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Book Review: 'Home Ec For Everyone' And 'Shop Class For Everyone' Teach Practical Life Skills

The COVID-19 pandemic turned some of my friends into master do-it-yourselfers. Quarantined at home, they took on home improvement projects, learned to quilt, went crazy with sourdough starters and baked artisan breads.

Me—not so much. I grew some tomatoes. I cooked some meals. But when it comes to most practical life skills, I’m still sorely lacking.

Enter, Sharon and David Bowers.

In two books coming out this week, the couple takes 201 projects and breaks them down into practical how-tos, with step-by-step instructions and illustrations. Home Ec for Everyone and Shop Class for Everyone feature everything you should have learned in those classes—had you enrolled.

Home Ec for Everyone offers a crash course in more than 100 skills, from frosting the perfect birthday cake to fixing a zipper or packing a suitcase. I learned how to fold a T-shirt the retail-store way. (Take that, friends who worked at The Gap!) I learned that pouring boiling water down your sink daily keeps pipes odor-free. I learned the trick for washing a down comforter. (When the comforter is halfway dry, throw a clean tennis ball in the dryer to fluff the down.)

Shop Class for Everyone features detailed instructions for 83 more projects, from repairing cracked plaster to replacing a faucet to staining wood to rewiring a lamp. I never took shop class—I played saxophone in band instead—but this book makes me wish I had. There’s a special satisfaction in learning to do something yourself.

The Bowers’ books would make wonderful gifts for the graduate or young adult in your life—or anyone learning to live on their own.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.