The Indispensable Book of Practical Life Skills

by Rachel Baker on September 20, 2009

Have you ever wondered how to draft proof the front door?  or how to double dig?  Or what about, how to wash cashmere or how to baby-proof your home?  or how to tie different knots and how to pitch tents – the old fashion ones, not the new-fangled ones you can buy? Well, these and other things that anyone could possibly what to do themselves is now in a handy reference guide titled The Indispensable Book of Practical Life Skills: Essential Lessons in Everything You Need to be a Fully Functioning Adult (Hammond). 

This odd-shaped book is chock full of everything one could possibly wonder about how to do themselves – even right down to how to roll a joint (which I did find a little odd, but Okay).  This reference book is broken into four major sections:  Home and Yard, Health and Beauty, Travel and Sports, and Accident and Emergency.  Each section is color coded for convenient reference.  Each page, is illustrated and laid out in a visually appealing way with an introduction to the task, explaining the task.  there are “indispensable warnings” and/or historical facts (which the authors call “brain training” about one area of the task.  There’s easy step by step instructions (with pictures) on how to accomplish the task, as well as a list of all the indispensable tools you will need to complete the task.

Truly, this is a neat reference book.  It’s informative and entertaining, well laid out and visually appealing.  But I’m not really sure who the target market is. In today’s world, most people just turn on their computer and search “how to get a baby to sleep through the night” or “how to measure for the proper sized bra” or “how to make a kite.”  You could give this book as a gift, but I think you’d have to be careful that something with a subtitle that says “Essential lessons in everything you need to be a fully functioning adult” would not imply you didn’t think the recipient wasn’t already a fully functioning adult.  Divorcees are out, Widowers are out – might be taken as emotionally insensitive. Young adults will just type in what they want to know in their favorite search engine.  And anyone in between, if they don’t already know how to do it, will either ask their favorite search engine, or their favorite expert.

I think The Indispensable Book of Practical Life Skills: Essential Lessons in Everything You Need to be a Fully Functioning Adult will be one of those books that may sit for a long period of time on someone’s shelf or coffee table, but will eventually be useful.  I could actually see leaving this book with your outdoor gear, so you have something useful on hand which could help with accidents and emergencies when you are no where near civilization (i.e., hospitals, the internet, cell phone towers).  I actually thought the Accidents & Emergency and the Travel & Sports section was the best part, and saw the immediate use for this while out camping/hiking/fishing.  The only reason, in my humble opinion, these were the best, was one may actually need to figure out how to build a shelter, how to survive the heat and how to figure out what direction they are heading if they are lost in the wild, and more importantly, know how to save a life without having a whole lot of time to find an expert.

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