Monday, August 4, 2008

Something for Everyone

I took a trip to a bookstore to pick up a book I had ordered for school. The line was super long at the service desk so I spent a few minutes browsing. One section is called "Self Help and How To." The titles alone of the works in this section were a strange adventure in reading. Some brought an immediate laugh--the work whose subtitle was "raising kids for fun and profit" (kids are a debit/debt experience no matter how you raise them.) Others left me a bit puzzled as to why they had been written--"Bag "EM and Tag "EM: a deer hunter's how-to book and recipes too! A light-hearted book as macho as tire-kickin' and bar-fightin'." Try as I might, I couldn't visualize the type of person whom this book might appeal to actually sitting down and reading it. But it was a perfect pair for the book right next to it: "Now, Whadda We Do with This Dead Deer Cookbook and How-to Book." It's comforting to know that if I should ever stumble across a dead deer there is a book that will tell me in excruciating detail what I could do with it.

Then there was "The Soul of a Hustla: The Ultimate How-to-Book for Using Your Mind to Make a Fortune" by Ata Gonzalez. I'm sure I missed the author's point, but wouldn't knowing how to spell also be an advantage in making a fortune?

Want to get ahead in your job? There's "Cut out Make-Work in Your Job: The how-to Book of Goldbricking" by Calvin A. Slacker. And I'll eat my very large collection of hats if that is actually the author's real name. What are the chances of a slacker teaching others how to become slackers?

Right up there on the best seller list of how to books is "How To Fart Like a Lady and 39 Other Ideas for How To Books and Articles We Wish Someone Would Write." I'm sure the authors' mother is so proud of her daughters for their literary output. Can you just see her in conversation with her neighbors? "My daughters had a book published!" "That's great! What's it called?" Dead silence.

Then there was "The Complete How-To Book of Indiancraft: 68 Projects for Authentic Indian Articles." I would have thought that you would need to be an authentic Indian for this to work, but what do I know.

A candidate for "This reallly needed a different title" is "The Human Touch Performance Appraisal" (How-to Books Series). Any number of possibilities that this book could be about, none of them discussible on a family oriented blog.

In the something for everyone category there was "Finding the Magic: A History Book, How-To-Book, Philosophy Book, and most of all a Love Story." If the author can't figure out what the book is really about, why should I bother?

This next book actually had some possibilities for reading--"The Complete Idiot's Guide for Dummies: A How-to Book on Dumbing Down" by Dolt, Waldman, Coffey, Dullard and Dan Quail. A book on dumbing down authored by people named dolt and dullard, not to mention ex-Vice President Quail, surely the penultimate dummy? What's not to love? From a synopsis of the book: "A complete how-to guide for anyone who's aspiring to the asinine, The Complete Idiot's Guide for Dummies (along with its miniature, abridged, companion edition) puts you right on the cutting edge of imbecility." And they say there isn't a book for everyone.

For those looking for a fun, new hobby there is the " Avocado Pit Grower's Indoor how-to-Book" and its companion title "Citrus Seed Grower's Indoor how-to Book." The titles speak for themselves.

Apparently there are deeply held, burning interests out there that I have never been aware of. Otherwise, how could I explain "High Profile: A how to Book for Building, Belaying, and Use of Indoor Climbing Walls and Selected Ropes Course Elements." That perfect decorating touch for your living room.

So complex it needed a revised edition, there is the "How to Book of Shuffleboard Revised."

For those aspiring to exalted wifedom, there is "How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking." According to the publisher "this book by one of Britain's most recognized culinary personalities understands our anxieties, feeds our fantasies." Go ahead, persuade me that you have ever been inspired to fantasy by a cookbook.

I did find a how to book that did what it said it would do: "Awaken the giant within : how to take immediate control of your mental, emotional, physical & financial destiny." I immediately physically removed myself from in front of the book, saved myself a whole load of money I can use elsewhere by not buying the book, mentally congratulated myself on being too smart to spend money on this book and thus emotionally felt a lot better that I hadn't been suckered in.

There's even something for those looking to cash in on the "how to" craze: "Writing Successful Self-Help and how-to Books."

I'm 100% in favor of free speech and the right of people to express themselves. That doesn't mean that I am not sometimes puzzled at just what people have a burning need to say and publish.


Anonymous said...

The ex-VP is Dan Quayle; Mr. Quail is a pseudonym.

ProfK said...

Sigh Mike, mea culpa. But it is so like the type of book that he would have written. Who else could have said "A mind is a terrible thing to lose" when he meant to say (being generous) "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Anonymous said...

What, no practical books like "How to Marry a Millionaire" and it's frum version "How to Marry a Millionaire's Daughter"?

Anonymous said...

I know it wasn't your intention but I'm going to order those avocado pit and citrus seed books for our teaching staff. We've been trying to grow those seeds with our younger students and we haven't been too successful, which disappoints the kids. Yes, there really is a how to book for everyone and every need.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Actually, I was thinking that the seed-growing how-to's would be a perfect match for Juggling Frogs, but I would bet she knows how.


Anonymous said...

I had an unexpected day off today and my wife and I took the kids to the library. I couldn't resist asking the librarian about --"The Complete Idiot's Guide for Dummies:" and the library had it. So I started leafing through it and some of the advice is hysterically funny. I hope that most people would see the book as a real send up. On the other hand, one of my bosses must be using the book as a business manual.

Just a question--isn't the title redundant? Shouldn't it just be The Complete Idiot's Guide?

Anonymous said...

What's that old saying about how a fool and his money are soon parted? I guess publishers and book store owners need to pay for a Lexus too.

Anonymous said...

I thought you had made these up and then I ran a few of the titles online and they are real books. So they are real books but I have to ask why they are. Not at all the kinds of books I'd like to get as a gift and I can't see reading them.