Recommended Books

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Categories: GIMP and image processing | Lunar astronomy | Other astronomy | Geology | Computers | Auto Maintenance | Other stuff (things that aren't books) | Search for other items

GIMP and image processing

[Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional]
(shameless plug)

Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional is my book on image processing using GIMP: the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Now out in its second edition! You can find a lot more information about the book at

Lunar Astronomy

Atlas of the Moon, Antonin Rukl.
An enduring classic for lunar observers. Long out of print, it's back now, and better than ever. No lunar observer should be without it.

A Portfolio of Lunar Drawings, Harold Hill.
I love this book. Hill is an amazing lunar artist, and you'll learn more than you think from studying his drawings.

Exploring the Moon Through Binoculars and Small Telescopes, Ernest H. Cherrington.
A terrific introduction to the moon. If you're intimidated by the amount of detail in Rukl's atlas, start with Cherrington and follow his day-by-day log.

The Once and Future Moon, Paul Spudis.
An excellent overview of lunar geology, the history of lunar observation, and prospects for returning to the moon.

A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin.
Painstakingly detailed coverage of the entire Apollo moon program, including the personalities, the science, the engineering challenges, and lots more background.

From the Earth to the Moon (DVD set)
This HBO miniseries, narrated by Tom Hanks, covers the entire Apollo program in surprisingly good detail. Loosely based on Chaikin's Man on the Moon.

Apollo 13 (DVD)
It's a good movie. 'Nuff said.

Planetary Astronomy

A Traveler's Guide to Mars, William K. Hartmann.
Don't let the title put you off: this is a detailed, thorough and modern review of what is known about Mars.

Deep-Sky Astronomy

Astro Cappella (CD), The Chromatics.
I'll put some astronomy books here soon, I promise. But meanwhile, I really enjoy this a capella CD of astronomy and space related music by The Chromatics.


Assembling California, John McPhee.
My first introduction to geology, which sparked a passion I'm still pursuing. McPhee is an engaging writer and this book will get you thinking regardless of whether you've studied geology before. (If you haven't, though, be ready to intuit the meaning of some geologic terms.) See also the next entry.

Annals of the Former World, John McPhee.
Assembling California is actually the final volume in McPhee's decade-long exploration of the nation's geology. This book collects all the volumes in the series previously published as separate books -- Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, and Assembling California -- and adds a fifth, Crossing the Craton.

The Control of Nature, John McPhee.
This is an old book which collects three essays on the subject of man's attempts to control natural forces. They're all thought-provoking, but the third, Los Angeles Against the Mountains, was a revelation to me: I grew up in Los Angeles' San Gabriel Valley but never really understood the mechanics of flooding and landslides there, nor the significance of the debris basins.

Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region, by Doris Sloan.

The first geology guidebook I've seen which covers the south bay and peninsula, not just San Francisco and Marin. It doesn't cover everything, but it has plenty of information you won't find elsewhere, and it's beautifully printed and full of color photographs by John Karachewski.

Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley, Robert P. Sharp.

A collection of interesting explorations in the Mojave and Death Valley areas. Not to be taken as a comprehensive geology book, this collection is sure to offer some ideas for trips you'd never have considered before, like the Victorville Narrows of the Mojave river.

The Practical Geologist, Dougal Dixon.

A charming little book full of fun experiments anyone can do to understand geology. Especially recommended for anyone who works with children or gives lectures to a popular audience.


The Linux Cookbook, Carla Schroder.
Carla has a wonderfully clear writing style, and in this book she offers simple recipes for all sorts of tasks the Linux user needs. (Full disclosure: she's a friend, editor and fellow LinuxChix member.)

DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model, Jeremy Keith.
A basic introduction to Javascript for people already somewhat familiar with HTML and CSS, this is a wonderfully clearly written book. I already knew quite a bit of Javascript (and other programming languages too) but I found the book useful anyway because of the clear, readable, no-nonsense style.
He also has a sequel I haven't read yet (just found out about it): AdvancED DOM Scripting: Dynamic Web Design Techniques

CSS: The Definitive Guide, Eric Meyer.
People keep recommending this book to me as the answer to all my thorny CSS questions, so I finally ordered it.

The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques by Martin Krafft. Considered the ultimate Debian guide, though even with the book you'll still end up googling for some aspects of package management.

Mapping Hacks, Schuyler Erle, Rich Gibson, Jo Walsh. A beautiful book, full of useful information, but I still found it somewhat disappointing becuase it didn't answer my perennial question: "How do I use those files from the USGS and turn them into maps I can actually see? How do I tell which formats are usable and which aren't?" Okay, those are two questions, but they're related. Still, this book is the best I've seen so far.

Cars and Car Repair

In an essay on fixing things on my blog, I mentioned a book that was incredibly helpful to me when I was getting started learning how to work on my own car: Poor Richard's Rabbit Book: How to Keep Your VW Rabbit/Scirocco Alive. Sadly, it seems to be out of print now, but there are still some used copies floating around.

Items that aren't books

I bought my husband a NordicWare microwave popcorn popper for Christmas, and he loves it. He's a popcorn addict, but those microwave popcorn bags have lots of oil and who knows what other additives in them, plus you have to throw away the bag. This way is much better: you can use any kind of oil, in any quantity including no oil at all, and there's no refuse to throw away. Amazon has two different links for them: NordicWare 12 Cup Popcorn Popper and Nordic Ware 12-Cup Microwaver Corn Popper. (Unfortunately it looks like both of them are backordered and take weeks to ship.)

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