"Mike McGrath's Book of Compost" by Mike McGrath Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., $9.95 I'm sure we all see the obvious joke here, so let's...

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“Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost”

by Mike McGrath

Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., $9.95

I’m sure we all see the obvious joke here, so let’s just get it right out of the way: No, this book is not full of poop.

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This book is filled with knowledge.

McGrath, host of Public Radio’s “You Bet Your Garden,” has been making and using “black gold” for more than 20 years. So he knows (and now explains) how and why to make it, how and where to use it and how and why it works. It’s quite the comprehensive compost compilation.

McGrath says compost can solve just about every issue your garden can dish out — fertilizing, controlling weeds, improving soil, preventing plant diseases — and all cheaply and chemical-free.

His lighthearted approach and conversational writing style, accompanied by silly black-and-white cartoons by Signe Wilkinson, make the underlying scientific processes seem quite digestible — until you get to the manure pages, anyway.

OK — so maybe there is a little poop, after all.

— Sandy Dunham, Seattle Times desk editor

“The Tuff Chix Guide to Easy Home Improvement”

by Paige Hemmis

Plume, $16

It’s fine with us if Hemmis wants to write a book called “Tuff Chix” — but every time we see her on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” she ends up bawling like Baby Cry Me A River. Just sayin’.

Still, she’s earned her toolbelt (even if it is pink). Hemmis is a well-rounded construction junkie, and she has taught herself all the tools of the trade.

And you can’t fault her for wanting to help other women rely on themselves instead of Mr. Handyman.

She takes a clever approach, too, in what could have been just another everyday “how to” guide. Each project includes the requisite time investment, tool list and price guide, but she also throws in a “Tuff Meter” that rates the project’s complexity; a shopping list (woo-hoo!); and the estimated cost of hiring a professional, should you choose to bag the whole idea.

Hemmis touches on plenty of basic home projects — safety, repairs, maintenance, installations — but there are no photos to guide you (only small, unexplained illustrations). The writing is straightforward and understandable.

And there is a lot of pink in here — in the type, in the silly illustrations and in inexplicable swaths of what could be Pepto-Bismol smeared across random pages. Just so you get the message … this book is for chicks. Tuff chix, who like pink and aren’t afraid to cry.

— Sandy Dunham,Seattle Times desk editor