The Know-It-All’s Guide to Life: How to Climb Mount Everest, Cure Hiccups, Live to 100, and Dozens of Other Practical, Unusual, or Just Plain Fantastical Things


With wit and brevity this book contains useful advice on personal finance, health, sports, travel, automobiles, careers, and food. For example, in just six pages you will learn how to negotiate with a contractor. Consider some of the other facts brought to light in The Know-it-all’s Guide to Life: o Eating chocolate before bedtime can disrupt your sleep. o 40 percent of totaled cars are fixed up and resold to unsuspecting buyers. o You can acquire a genuine British title of nobility for as little as $5,000. o By writing just one letter, you can eliminate most of the junk mail you receive. o You can lose weight by chewing sugarless gum. o You need to own at least 20 different stocks to have a well-diversified portfolio. o You will improve your recall if you skim written material first, then read it through completely. o Mashed potatoes and gravy are a healthier fast food choice than french fries. Whether you are a do-it-yourself or just intellectually curious, this book is the ultimate guide to modern life

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Like millions of other Americans, I treat bookstores as my private library. When I want to know something, I pull a how-to book off the shelf, skim it, furiously take mental notes, and then return it to the shelves for the next consumer to rough up. It’s no wonder bookselling is a tough business. Well, who wants to spend $30 on a book just to look up how to cut crown molding (upside-down and backwards) by the way? Don’t get me wrong. I love those old Time-Life guides with illustrations of people wearing bell-bottom pants installing their own ceiling tile. Step-by-step books are great for hobbyists and weekend carpenters. But let’s face it, most “instructional” books are overloaded with arcane details just so the authors can show how smart they are. Then there are books that purport to offer the “secret” to something (losing weight, curing wrinkles, growing hair, etc.). The trouble is, you might read one book only to find another one pushing a completely different theory. Take a stroll through your local library and you’ll see that the half-life of each new miracle cure is about six months. Who has time to keep up with all this stuff? You need the straight scoop and nothing but. Life’s too short; after all, to waste time plowing through books written by fast-buck doctors, talk-show hosts turned authors, and former vice presidents. So to make your life simpler, I’ve written the Know-it-all’s Guide to Life, a wry, wisenheimer’s look at approximately 90 subjects, ranging from the practical (how to stop solicitors) to the fantastical (how to travel to space). Although it’s lighthearted, the material presented is serious. Each chapter is a distillation of the best advice available on a given topic. I’ve done the research so you won’t have to. Besides my personal experience, I’ve read dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and interviewed numerous experts to assemble this guide.

The topics have not been selected scientifically. You will find chapters on health, sports, careers, finance, food, travel, and politics, among others. Some chapters will prove useful to you, others will not. But I think you will find most of them entertaining.

A handful of serial how-to books boldly proclaim their target market to be readers who identify themselves as dummies, idiots, or fools. Not this book. The target audience for The Know-it-all’s Guide to Life is smart people with a high degree of intellectual curiosity. If you are a news hound, trivia buff, do-it-yourselfer, or all-purpose aficionado, this book is for you. So flip through a few of the chapters, and I’m sure you will find that this is one book you can’t afford to put back on the shelf.

—John Walbum


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