"The How-To Handbook" by Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson

c.2013, Zest Books $10.99 / $13.99 Canada 127 pages

This summer, your parents say that you’ll be doing more around the house.

Your chore list almost doubled, in fact, because they want to prepare you for the future: cooking, cleaning, caring for your own clothes, money-management, car repair, things like that. This summer, they’re challenging you and it’s kinda scary.

For instance, what if you mess up? What if you do something wrong? Maybe you should ask for help. Or maybe you should read "The How-To Handbook" by Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson.

So you’re going to take more responsibility around the old homestead this year. You’ve got plenty to learn, and "The How-To Handbook" can help.

As the new House Chef, you’ll need to know your way around the kitchen, for instance. You’ll have to learn to create a menu of healthy, balanced meals. You may need help peeling potatoes, unjamming a jar, chopping onions, making (and breaking) eggs, or finding recipes. This book has all that, plus instructions on setting a proper table and making a good cup of tea. Then you’ll learn how to clean up safely, and properly load the dishwasher.

All this meal-making stuff is great, but what if you decide you want to get a job and make some cash, too? Again, this book is a big help: start gift-wrapping business, clean windows or clean a room (in five minutes!), do laundry (start to finish), erase a stain, mend a seam, thread a needle, and sew on a button with the info you’ll find here. Learn how to do yard work, wash a car, or fix a tire (vehicle or bike). And, of course, with all this moola you’ll be making, learn how to manage your money.

But remember – you can’t work all summer. You’ve got to have some fun, so why not take a little trip? Learn how to tie sturdy knots, pitch a tent, and take care of yourself with simple first-aid. Know how to banish motion-sickness, pack a suitcase, and how to stay safe in the city. And don’t forget to take pictures. You’ll find out how with this helpful book!

Looking for a quick and informative read that might help you navigate this summer? You’ll find it here… but beware. Though authors Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson can make life easier with "The How-To Handbook," there’s advice in this book that might need caution.

Starting with easy-to-do chores and working up to tasks that require a little more finesse, this book makes sticky problems a lot easier with step-by-step instructions and quick line drawings for clarification. That’s great, when it comes to cooking, repairs, appearance, and fun. But Oliver and Johnson also give readers tips on things like popping zits (not generally recommended), and some of the first-aid advice seemed lacking.

I don’t think this is bad information – it just needs to be used with a level head, so if you’re mature enough for that, then grab it. For teens ages 14 and up, "The How-To Handbook" might be something to have around the house.

"Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville " by Michael Streissguth

c.2013, It Books, HarperCollins $26.99 / $28.99 Canada 304 pages

The first time you heard that song, you were stunned.

You wanted to turn around and listen to it again. Was the singer following you around? Did the writer peek into your heart? Because every word, every note exactly mirrored how you felt, the hurts you lived, the struggle you endured.

To get that feeling, you just know that the songwriter had to go through that same pain. And in the new book "Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville" by Michael Streissguth, you’ll see that each struggle was worth it.

Music executives and critics visiting Nashville in the 1960s were nothing but critical: the city had a ban on booze sold by the glass, rock & roll shows were attended by police, hillbillies were everywhere and so was segregation – though Nashville did have a reputation for being progressive on race.

Willie Nelson came to Nashville in 1960 after ten years of odd jobs and Texas honky-tonks. He was a clean-cut kind of guy then, and had some success as a songwriter for many major acts, but he wanted to record his own music. He first signed on with Monument Records, but when production slowed more than to his liking, he left Monument and signed on with Chet Atkins and RCA – and fumbled.

Not long after Willie soft-landed onto the Nashville scene, Waylon Jennings came to Nashville against Willie’s advice. Though Willie told Waylon that the city would break his heart, Waylon quickly landed a gig at a club and was "king" in short order. He had a good reputation for music, money – and pills. He also had a stubborn streak, much to Chet Atkins’ chagrin when Waylon signed on at RCA.

In the summer of ‘65, Captain Kris Kristofferson, on his way to teach British literature at West Point, stopped at Nashville to meet with a music publisher. Captain Kristofferson grew up in Brownsville, Texas, listening to the Grand Ole Opry show and dreaming of joining Hank Williams onstage. He wrote songs like Hank, from college to his Rhodes Scholar days, to his stint with the military.

A few days after arriving in town, he resigned his commission at West Point.

Willie left Nashville for Texas, but returned. Waylon married Jessi and reluctantly gained some Angels as bodyguards. Kris found Hollywood. And Chet Atkins had to step aside for the outlaw path…

I was torn about this book.

On one hand, "Outlaw" is filled with all kinds of names that only the biggest fans will recognize. Yes, the musicians you loved are mentioned in this book, but so are a lot of minor players from thirty and forty years ago.

And yet, I liked this book. Author Michael Streissguth shares tidbits, tales, and telling facts about the three main Outlaws who started a revolution and changed an American institution.

(The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.)