Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dummies for Dummies

Happy 25th birthday to the perfect guides for when all you know is that you know nothing.

Jordan Crane

There’s something distinctly democratic about the how-to guide, whose schtick is selling confidence to the amateur. You don’t need to be an expert, or spend years apprenticing under one, the genre promises. Just read these instructions, and voila, you too can make a quilt or write a screenplay or repair a Honda Civic.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the “For Dummies” brand, the black-and-yellow king of the modern how-to. Today there are 1,950 Dummies titles and counting: Jazz for Dummies, Canadian Wine for Dummies, The Internet for Dummies, Homeschooling for Dummies, Sex for Dummies, Congress for Dummies. Is your house a mess? Buy Feng Shui for Dummies. Have cancer? Try Chemotherapy and Radiation for Dummies. Are you a dummy? Critical Thinking for Dummies could help. The blurb on the cover of Iguanas for Dummies says it all: “If you only get one book on iguanas,” says a noted reptile veterinarian, “this is the one to choose.” 

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