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As the song says, this is the season to be jolly. But with it comes a series of personal disasters not limited to people fighting over electronics or toys, blizzards leaving airplanes and passengers stranded, eating too much at Thanksgiving and so on. Through all these experiences we need some books that remind us both that yes, things are really as bad as they seem, but worse things have happened and probably can’t happen to you. If you have a loved one you want to get through waiting in line at the department store or through a Black Friday mini-apocalypse, these are some book recommendations you could give them:
1. The Darwin Awards: Countdown to Extinction by Wendy Northcutt
You may be “I-punched-a-stranger-in-the-face-over-this-DVD-of-Dolph-Lundgren-movies-on-Black-Friday” dumb, but you will never be “I treated a snake bite” with a taser dumb. Or at least, we’d hope not. This book details how stupid people can be sometimes, announcing that we may be closer to our own end than we’d like.
2. F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson
You may have failed your test, but hey, at least your answers made some sense. We doubt you could say the same thing about the answers collected in this book.
3. Doomsday Preppers Complete Survival Manual: Expert Tips for Surviving Calamity, Catastrophe, and the End of the World by Michael Sweeney.
If the first book on the list is anything to go by, we may need this soon. Why not be prepared? And although the world may not end soon, disaster always seems to be around the corner. Better to know how to respond than otherwise. And if you’re already prepared, this might help you see what you’re missing and not make you feel so crazy.
4. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay
Obi-Wan Kenobi once said: “Who is the fool? The fool or the one who follows the fool?” Time and time again, we’ve seen the second part of that sentence come true, and no one was more aware of it than Charles MacKay who summed up a series of events that truly made humanity seem dumb and crazy in the 19th century. The scary part is that things may not have changed all that much.
5. The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside “The Room”, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.
How far and how low can a person go to make his dreams come true? This book provides the answer.
6. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
Not only will this book make you wonder if the person next to you might be a psychopath, but it will leave you thinking of the person who determines that IS the psychopath.
7.The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success by Kevin Dutton.
Ever thought you might have picked out the right answers from the wrong people? This book will show you that maybe the people we thought crazy aren’t so crazy after all.
8. This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works by John Brockman
Sometimes things are simpler and even nicer than they seem. This compendium of theories from some of the most brilliants minds today will make you wonder if you and everyone else has been complicating things far too much.
9. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patient by Ben Goldacre
Chris Martin once sang “Am I part of the cure or am I part of the disease?”, well, as a Mexican refrain says: Sometimes the remedy is worse than the disease. This book perfectly exemplifies that.
10. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
For too many people, the mind can play tricks that are completely out of their control. These cases range from simply fascinating to tragic, and the late Sacks explored them with his compassionate and engaging writer’s voice, giving us a book that will make us mind the mind.
11. The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara Pease and Allan Pease
What is everyone saying without speaking? Can a movement of a finger give us away? This book will have you watching out for what people are REALLY saying, and making you aware of what you are telling people without saying a word.
- 12. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
A revealing yet inspiring look at humanity’s gullibility. A book that makes us question everything we’re told and propels us to look beyond.
13. 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True by Guy P. Harrison
Ever thought that everyone around you is wrong about everything? Or what if you’re the one who’s wrong? This book will surely let you know.
14. PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren
Give people anonymity and they’ll tell you everything. This book will make you wonder what secrets everyone holds.
15. Texts from Last Night: All the Texts No One Remembers Sending by Lauren Leto and Ben Bator
Don’t drink and dial. Don’t drink and text. Well, you didn’t listen, now you’re in this book. Just check out how embarrassing people can be.
16. Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite ad Hilariously Hostile Writings by Kerry Miller
Direct, short texts can always be a risky way to communicate because tone cannot be judged. This makes it easier for some people to be aggressive to the point of hilarity. This collection shows off how.
17. There I Fixed It!: (No, You Didn’t) by Cheezburger Network
Do you like to skip the instructions? Ever had a situation where you’ve fixed something only for it to mysteriously self-destruct? Chances are you are a part of this book.
18. Awkward Family Pet Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack.
Pets. Everyone who has them, loves them. Some of us love them too much, and well, we end up looking dumber than them as this book showcases.
19. Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates.
There are plenty of Cake Boss-wannabes, but only one Cake Boss. Watch out next time when you ask an, ahem, pro to bake you a cake.
20. I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups by Sharon Eliza Nichols.
How can you trust the roads you drive on, the people you shop from when they make the most awful mistakes when simply writing something?
21. People of Walmart: Shop and Awe by Luke Wherry, Adam Kipple and Andrew Kipple
No better place to question humanity than Wal-Mart. Now all documented in this book.
22. 1001 Facts that Will Scare the Sh#t Out of You: The Ultimate Bathroom Reader by Cary McNeal
Does everyday life frighten you? Do you question if people have something to hide? This book is for you.
23. Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness and Mythconceptions Throughout the Ages by Leland Gregory
Sadly, people being dumb isn’t anything new. This book will teach you that, but also wow you with all sorts of weird tales about us, the human race.
24. The Mammoth Book of Losers by Karl Shaw
Hey, look, maybe there’s a precedent for the failures of everyone you know. This is a book you should get them along with an Ancestry.com membership.
25. Stupid Ancient History by Leland Gregory
Ah, Ancient Greece. The great time of humanity. Not really. This book will make you wonder if we’ve ever really had a great time of intellectual illumination.
26. Emails from an A**hole: Real People Being Stupid by John Lindsay
Ever gotten an e-mail and wondered “What were they thinking?” and hoped there weren’t more people like that? Sadly there are.