Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Being An Idiot

** With an important update! **

If bookstores are any indication, the average person must be an idiot. Shelves are lined with “How To” books, self-improvement books, formulas for uncovering the secrets to life…

Problems in bed? Check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex. Can’t get your cupboards suitably organized? Try The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organizing Your Life. I must admit Evil Kev paled considerably when he saw that one, and began muttering the mantra he’s developed over the past eight years (‘No more storage. No more storage.’)

That meant he was actually tempted by The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Stress. And who wouldn’t be tempted by The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Rich? (Notice that it’s the books about getting rich and amazing sex that are in their third edition? Guess not as many people have issues with organization and stress. Of course, some say sex is a stress reliever, so perhaps the stress book is limited to sales to the celibate.)

The list goes on. Idiot guides to the Bible, to leadership, to English literature…

And we haven’t even touched on the ‘For Dummies’ books.

Who buys all these books? And what do you do with them when you have them? Bookshelves are either meant to be used for the books you read, or for stacking up volumes of books you want people to think you’re sophisticated enough to read. None of which matters in my case because I don’t let people in my house, but I have a hard time picturing all these idiotic guides lining the shelves. Take a date back to your place and shamelessly flaunt the fact that you need a complete idiot’s guide to tell you how to have better sex? Talk about proving the point of being an idiot – after all, I must get three hundred emails a day that tell me how to solve all my sexual needs… and I don’t have to pay for those.

I’ll actually admit to owning a few, though. We have one on sailing, because Evil Kev thinks he’s going to get a boat some day and sail the world. He’s waiting until he finds a girlfriend who’ll go with him, though.

I have one on criminal investigation and Forensics For Dummies, both of which prove CSI really doesn’t have a research department. But they have good make-up.

You know, I’m amazed by two things. One is the willingness of some people to let anyone tell them how to live their life. The other is the fact that everything has been reduced to a formula.

Seriously. What’s prompted my little tirade of the day is seeing a blog outline the simple steps to success. I shake my head at the idiocy of anyone who thinks you can get a book deal, become a movie star, make a million dollars or marry rich by following six easy steps. (And why do so many people readily take advice from people who aren’t successful? You think if some guy you’ve never heard of before knows the secret to wealth and success he’d take time off his yacht to tell you at a $399 luncheon? Be serious! Perhaps you need The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recognizing a Scam.) But I almost have to have a grudging respect for the people writing these books, because they’re making money off the fact that people don’t know how to think for themselves anymore.

Now, it sounds like I’m specifically picking on the Idiot’s Guide books, but I really don’t mean to. It isn’t even that there are self help books out there… It’s the volume of them. I got thinking of this yesterday, after reading a blog where someone asked a stranger “What do I do now?” It wasn’t a life-and-death situation, wasn’t to do with grieving over the loss of a loved one, or coping with an illness. They were waiting to hear back about a job they’d applied for.

Goodness. Can’t anyone think for themselves anymore?

Guess it’s a good thing you can buy Think For Yourself! And while you’re at it you can Think Yourself Thin and Think Yourself Rich and Think Yourself To Health, Wealth and Happiness.

They’ll have me hook, line and sinker if they come out with Willing Your House To Clean Itself.

** When I put a title in italics in this post, it was a made-up title. Or at least, I thought it was a made-up title. I most sincerely apologize to the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Frauds, Scams and Cons for getting the title wrong. Perhaps I need to re-think my plans to attend NoirCon in Philadelphia next year... Or I should hope that nobody's written The Complete Idiot's Guide To Hiring A Hitman yet.

17 comments:

Randy Johnson said...

Another scam(I'm pretty sure because I never watch them) are these real estate infomercials proliferating television. I think the only ones getting rich are the ones selling their courses. It's my feeling that if these people really had a guaranteed scheme, why let everyone else in on it and increase the competition?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Guess we need The Idiot's Guide to Understanding People Who Read Idiot's Guides. And why are they always in front of me in line?

Anonymous said...

What about Nanny 911, have you guys got that on your t.v? I'm just back from visiting my friend who was watching it!
People actually need a nanny to come in and teach them how to talk with their kids..... *speechless*
Is their a Dummy Guide for "how to talk to kids".
I can't say more without it turning into a rant!
Chelbel.

angie said...

I want that house cleaning guide! NOW!!! I'm horrible at that householdy crap. Truly. Horrible.

I own a few of the Idiot books - mostly for computer software - because I AM an idiot about some things. But yeah, I was shocked when I saw the range of subjects addressed the last time I was at a bookstore.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I agree Randy - if you have a guaranteed get rich scheme you keep it to yourself. If everyone is rich then who will work as your maid?

Patti, perhaps I can recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Going To The Cashier At The Best Time?

Chelbel... I'm hopeless with TV. I don't know if we have it or not. I'd love to see you rant!

Angie, I wonder if they have The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying a Book yet? And I am also an idiot when it comes to technology. However, I consider it part of my deliberate efforts to relate to the majority of the population - you have to embrace idiocy about something, so technology it is. ;)

Sandra Ruttan said...

(But seriously, who's going to admit to idiocy about sex? Now, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Women... Guaranteed best-seller.)

Randy Johnson said...

Sandra, you'd have to write that book. No man could and even with such a book, most of us would screw it up.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Maybe a man could have it ghost-written?

I'm now off in search of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Getting Your Foot Out of Your Mouth...

M. G. Tarquini said...

I used one of the 'Dummies' books to learn to code HTML.

kris said...

I review business and management books as a small aside. What I've learnt over the past three years is that the majority of these 'self-help' authors are talentless dunderheads, unscrupulous predators, or both.

Most such books are the literary equivalent of those ab machines they sell on late night TV - a quick fix offered to those desperate or unhappy enough to get sucked in by it.

Evil Kev said...

Hey!

I bought that complete idiot's guide to sailing so I WON'T look like a complete idiot on the boat.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Mindy, that must be my mistake. I'm still blundering along...

Kris, I think some self-help books are a bit scammy, but not all. Has anyone written The Complete Idiots Guide To Training A Husband? I'd be all over that. ;)

Evil Kev, you're forgetting that I have seen you on a sailboat. And didn't you buy the book after we went on that sailing trip with Steve and Alison? I'm pretty sure you did.

Daniel Hatadi said...

I know it's a simple idea, but it would be so easy to replace them all with one book:

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Being Smart

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I'd buy that one....
Chelbel

norby said...

I own the Dummies Guide to Vista because that OS is a complete mystery to anyone with a brain. I'm actually starting to regret my decision not to go with the mac-shut up Sandra.

I've chelbel when she gets going-it's a wonder to behold.

Sandra Ruttan said...

There you go Daniel, that's your bestseller title right there! Chelbel agrees!

Norby, it's about time you saw the light. ;)

Daniel Hatadi said...

You know, I could see that title really working for a con-man novel.