Why use these Teach Yourself books? Why not just Google the subject?
Has Google killed off the need for basic introductions to factual subjects? Why get a book - whether printed or electronic - when more information than you can possibly need is available at a click of a mouse?
Google is wonderful; I use it all the time. If I want to see what’s new, I’ll trawl the net. I check on books, get reviews, look at people's personal comments and blogs. I go to university websites to see what’s being included in courses; I scan publishers’ sites to see what’s coming up. There’s just so much material out there, it’s impossible to keep tabs on everything that’s worth knowing about.
And that’s the problem. If you have a very specialised interest (I’m a nerd for Nikon cameras and lenses) you can just about keep pace, but what if you need to get a quick overview of a subject? How do you know that the website you’re looking at is going to give you a balanced and objective view, or a particular and partisan slant on the subject?
That’s where these introductory books come in useful. What I try to offer is a conceptual framework for each subject – a set of pegs upon which all the other material out there on the web and in other books can be hung. Once you have a good grasp of the key ideas and arguments in any subject, you can place new information in context and appreciate its significance.
But it’s also important to push boundaries. So, although my books attempt to be balanced and fair to all arguments and points of view, it’s also good to explore some new ideas and to ask questions that challenge common assumptions.
These books may not give you all you might want to know about a subject, but they’ll certainly offer you an informed view about why you might want to know it and how to make sense of it.
So if you want to get your head round a subject, get your head into one of these books!