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Home Comforts

The Art and Science of Keeping House

by Cheryl Mendelson

Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson X
Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson
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  • First Published:
    Nov 1999, 896 pages
    Apr 2005, 896 pages

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Everything You Need to Know About Keeping House
My mother freely admits that she does not like to "keep house." In fact, dusting is anathema to her. She rarely cooks these days. Is it obvious, then, that she didn't teach me how to care for my home?

Earlier, in my life, I wasn't that interested. Then, in my first real home of my own, I found that though I was interested, I had no idea where to begin.

There are other books that have more realistic and practical guidelines for how to keep up with the daily goings on but I have found "Home Comforts" to be a great reference tool. I have actually read it cover to cover, laughing at some of the suggestions and thinking to myself "as if I had time for THAT") but also making note of some useful bits.

I keep this book on my living room coffee table and I refer to it often. If you aren't one who thinks that they have to follow each and every suggestion to the letter, you'll find a lot of useful information. I found the writing style engaging. I've recommended this book to all sorts of people and I've given it to young friends and family members, all of whom have found it useful.
Steven Davis

the home nazi comes to towne
I have had this book on my shelves for nine years now, and have only cracked it three or four times in situations of truly penetrating boredom.

I would not recommend it to anyone. It's full of obsessive arcana, such as, for example, the "right" way to take a book off a shelf (with accompanying illustration; you were doing it wrong all along), and that you should dust your oil paintings once a year, with a tiny brush, from the top to the bottom.

This book makes people who are too busy to do housework feel even worse about themselves because the menu of "bare minimum" tasks that the author presents are far more than most of us do when we are doing housework at full tilt.

To put it another way: this book was meant to be the home equivalent of McGee's "On Food and Cooking," and in fact McGee gave it quite the laudatory blurb on the back of the first edition. I keep them both next to each other on the bookshelf in my kitchen. McGee's book I reference all the time, Mendelson's almost never. The sales are commensurate: On Food stays in the top 100-200 year after year, whereas Home Comforts is relegated to the 30,000+ basement.

Be warned: it will not make you happy, nor will it help you clean your home. Ask your mother and her friends what to do instead.
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