers did what they did and I find that to be the best parts of these books. It really gives me an appreciation for how hard the women before me worked and how blessed I am with something as simple and basic as a washing machine or a clean burning furnace. I don't have to spend an entire day hand washing and drying my family's clothes and I am not left with a layer of soot over the entire house when winter comes to an end.
Now that I have read them both, I actually have read the Home Comforts book twice, they just sit as reference guides on my shelf. Just a couple months ago it came out when Jake needed to iron his kilt. "Mom, could you show me how to iron pleats?" No problem I told him. Of course I didn't really know if there was a trick or not so I just lead him to Martha's book, it was the one closest to us, and looked up pleats in the index, turned to the page and discovered a very simple method for ironing pleats. I did have to explain to him what an ironing cloth was and then he was off to iron perfect pleats back into his kilt.
Definitely going on housewarming list for when he gets his first apartment.