Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: The Misanthrope's Guide to Life (Go Away!)

Written by the authors of 2birds1blog, this book is a humorous look at human interaction, ways to avoid it, and coping strategies for when you can't. 

Misanthrope* (noun):
1. One who hates mankind; a curmudgeon; a loner.
2. The guy in your office who responded to your e-mail of baby photos with, "D-. Passing, but not college material."
3. A realist

The book opens by introducing us to the authors, giving a brief history of misanthropy throughout history, and then offers quizzes to help you determine if you are a misanthropist, and if so, what type.

We all have to deal with difficult people, but for some, the loathing runs deep. It's not just strangers that are a problem, it's any other homo sapien with a pulse. A plan is needed. One that contains multiple, creative coping strategies appropriate for any situation  a misanthrope may find themself in.

Frustrated with your coworkers? Find information about professions well suited to misanthropes, such as writer, trucker, and wilderness lady, as well as career choices to avoid. There are also tips for getting through the job interview, meetings management, surviving a conference, keeping your lunch hour to yourself, avoiding after work socialization, dealing with clingy coworkers, and more! I'm particularly fond of the section on "The Politics of Pooping: How to Get a Little Goddamn Privacy in the Ladies' Room", which offers tips like coughing and hacking to "mask all but the most volcanic sounds", timing a flush, and things to do while waiting someone out. All important coping skills.

Familial interactions got you down? Chapter 4 deals with "Sex, Love, and the Misanthrope" by offering suggestions on dealing with everything from your first encounter, to public proposals, to when a relationship goes down in flames. Who doesn't want to know how to avoid the "cuddle time", keep the wedding as small as it's possible to do while still being considered legal, and passive-aggressively end a relationship?

Chapter 5 covers parenting, with scenarios that start when the precious bundle of joy is still in utero, to finally getting them to fill the moving van. There's even a section on coping in the unlikely event that the misanthrope's child ends up in beauty pageants. I think the word "invaluable" best describes the section on getting out of going to the amusement park -- from getting someone else to take them, to convincing them the amusement park no longer exists, to alternative destinations there's something for everyone.

Other chapters on dealing with the family at holidays and keeping one's home as one's castle -- even if a moat isn't possible. For example, at Christmas: "Take the mistletoe down the minute you come in the door. You're a fully-grown adult Misanthrope, and you don't have to play 'Seven Minutes in Heaven' just because it's Christmas." Another favorite of mine offers this advice for dealing with door-to-door solicitors: "Take whatever literature they have and promise to return it with edits next week. Remember to check for mechanics and usage as well as content, always assign a grade, and try to leave helpful feedback". That should work.

Annoyed by the obnoxious strangers you have to deal with while on vacation or public transit? With chapters with suggestions for the misanthrope on vacation, in public venues, and on "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", there is no situation that is missed. Everyone can benefit from the suggestions for dealing with other people's cell phone conversations, and the world would be a better place for it.

I found this book was well-written, funny, intelligent, and relate-able, even though by their quiz standards I don't actually qualify for the title of Misanthrope. I would recommend this book, especially to anyone dealing with difficult people, but with the caveat that it's not really appropriate for younger readers or those who cannot stand any profanity or vulgarity. Just keep in mind that the book is supposed to be funny, so not all of the suggestions should be followed. Some might, in fact, be a very bad idea or even illegal. Check your local ordinances and proceed at your own risk!

*This definition is taken from the book.

No comments: