I want to mention a few non-Challenge books I've been skimming these days because, despite not being "real books" (at least not according to the mythical judges I keep imagining are jurying this Challenge), they rock.
1. According to our finest medical scienticians, the ideal environment for achieving the perfect BM -- and sound overall intestinal health -- is relaxed, unrushed and unstrained. But in these crazy times in which we live, how many of us actually give ourselves ample WC time for Number Two (not to be confused with the ample time needed for other euphemistic bathroom activities)?
If you've been looking for an excuse to spend more "me time" in the bathroom, you could do worse than get your mitts on a copy of Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World. It may very well top the various Onion anthologies for on-the-can readability. Wing Chun and Glark sent it to Rusty Iron (formerly known as Sugar Larry and occasionally known as Acquilad) for Christmas, and it's been in hot demand around our house ever since. Having two bathrooms is a curse for the first time ever, since it's now led to the sad predicament of finding yourself in the bathroom that doesn't contain the book. Crap.
2. If you love grilled cheese sandwiches (and if you don't, what the hell is wrong with you? Seriously.), then you need to get the recipe for Mozzarella in Carrozza from Nigella Bites. Now I'm no chef, and I don't claim to be. I'm just a simple woman with an unhealthy addiction to food porn. I checked this book out of the library, and now that it's due back in three days, I'm all verklempt about giving it back. (This is how I got into big trouble with the library people several years ago. But that's a story for another day.) But I've transcribed the recipe into my recipe notebook (aka The Big Book of Culinary Wishful Thinking That Will Never Materialize), and I may surprise myself by actually making it some day.
3. Being in the family way, I find people suddenly hurling pregnancy and baby-care books at me from every which way. Most of these books are dense, opinionated, and filled with the kind of pictures that are apt to frighten you by suddenly appearing without warning when you turn the page. Which begs the questions: where are the books for the squeamish and the timid, not to mention books for people who'd rather not spend the entire duration of their pregnancy reading 900-page books? Surely there must be a huge niche market for this kind of material.
I've only come across one book that satisfies this requirement: The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance. Short sentences. Non-partisan advice. Non-threatening technical diagrams. And at only 224 pages, mercifully short. It's the only baby book in our house that doesn't scare (or bore) Rusty Iron silly. If you have a baby, or are thinking of getting one, I highly recommend this book. If you don't have a baby but are looking for a laugh, scroll down this page to read the Amazon review entitled "Objectifies Babies as if they were not already" for a case-in-point example of how crazy new parents/baby zealots can be.
I am reading an actual Challenge book right now, which I'll hopefully be finishing up and posting about in a couple of days. It's good, but it's slow going.