Book Review: How to be a Geek Goddess

My co-worker (and Men’s Auxiliary Member), Ben, tipped me off a few weeks ago that there was a book being published by No Starch Press (one of his favorite resources for geek books) called How to be a Geek Goddess. I contacted the publisher and they were kind enough to put me in touch with the author, Christina Tynan-Wood (@xtyan), and send me a copy of the book.

I’m currently on vacation in the Coachella Valley (ah, sunshine feels good on my pale Minnesota skin!) and, while on the three-hour flight and lounging in the desert, have been perusing the book. My verdict? Excellent!

I’d highly recommend this book as a gift this holiday season, either to yourself or to a woman in your life who’s looking for a handy desk reference on all things geek. Tynan-Wood gives simple, but not condescending, instructions on everything from purchasing to outfitting your computer and everything that goes along with it.

In a very funny prologue, Tynan-Wood describes her husband as a “pompous ass” — a rather typical male tech-know-it-all. I laughed out loud at this, because I read it after I caught my husband paging through the book, rolling his eyes at her diagram of a mouse (right click, left click, scrollbar). Yeah. I married a pompous ass, too (and I mean that in a really loving way, honey!).

So, yes. The book contains things as simple as a diagram of a mouse, but you know what? Some people need that. And — despite Mr. Wilker’s eye-rolling — there’s no shame in that. Knowledge is power, and this book doles out tech knowledge from A to Z. What I like about the book is how comprehensive it is — even I, a self-described Geek Girl, learned a thing or two. Those who are just beginning to dip their toes into Interweb waters will learn even more, but won’t find it overwhelming.

While the book is structured in chapters, one certainly doesn’t need to read it cover-to-cover for it to make sense, or be a valuable resource. It would serve as a great desk reference for any woman aspiring to girly geekdom. Skip to Chapter 7 to learn how to set up a wireless network at your house, Chapter 9 for handy info on how to keep your kids safe online, or start at Chapter 1 if you need a guide on how to buy yourself a new computer. She really covers all the bases, and does so with good humor.

She also touches on what I think is an important point for women when it comes to embracing (or not embracing) technology. And this also came up in our Geek Out Room at the MIMA Summit this year. It’s relevance. Namely, that it’s okay to not be interested in technology for technology’s sake. For many women, technology is only interesting to the point that it’s relevant to one’s life. As in, how can this web application or gadget make my busy, insane life easier? Tynan-Wood does a great job illustrating how the technologies she describes can be applied to one’s life.

There are a few too many shoe-shopping references for my tastes, but I’m willing to admit that I’m a female anomaly in my dislike of shopping (shoe or otherwise) and her metaphors often do make sense. Software really can be considered an accessory in my world! All-in-all, the book is a fantastic tech bible for women: witty, informative and comprehensive.

The author was kind enough to agree to an interview with me; now that I’ve read the book, I’ll be contacting her. But before I do, do you have any questions you’d like me to ask? Either post to comments, use our Ask the Geeks form, or email me at meghan [at] geekgirlsguide [dot] com.

You can check out the Christina Tynan-Woods’ Geek Girlfriends blog here.