Book Review: How to Be a Geek Goddess (Win a Copy!)

By Linsey Knerl on 29 December 2008 126 comments

If you’re a Twitter-fiend, a long-time blogger, or you customize PC’s in your spare time, this book is probably too elementary for you.  If there’s a special lady in your life who could use a little lesson in basic computer skills and etiquette, however, I’ve found a solid guide for you (and her.) 

Christina Tynan-Wood and No Starch Press have put out a perfect beginner’s manual to all things computer.  How to Be a Geek Goddess:  Practical Advice for Using Computers with Smarts and Style has it all.  Written from the perspective of a tech-savvy chic who  has written for the pages of PC World and PC Mag, it combines girl-speak with street smarts.  This book addresses all the core issues with little fluff, slang, or double-speak. 

Some of the topics are covered in traditional chapter style.  Others are discussed with “Dear Abby” type sidebars that use wit and wisdom to relay the message.  Sample subjects include: 

  • Buying a PC (or Mac):  What do you really need, and how much will it cost you?
  • Customizing your setup:  Get your settings just the way you like them.
  • Shopping online:  Where to find the best of everything for less.
  • Security 101:  Worms, and Botnets, and Viruses. (Oh my!)
  • Social Networking for Dummies: So you want to be on Facebook? 

Other cool chapters in the book go over digital camera specs, DVR, and how to have a wireless network.  While the details are basic (and you’ll probably need additional info to actually set up your home office), you can get an idea of what’s needed to achieve your desired results – and feel fairly confident doing so.   

Note:  Chapter 12 is titled, “The Sexy Geek” and upon first glance, appears to give advice on hooking up online.  A little reading will tell you, however, that this section is just an outline of dating resources, tips for having a safe internet relationship, and a page and half of links to more titillating online entertainment (i.e. p*rn for women.)  Keep in mind that while there’s nothing overtly explicit in the content, this book is written for the mature woman (not your adolescent daughter.) 

Who’s this book designed for?  While definitely aimed at women (it’s complete with handbag references and fashionable USB accessories), it’s actually a well-written approach that any gender can appreciate.  If you’re especially concerned that a grandma, aunt, or sister needs a bit of a tech lesson (and don’t wish to have all the responsibility fall upon yourself), this book can be a lifesaver.  Likewise, if your uncle happens to skim a few chapters, it can only enrich his computer usage. 

Like a much-needed pep talk from a well-meaning friend, How to Be a Geek Goddess is heavy on the help, light on the lingo. And isn’t that what women really want? 

Want to give it a read?  No Starch Press has 4 new copies of How to Be a Geek Goddess to send to a few lucky Wise Bread readers.  To enter the giveaway, post a comment below by January 9th, 2009. U.S. and Canada only.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner. 


Average: 3.3 (4 votes)
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Guest's picture

Umm.. sorry to be a dissenting opinion here, but am I the only one who finds this a little offensive? Women need technical directions peppered with comments about purses and accessories? This carries the age old stereo types that women are less technical/mathematically inclined and need things specifiaclly dumbed down for them to understand. As a very girly-girl who also happens to be a software engineer, I can't help but feel the whole concept of this is ridiculous. From my experience with clients of every demographic I can tell you that user friendly tech books are good but not needed for one gender more than any other.

Guest's picture

i would love to win this book! :-)

Guest's picture

After my experience trying to first fix my "broken" laptop and shop for a new one this week, I know I need this book in my life.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I understand where you may be concerned that the book is too stereotypically condescending towards women... a concern that flew out the window when I read the book for the first time.  Yeah, there are mentions of traditionally "female" interests (raising kids, hanging with girlfriends, etc.) but the handbag and jewerly references are less prominent and more naturally incorporated into the book.  (There are just as many gender-neutral references, if not more.)

That's what I love about this book.  It's designed to make women feel confident about technology, something that I can only applaud.  But it's by no means exclusive in its language, ideals, or guidance -- any man would enjoy the tips just as much.

In a nutshell, what makes it "chic-friendly" is that it doesn't assume you know everything already... something that often becomes an issue when perusing largely male-populated tech forums or reading more mainstream tech magazines.

This could have just as easily been titled, "How to be a Geek."  But then how many of those who have already been turned off by traditional tech advice resources would buy it?  And in doing so, would miss out on the opportunity to become empowered in their newfound technological proficiency?

Thanks for the comments!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

This would be a super fun read - pick me pick me!!! :)

Guest's picture

I could use this definitely!

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Alice Hansen

This sounds like a really funny and useful book - thanks for the chance!

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Renee G

I'd love to have a copy of this.


Guest's picture

Hello! Such a great idea for a book and one that I could really use! I know only the rudimentary basics, like how to turn the computer on. Then, I can post comments like this one. Please enter me in your delightful giveaway drawing! Many thanks,

Guest's picture

I'd love to be entered for this book since I'm not very computer savy. THanks for entering me! :)

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Ruth Mullen

I'd love a copy to share with my mother-in-law, who is willing -- I'd even say bold -- but doesn't always know where to begin. It would be awesome to get her on Facebook with my kids!
Thanks for the contest and a happy and frugal NY
Ruth Mullen

Guest's picture

My mom really could use this. :)
I've been a lurker on this site for some time now, this is my first post, but would like to say keep up the great work!

Guest's picture

I'd love to win this. I am the only girl, with three brothers who are much more at ease with all that tech stuff. I could level the playing field and maybe impress them-and my son!-with this book.

Guest's picture

I really need this book. My husband works in IT and alot of the time I have no idea what he's talking about when he talks about work. Thanks!

Guest's picture

as above, as above.

Guest's picture

Oh pleasepleaseplease choose me to win a free copy of this book. I've got the "geek" part downpat, the "goddess", not so much. With four children and a husband all far more computer savvy than I, you'd think I would have all the help I need to navigate the information highway, but alas, 'tis not so. My frequent requests for assistance in all things computer related are met with frowns and stern "I showed you this yesterday! What's so hard?" What can I say, for me, it is. I'm hoping this book would help.

Thank you,

Guest's picture

It would be great to be able to be seen as intelligent by my husband when it comes to computers. I'm sure he is tired of that "huh????" look I give him as he tries to explain something PC.
Would love the book. Thank You

Guest's picture

This book sounds right up my alley....

Guest's picture

I need this book, my kids make fun of me because i'm so backward when it comes to tech stuff. Let me know if they ever come out with a book on cellphones, tv remotes, etc Thank You..

Guest's picture

Hi! I'm doing volunteer work for a group that works with people in poverty . This would be great to help teach them new skills. Any skill you learn nowadays can help youi in the job market. Thanks for the giveaway. Lisa

Guest's picture

Wow, that chapter on facebook/social networking sites would be a big help- I am embarassed to admit I'm 20-something and still "illiterate" in those sites! Thanks!

Guest's picture

This book sounds like a fun read and I imagine that it will definitely help a lot of people. However, sometimes it gets a little old when it's assumed that women know very little about technology and only want "pretty" laptops and other gadgets? We can handle industrial strenght, and besides, there are plenty of boys out there who don't have a clue what they're doing either! ;-)

Guest's picture

Boy, am I glad that I learned about computers in my years in offices! But there is always more to digest, as technology keeps on keeping on....

Guest's picture

No more late night calls to my daughters-"Help, my computer is frozen" or "what the hell happened to my 3 page letter-it's GONE"!.
This 53 Yeal Old Mom really wants to be a "Geek Goddess".

Guest's picture

I don't think I'll be interested in the fashion section ( unless they suggest products like the Personal Area Network t-shirt ), but the other bits sound interesting and a great addition to my bookshelf.
Actually, I would really enjoy a portable electronic edition... (published in PDF... just a suggestion)

Guest's picture

this is what i'm looking for...