Don’t Try This At Home review

Don’t Try This At Home: How to Win a Sumo Match, Catch a Great White Shark, Start and Independent Nation, and Other Extraordinary Feats (for Ordinary People) by Hunter S. Fulghum

Broadway Books, 2002. 978-0-7679-1159-7

Synopsis: Ever wondered what it took to win a sumo match or smuggle secret document out of the country or break into Fort Knox? This book can tell you how! People are willing to try dangerous things all the time, so why not learn how to do them for yourself? While many of the activities could result in both physical injury and jail time, reading about them can broaden your horizons of the silly and outlandish feats not to be attempted by ordinary people. Includes instructions for swimming the English Channel, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, sinking a submarine, borrowing the Mona Lisa, meeting aliens at Area 51, and much more.

Why I picked it up: It says, “Don’t Try This At Home”, why wouldn’t I pick it up? It’s kind of like wanting to do something after your parents/other adult tells you not to.

Why I finished it: The book is largely humorous and the author is careful to give a warning to the reader about the risks involved with each of the feats detailed, presenting them in hypothetical situations. While some of the feats are normal (swimming the English Channel), others border on the ridiculous (starting an independent nation). In fact, quite a few make use of basic science that we learn in school but seem to have no practical application (besides chemistry = cooking). Mostly, I delighted in the random knowledge of how to do things that, truth be told, don’t necessarily appeal to me on a ‘I feel a need to do X’ level. But, the facts in the book can definitely be fun conversations – seriously, how many people do you know that could tell you how to win at jousting or rappel off the Eiffel Tower – or research for your next creative writing project. Chances are, people will be impressed.

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