A friend loaned me a small book yesterday (Lee Killough's Checking on Culture) on building realistic structures of culture and ecology in a created world. The author had several suggestions for further reading, but provided an excellent checklist for cultural components, everything from law to cosmetics. There were brief examples scattered throughout the text, many of which were reminders about the variations in human culture through societies. Some examples were taken from the author's work, but these were relevant and gave an author's eye viewpoint that tended to encourage one's own interest in how or why to include a component. On the whole, a handy overview with a checklist that I'm looking forward to using.
I was disappointed by the lack of an editorial hand in the text's grammar, however. The author used several sentence fragments, along with several "..." that could have been better converted to other structures. While I don't feel this takes away from the information presented in the text, it does make it read more awkwardly and is distracting. I've gotten over feeling like ogre saying that grammar and proper editing is important--if it reads like unpolished English, then the reader is not only distracted by the errors but is also cheated of the casual confirmation of existing grammatical structures that reinforce his or her grammatical understanding.
While grammar may be a luxury at this point, the information provided in the text is something that will improve my own understanding of stories that I'm reading. When I have the opportunity, I'm going to pick up a copy of Checking on Culture for my own reference shelf (rapidly expanding into several shelves).