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June 30, 2009

Elf Help, a Parlor Bookstore Game
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:10 PM * 209 comments

Oh, dear. The tough economic times have hit the chain bookstore where you work, and the orders have come down from Head Office: cut the SF&F department (possibly Horror as well).

Your store manager is a fan, however, and she’s made a stealthy swap. She stopped buying Self-Help books instead, changed a few shelf labels, and kept the entire SF&F section.

Unfortunately, people keep coming into the bookstore looking for self-help books, and all you have are genre. To cover for your manager, you’re going to have to find SF&F (and Horror, if desired) books to help these poor folk who are looking for guidance on their personal problems.

  • For instance, when that driven woman comes in looking for help raising her Indigo Child, suggest a copy of Ender’s Game.
  • And that gentleman who’s having height issues will no doubt benefit from a copy of The Warrior’s Apprentice, yes?
  • No doubt that bloke still dealing with the loss of his parents at an early age will find The Graveyard Book of great use.

Have I mentioned that your job is at stake here?*


* Yes, The Princess Bride would make a great study of different management styles.

Comments on Elf Help, a Parlor Bookstore Game:
#1 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:22 PM:

My job's been safe ever since I recommended replacing the works of Laura Doyle with the works of John Norman

#2 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:27 PM:

Women's studies and early feminist theory: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series.

Law, especially for the do-it-yourself-ers: Elf Defense by Esther Friesner.

#3 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:31 PM:

For the aspiring frontier homesteader, several Robert Heinlein titles spring to mind.

#4 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:33 PM:

Whee, fun!

For the customer who is grieving for his dead wife, American Gods and Solaris should cheer him right up.

Dune makes a fine substitute for Bradshaw: On the Family. Family dysfunction at its finest.

I'd give The Tombs of Atuan to those seeking Alice Miller's seminal work on harmful childhoods, The Drama of the Gifted Child.

De Lint's Memory and Dream is a fine substitute for Cameron's The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.

#5 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:34 PM:

And I'm sure there are additional titles for self-help in techniques for repelling and fighting the zombie scourge menacing our fair country, but you can't go wrong with the classics: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

#6 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:35 PM:

The paranoid tinfoil-hat-wearing set get Cryptonomicon. Paid for in cash, of course.

#7 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Blindsight, for people who are struggling to understand the others around them.

#8 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:47 PM:

Perhaps dealing with the US State Department: Keith Laumer's Retief books ("Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely intentional and a damn shame.")

His writing tended however to be extremely gender imbalanced as regards recognition that women are people as opposed to objects/conveniences/trophies to award/etc.

#9 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:49 PM:

Welding technology--Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.

#10 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:55 PM:

Paula @9: Also good for improvised explosives, IIRC.

#11 ::: Steve Burnett ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:56 PM:

Mary #4: "De Lint's Memory and Dream is a fine substitute for Cameron's The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity."

I agree, although my first thought there was Brust's The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 04:59 PM:

You need romance in your life?
Your house needs to be repainted?
Not enough room to store all your stuff?

May I recommend Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space"?

#13 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:04 PM:

For people who want help getting ahead in business: the Vlad Taltos books.

#14 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:07 PM:

For those who feel alone in a hostile world, surely Van Vogt's Slan is approprate.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:09 PM:

For those wondering about life after death, To Your Scattered Bodies Go.

#16 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:10 PM:

And, for that matter, dealing with a handicap or prejudice, Cordwainer Smith's Norstrilia

#17 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:14 PM:

If customers are having trouble communicating with or understanding those around them, Delany's Babel-17. If the world just makes no sense, Dhalgren will give them a different perspective on things around them.

[I'm assuming for the purposes of this thread that nonfiction by genre writers is off-limits; that is, if someone is looking for The Artist's Way LeGuin's Steering the Craft probably isn't on the shelves either, so it's as well we have the DeLint.

#18 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:19 PM:

For all those interested in long-term financial planning, may I suggest "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe"?

#19 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:25 PM:

To handle the stress of moving and the social changes that occur therin: Watership Down

#20 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Ooh, that "Indigo Child"-> Ender's Game connection is pretty cold!

But let's see:

Dealing with bullies (or assholes in general) Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind In The Door.

Facing mortality: Don Saker's The Leaves of October.

#21 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:36 PM:

For help dealing with computer problems, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

For gender identity issues, The Left Hand of Darkness.

For sibling relations, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, etc.

For shopaholics, Barrayar.

#22 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:36 PM:

Want to learn about your autistic children's behavioral issues? Consult Delia Sherman's Changeling.

Depressed about the loss of your ancestral traditions? Read Mike Resnick's Kirinyaga.

#23 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:38 PM:

For insights on dealing with folks of many different persuasions and orientations, I'd recommend Kim Harrison's "Hollows" series.

#24 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Those looking for the out of print Managing Usenet could be referred to A Fire Upon the Deep.

#25 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:47 PM:

Jules@#10, there are self-help books that teach you how to improvise explosives? Where?

#26 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 05:51 PM:

This one's highly specific, but hey, niche market!

How to Get Your Nerd Fiance to See a Musical with you -- How Much for Just the Planet?

#27 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:05 PM:

Anyone interested in genealogical research could be directed to Connie Willis's To Say Nothing Of the Dog.

#28 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:06 PM:

Eric @24, and for those wanting to focus their creativity, there's always A Deepness In the Sky. (I think the third in the trilogy should be entitled A Sky On Fire.)

#29 ::: Francis D ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:07 PM:

Who Moved My Cheese -> The Warrior's Apprentice.

How To Win Friends and Influence People -> A Civil Campaign

#30 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Concerned about security?
The Demolished Man

#31 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Substance abuse issues: Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly.

Rymenhild @ 22:

I first read Delia Sherman as Delia Smith, which would be a very different book.

#32 ::: S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:10 PM:

I know you think you are joking, but as a mental health professional who reads SFF, I do this for real. :) (It's called "bibliotherapy" in some circles.)

For adult women dealing with reconciling themselves to their mothers' complicity in their fathers' physical abuse, McCaffrey's Dragonsong and Dragonsinger can be a useful point of departure.

Issues around being "high-potential", "underperforming" and abused: The Merro Tree (Waitman).

A variety of issues, such as those of the construct of femininity, the role of trust in platonic intimacy, coming out, etc., can be touched on from Gossamer Axe (Baudino).

That's three off the top of my head. I'm somewhat more likely to recommend short stories and movies, actually. Regardless, I don't generally recommend stories just based on broad issues (Ender's Game being as close to an exception as you can get), but on a sense that the way a story captures or explores an issue is a close match for the personality and perspective of the client.

And the clients do it too, invoking books they've read, movies they've seen, which they identify with. I had one young client tell me he really identified with "Bridge to Terebithia" (the movie). I made a link to another through his love of Harry Potter.

#33 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:10 PM:

> Concerned about security?
Little Brother

#34 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:13 PM:

Re: #22
Also Elizabeth Moon's "Speed of Dark."

#35 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:16 PM:

For someone who feels their life is shapeless and lacks meaning, I'd recommend Fire and Hemlock.

And for someone who's having trouble working out who they are (or how old they are, or what planet they're from) Hexwood is the ultimate reference. It's also useful for those who hear disembodied voices.

#36 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:19 PM:

For dealing with aging, Old Man's War.

#37 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:27 PM:

I would not recommend P.K Dick for anyone who has a remotely sketchy hold on reality. Though, if you really want to answer what is human, you could do worse than to find a missing robotic talking head.

#38 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:29 PM:

Hell, instead of any of a myriad postmortems of the financial crisis, _How Much for Just the Planet?_ (specifically, the immortally brilliant _Percentages of Trade_).

#39 ::: Londonbard. ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:30 PM:

Environmental Health and green issues section,

Starting an organic garden, "Farmer in the Sky" by Robert Heinlein.

For weed control in your organic garden - "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndam.

Pest control in urban areas, "Rats" by Frank Herbert.
................................

Problems of cross-cultural adoptions = "Stranger in a Strange Land," Robert Heinlein

"The Midwich Cuckoos" John Wyndam

and several helpful books dealing with close cross-cultural relationships by Philip Jose Farmer,
..............................................

A new look at Freudian beliefs in a religious context. "Pyramids" by Terry Pratchett.

More seriously, a number of the Terry Pratchett books are useful for bibliotherapy.

I would also strongly and seriously recommend a book about language, social structure, gender issues and relationships, "Native Tongue" by Suzette Haden Elgin, (in the British Edition by Femina press; this issue has a sampler of the artifical language that is the subject of the book, and the book would be well worth buying just for that sampler.)
...............................................

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:45 PM:

For marketing techniques, The Space Merchants remains useful.

In short stories, there's an amazing range of Sturgeon available for those who are feeling alone in the universe -- let's start with "A Saucer of Loneliness". "Mr. Costello -- Hero" for those interested in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

#41 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:47 PM:

That "Mr. Costello -- Hero" was supposed to be marked as snarky, but it failed....

#42 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Okay, so help me out here... what genre book should I be given for self-help with my generalized anxiety disorder? (This first wiseacre to suggest PKD's Stigmata gets one quantum of my everlasting disdain.)

#43 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:48 PM:

Ledenbard @39: Rats would be James Herbert, not Frank, I believe.

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 06:49 PM:

The Illuminatus! trilogy, of course, j h woodyatt.

#45 ::: Nancy ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:18 PM:

Concerns about dying and what comes next: Passage by Connie Willis

#46 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:37 PM:

For multiple-personality disorder, I can recommend either The Gods Themselves or A Fire Upon the Deep.

For people who feel like like imposters, how about Double Star?

For those who've had it with technology, I recommend Dies the Fire. (Those wishing they could somehow get away from it all should try Island in the Sea of Time, instead. Or perhaps The Probability Broach.)

Customers who need help with their relationship with their brothers can look to The Memory of Earth (Homecoming series) for tips about how to keep their brothers close.

The long-winded can draw many useful lessons on brevity from Teraplane and Emergence.

What else?

#47 ::: Keith K ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Anger management issues?
The Stars My Destination

#48 ::: CZanna ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:48 PM:

For someone struggling with general anxiety disorder and anorexia (and trying to maintain weight), I'd suggest Robin McKinley's Sunshine.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Londonbard 39: I would also strongly and seriously recommend a book about language, social structure, gender issues and relationships, "Native Tongue" by Suzette Haden Elgin

I do hope you're kidding. That book is set in a radical feminist dystopia, and the gender issues and social structures there aren't terribly relevant to our society, which while far from a paradise of gender equality doesn't resemble SHE's world much, either. She has linguists as the oppressed exploited Slan class, fhebbinsake! This (and the other two increasingly ridiculous books in the series) isn't about exploring gender relationships, it's about SHE's grotesque nightmare fantasies of what men would do to women if they could get away with it. Yeah, if you're a radicalesbian separatist and you want to influence a woman to cut off all contact with men, go ahead and give her this book (provided you don't mind her laughing at you for such a transparent ploy). Otherwise no.

And also, as I've pointed out elsewhere, the linguistics in them is utter nonsense. SHE's not consistent about whether Sapir-Whorf works, for one thing: Láadan makes a feminist saint of anyone who speaks it, and even positively affects people who've never heard it if they're NEAR people who speak it (no doubt through some kind of linguistic radiation); but the kids who learn to speak those alien languages, complete with cultural biases and inferences (remember when Nazareth pointed out that her aliens were insulting the Earth people?), are not too weird to even function in Earth society, much less interact with each other, as they certainly would be...

...that is, if SHE's ridiculous "Interface" concept would even work at all, which it wouldn't. Natural language acquisition works because the child is forced to use the language for all hir communication needs, all the time, and interacts with adults who are speaking the language as they go about their daily activities in the child's presence. A couple of hours a day staring at each other in a box won't do shit. And IIRC it's ONE alien per Interface; no opportunity for conversation in the alien language at all.

When I read the third book, wherein she posits that people don't actually need to eat if they sing a lot, I concluded that either a) that was her way of saying "Good grief, people! This series is a JOKE! This is a SENDUP of radical feminist dystopias!" OR b) she really is just a total flaming nutbar. Actually I assumed the former at the time; information acquired since has inclined me to the latter.

#50 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Understainding your loved one's new cult, and reprogramming if necessary: Snowcrash

#51 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:07 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 27--I like to think that _To Say Nothing Of The Dog_ isn't in any danger, as copies have *also* been squirreled away under "Humor", "Crime", and "Historical Fiction".

(I heart TSNotD.)

#52 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:25 PM:

CZanna @ 48 -- not having read the book in question, would that be a for-real rec for someone in that situation? Because if so, it's going on my reading list.

Political fatigue and frustration: the Transmetropolitan series.

Having trouble adjusting to a new career: American Gods.

Struggling to save? Do you feel like every time you get your life together, something comes along and knocks it all down again?: Job: A Comedy of Justice

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:42 PM:

#17
I'd think that the Foreigner series would also help, especially for those are feeling just a bit alienated.

#54 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Trying to cope with a partner or parent's mental decay as they age? Flowers for Algernon is clearly a book about Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia.

#55 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:58 PM:

S. #32:
We know we are joking, but many, if not most, of us have recommended books to friends to help them deal with issues. I used to read The Lord of the Rings every Feb-Mar to match my winter mood, and then bring me out of that mood to a hopeful spring.

P.S. Welcome!

#56 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Journey to the Center of the Earth can serve both as a Mining textbook, and a NYC subway guidebook.

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:04 PM:

If you're trying to break with your old religious view, and looking for an alternative: Creatures of Light and Darkness.

#59 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Growing up: The Iron Dragon's Daughter

Winning friends/influencing people: Bellwether

Crisis of faith: The Sparrow, or perhaps Hell is the Absence of God.

#60 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:19 PM:

Relationship issues: Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner.

#61 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:29 PM:

@55: That reminds me of my twin, who once contracted a bad cold solely by reading Wuthering Heights.

#62 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:37 PM:

S. 32: My suggestions at #20 were serious. I suspect there's a few other serious ones here, but I'm not sure which, as people are tossing in a lot of titles I haven't read.

I'd note that Foreigner (I've only read the first one) might well be good for autistic-spectrum types, in terms of dealing with a society that just doesn't think like them. (And as an aside, her atevi(sp?) are certainly among the best Cambellian aliens I've seen.)

L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time might be good for someone who's struggling to deal with a family member on the autistic spectrum.

I'm not sure this would be a good thing, but Philip K. Dick's Valis trilogy gives a disturbingly close look into the mind of a psychotic person.

And just to go over to the Snarky Side for a moment, if someone asked "how to convert an evilutionist", I'd have no compunction about handing them Robert Charles Wilson's Darwinia.

#63 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:56 PM:

For anyone needing help accepting an androgynous nature, in themselves or others, there's Longyear's Enemy Mine.

And, before Serge beat me to the recommendation, I was going to suggest The Colour Out of Space to those trying to decide between organic gardening methods and chemical and genetic enhancement.

#64 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:11 PM:

Oh yeah -- Pohl's Voices Of Heaven isn't terribly educational, but it does feature a manic-depressive protagonist/narrator. Unfortunately, it takes some serious authorial abuse to keep him away from useful treatment, to the point of straining suspension of disbelief.

(Gur thl'f orra qbhoyl phg bss sebz gur hygen-grpu gerngzragf bs Rnegu -- ohg gur cynarg vf fcrpvsvpnyyl qrfpevorq nf orvat rfcrpvnyyl evpu va yvguvhz! Gbb onq gur pbybal'f bayl "qbpgbe" jnf genvarq nf n qragvfg....)

#65 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:11 PM:

I already recommend the Illuminatus! Trilogy as a self-help book, so let's see...

For those dealing with anxiety about the modern world, I should think a read of The Doomsday Book should put things in perspective.

And of course the Chronicles of Amber for anyone seeking help with their dysfunctional family.

For low self-esteem, I'd have to recommend Deep Secret.

Or for anyone simply in need of empowerment in the face of the world's darkness, Diane Duane's So You Want to Be A Wizard sets forth great principles to live by.

And there I go taking the question seriously now! Except for the Zelazny rec, which is probably not the world's best dysfunctional family handbook.

#66 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:49 PM:

Do you fear that you are living in the End Times? or alternately, Do you feel that forces beyond your control are shaping your destiny?

Spin.

(I gave Spin to my father for Christmas. He was chiefly fascinated with the religious angle.)

#67 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:54 PM:
  • Men are from Cimmeria, Frost Princesses are from Niflheim by Bob Howard
  • Our Pods, Our Trucks
  • Think and Make It Snow
  • The 7 Guises of Highly Antarctic Doppelgangers
  • Tuesdays with Moriarity
#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 10:58 PM:

For spiritual searchers, The Nine Billion Names of God.

#69 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 11:14 PM:

On turning your dead-end life around: The Stars My Destination

#70 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 11:35 PM:

Mike @67, I had to click your "view all by" to make sure you weren't a ghost. That was a bit spooky.

#71 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:02 AM:

For housewives thinking of going back into the job market: The Interior Life, by Katherine Blake/Dorothy Heydt.

For those wanting to get rich quickly: Heechee by Fred Pohl.

For those wanting to find ways to get in touch with their small-town roots: And We Will Drink A Fish Together by William Johnson.

#72 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:15 AM:

For those dealing with losing someone to cancer - A Ring of Endless Light (I know, not technically SF, but that's where it's often shelved)

Instead of Vocal Education for Dummies, another rec for Dragonsinger

One I'm surprised has yet to be mentioned: World History, Mythology, and Literature 101 - Silverlock

For those dealing with the realities of rape and sexual abuse - Deerskin

I'd get more if I'd go upstairs and look at the collection.

#73 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:32 AM:

For feminist relatives trying to de-Twilight their teenage girls, Robin McKinley's Sunshine. Hasn't worked on Baby Sister yet, but then, I haven't really forced her to read it. We'll get there.

This is really interesting, not just for the fact that some of them crack me up-- mostly the Bujold ones-- but because there are some parts of me I can trace back to books. Right now, I'm doing romance-novel therapy.

#74 ::: njs ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:01 AM:

germ phobia: Bloom

work/family balance: Dragonsbane, Caught in Crystal

assertiveness: Ella Enchanted

overeating: Consider Phlebas

compulsive gambling: Last Call

crisis of faith: Apocalypse Door

pet-raising: Her Majesty's Dragon

paranoia: Liane the Wayfarer

(These recommendations are provided with NO WARRANTY, not even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR PURPOSE, to the extent provided by law.)

#75 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:02 AM:

Serious rec here. For survivors of child sexual abuse who are just beginning to work on the scar tissue: Deerskin. There are parts of the book that were labeled confusing in the reviews I read, but make perfect sense to a survivor, at least to this survivor.

#76 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:18 AM:

what genre book should I be given for self-help with my generalized anxiety disorder?

Dune.

I occasionally used the Litany Against Fear to manage anxiety back when I was a teenager. (This despite never finishing the book. I did quite like the Litany Against Fear, though, even if the Bene Gesserit creeped me the heck out.)

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:21 AM:

Do you feel something isn't right about the world around you? Try The Lathe of Heaven.

#78 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:38 AM:

For agoraphobia: The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun [Asimov].

And a serious recommendation for those dealing with childhood sexual abuse and its sequelae: Elizabeth Moon's Once a Hero and the rest of that series.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:01 AM:

I was mostly kidding when I proposed this game, but, like many of the people here, many of my tools for dealing with myself and others come from genre books.

I found Deerskin pretty intensely triggering, and I only have one incident to trigger. But I agree that it is a good serious recommendation.

One other useful recommendation, for someone dealing with expat issues: The Left Hand of Darkness. Estraven's exile in Orgoryen is useful for overt discussion of the issues, while Genly's book-long case of culture shock is painfully, reasssuringly true.

And, not entirely seriously, for someone with anger management problems, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

#80 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:13 AM:

AJ @65 - oof, the Doomsday Book. Having just To Say Nothing Of The Dog (twice in rapid succession, an honor I grant to very few books), I wanted more light-hearted Connie Willis time travel. Well, I got Connie Willis time travel, all right, and I plowed right through it waiting for it to get light-hearted. It wrenched the heart right out of me and I haven't been able to reread it yet. That's been about a decade now and I can still feel it.

Damn, that woman can write.

#81 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:42 AM:

Michael Roberts @ 80: Then you should beware of Passage. It's at least as gut-wrenching as Doomsday Book. On the same note, I'd recommend Passage for people dealing with grief.

#82 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:11 AM:

I think it was Tolkien who saved my job, when I gave Lord of the Rings as the reference for the Seven Hobbits of Highly Effective People. The manager says her life has really turned around, since she learned to express her inner Lobelia.

Cosmic ordering: any collection containing the W W Jacobs classic The Monkey's Paw.

Any form of angel-doo-lallogy: Steven Brust, To Reign in Hell, or Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

Need to kick your drug habit? Then buy Doc Smith's Lensman series, and broil, sear, vapourise, and blast apart its very atoms with beams of starkly inconceivable ether-straining incandescence instead!

Feeling paranoid? Wondering why the Establishment is so hell-bent on suppressing the wonderful world of the paranormal? Read Eric Frank Russell's Sinister Barrier, and open your eyes...

And we strongly recommend that those who wish to cultivate serenity and patience put in a prompt order for Diane Duane's now-legendary masterwork, The Door into Starlight.

#83 ::: Simon W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:28 AM:

Are you having difficulties at work? Do you sometimes feel as though an eldritch demon from another dimension has possessed your line manager? Then why not pick up a copy of The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross for practical tips and advice.

#84 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:35 AM:

Michael Roberts #80:

I think of Connie Wills' books as falling into two categories: the light witty humourous tales & the gut-wrenching ones with the high body-count. For the former, try "Bellwether", for the latter, as heresiarch mentioned, "Passage".

#85 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:35 AM:

Dealing with being out of work, or facing major career related upheavals? Rimrunners and Finity's End.

Finity's End is also a fine read for dealing with your newly acquired family as a result of re-marriage or adoption, while Rimrunners has some unique advice about living in close quarters, handling interpersonal issues and workplace violence, as well as dealing with PTSD.

All of the Sharing Knife books are also a good look at mixed-partner relationship challenges, family, and major life changes.

A House of Many Ways is a fine take on how to cope with unexpected situations gracefully (although unexpected guests are better handled in Archer's Goon), as is Summon the Keeper.

Family as unexpected and unwelcome guests are, of course, considered in both Conrad's Fate and the Merlin Conspiracy.

For the ADD/Aspergers spectrum, Halting State seems like a fine stand-in for "Relationships for Dummies".

Cyteen and Regenesis are, of course, all about self-discovery, maturity and identity (and arguably have some unique things to say about management style -- Downbelow Station would be my recommendation for management advice in that set, however).

The 'Chrome Circle' books are another possible set for positive reinforcement, and confirming that good things can happen to 'bad' people.

I -think- the story I'm thinking of may be 'the savage mouth' - for dealing with body image issues.

#86 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:38 AM:

njs @74, overeating: Consider Phlebas

My keyboard is lucky that I wasn't drinking anything.


Xopher, problem is, for pretty much any book that someone here recommends, there are probably at least some people who think it makes no sense and is based on completely wrong or faulty assumptions and so on, and if everyone who thinks that about some book seriously recommended here posts his or her thoughts, we'll end up with the thread being mostly about that.

#87 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Aggida-wha? My earlier post was supposed to be no. 72. This is the first time I've encountered the Dreaded Post Lag here.

Anyway! Dealing with adult children: Remnant Population. Preparing to move to a rural area: Neena Gathering.

#88 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 06:19 AM:

How to get the job you've always wanted? Curse of Chalion,

#89 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 06:50 AM:

Jack Vance deserves a mention:

Finance & business: The Killing Machine
Legal aid: The Face

Cadbury.

#90 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 06:51 AM:

I suppose that King's Thinner might not be the best weight-loss book. But the early Laurel K. Hamilton Anita Blake novels spend a lot of time focusing on her jogging routine (before the series starts focusing entirely on Anita's other physical activities).

#91 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 07:18 AM:

Raphael @ 86:

> njs @74, overeating: Consider Phlebas

> My keyboard is lucky that I wasn't drinking anything.

My keyboard is lucky that my stomach is empty.

#92 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 08:35 AM:

Cutting yourself lose from unrealisable love: Iain Banks' The Steep Approach to Garbadale.

#93 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 08:39 AM:

If we can pack in YA as well, I'd figure Tamora Pierce can do more for childhood self esteem issues than actual self-help books anyhow.

Or you could just fire the idiot making the cuts. Genre fiction sales are up, while most other sections are down.

#94 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 08:43 AM:

Gray @ 82 Door Into Starlight is a masterwork of the quest sub-genre.

Now I want to read it. *looks hopefully at Peter and Diane*

On a related subject, did anyone ever figure out what the death of Misha Merlin meant to existing contracts and the ability of their authors to take those books elsewhere? Did MM release things or no?

For how to set good boundaries, run a kingdom, listen to other suggestions and strange parties, - Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons

#95 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:29 AM:

For tips on re-building post-pandemic society, Earth Abides and/or The Stand.

The ramifications of globalization: The Mote in God's Eye

#96 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:48 AM:

Truth, secrets, identity: Sharon Shinn's YA trilogy: The Truth-Teller's Tale, The Safe-Keeper's Secret, and The Dream-Maker's Magic.

(Also a good example of fantasy without a single elf, monster, wizard, or magic sword in sight.)

#97 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 10:13 AM:

Josh Jasper at 93, I thought about Tamora Pierce, but couldn't think of anything besides "being a child". Although Kel deals with bullying and Daine is Daine. Melting Stones counts as "how to do good things for all these idiots around you".
Daine and Numair, together, still bugs me.

#98 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 10:23 AM:

abi @ 79:

One other useful recommendation, for someone dealing with expat issues: The Left Hand of Darkness. Estraven's exile in Orgoryen is useful for overt discussion of the issues, while Genly's book-long case of culture shock is painfully, reasssuringly true.

I'm just going to say yes and leave it at that.

#99 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 10:50 AM:

Another for child sexual abuse: Flying in Place

#100 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Physics, weather, and multiple network computing -- Mother of Storms, John Varley

Geophysics -- Earth, David Brin

Religion/self-help and self-discovery -- Paladin of Souls

How to rebuild in post-apocalyptic world - Postman, David Brin

Modern trench warfare, and gourmet cooking while camping/roughing it -- Rats, Bats and Vats, Dave Freer

#101 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:06 AM:

Another serious recommendation for survivors of traumatic childhood/adolescence: Warchild, Burndive, and Cagebird, by Karin Lowachee.

Is it within the constraints of the game to call out specific passages? For romantic disappointment, the opening of Chapter 11 of Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust, right up to the sentence "I'm so fucking wise."

#102 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:08 AM:

Learning to accept stepchildren / step-parents: Diana Wynne Jones' The Ogre Downstairs.

Addiction... I'm told that Barry B. Longyear's The God Box is very "12-step"-y. Ditto some of his other books. I'm not very good at picking out such themes. His Saint Mary Blue is definitely on-target but doesn't quite meet the criteria of the thread, since although I've seen it shelved with F/SF, it's sort-of-fictionalized autobiography.

#103 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:13 AM:

Got a thing for your sister, and a tendency to sadism? Sardonyx Net by Elizabeth Lynn.

Not sure if your shrink is doing you any good? Gateway, by Fred Pohl.

Looking to start your own religion? Try Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein.

Exploring submission and/or politics? Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey.

This could go on for days.

#104 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:35 AM:

I don't know if there are any self-help books for religious hubris and the young earth creationist; Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World would qualify, but normally wouldn't be shelved with the self-help books.

I would recommend James Blish's Black Easter. The 'error of religious hubris' message is somewhat undercut by the sequel The Day After Judgment, but the conclusion of that book is equally intriguing.

His book A Case of Conscience might also provide an interesting perspective for this person.

These books all start with an assumption of the truth of religious faith*; it's where they go from there that makes them interesting. Unlike Sagan's book, they would not directly contradict a bedrock principle of this person's life, but might encourage them to adopt a broader view.


* And yes, I realize the faith portrayed is probably too 'Roman Catholic' to be taken at face value by a young earth creationist.

#105 ::: Nightsky ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:38 AM:

Ginger@88: Hee. :) Seriously, though, _Curse of Chalion_ would be great for someone who thinks his life is over and is prepared to consign himself to retirement at 35. A special case of midlife crisis, I guess.

#106 ::: Sarah W ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:51 AM:

For a complete deconstruction of the psyche, I can't recommend much better than Sturgeon's More Than Human

And might I suggest that Stephen King's Just After Sunset short story collection provides one-stop shopping for many of your self-help needs:

"Stationary Bike" might provide a more balanced view of wellness than Thinner;

"The Gingerbread Girl" for coping (more or less) with the loss of a child;

"The Cat From Hell" touches on the ethics of animal testing and provides tips on caring for that difficult pet;

"The Things They Left Behind," provides insight into survivor's guilt;

and "N" is a case study on OCD, though I'm not sure how helpful it is. There is actually a lot of OCD running (pardon the pun) throughout this entire collection.

Other stories touch on the afterlife, miracles, positive thinking, negative thinking, and personal growth.

Come to think, I'm not sure what else a self-help customer would need beyond a collection of the works of Stephen King (and perhaps his bio), except maybe a nightlight and a lock for the closet door . . .

#107 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Nightsky @105: Thanks! I pondered labeling CoC as history of diplomacy, international relations, negotiation and arbitration*, or "how to win friends and influence people".


*An amazingly useful topic to study. I read one book on this topic when my dad was negotiating contracts for the town, and learned some very valuable skills.

#108 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:36 PM:

Another one for grief issues: Always Coming Home

Oh, and let's not forget all of Bujold's vor books for body-image issues...

Of course, there are also sff books and stories that would exacerbate pretty much any condition you prescribed them for. (I just left an anthology containing "The Cold Equations" on the shelf at the local library book sale.)

#109 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:47 PM:

Fear of mice and other small beasties: the entire Redwall series. Won't help much with rats, though. Also useful as a (pesc)vegetarian cookbook, if you don't need the recipes.

For parents shocked by their children's sex/family structures, I'd say Tanya Huff's The Enchantment Emporium, mostly because it makes, "Dad, Mom, I'm gay," seem so conservative.

#110 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:48 PM:

For help in dealing with a demanding professor: Tam Lin.

#111 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 12:58 PM:

For the Christian End-Times, may I suggest Pratchett's & Gaiman's Good Times?

Stephenson's The Big U is for fresh-people just entering uni.

Recommended for those interested in music history of the 80's, Bull's War for the Oaks.

Information specific to Aztec deities can be found in Lackey's Burning Water.

#112 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:04 PM:

Serge, at 77, hit one of the Le Guin books I was going to recommend for the "How to live in a Changing Multicultural World" genre (Lathe of Heaven; the other is The Dispossessed.

And Terry Pratchett's Nation definitely goes under death, grieving, and recovery. Also, everyone should read it as an instruction book in how to be human.

#113 ::: Ray Girvan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Conversely, in the bookshop where I work I'm often tempted to move Donald Swann's The Rope of Love (a Christian song cycle) to the BDSM/sexuality section suggested by the title.

#114 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:27 PM:

@111 - Surely Good Omens?

#115 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:37 PM:

Looking for a guide to medical conditions? The Sector General novels, by James White, and also The Adventures of Terra Tarkington by Sharon Webb.

#116 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Ginger@100: Mother of Storms is John Barnes, not John Varley. Though I haven't seen anyone mention Varley's "The Persistence of Vision" for dealing with disability issues.

#117 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:07 PM:

For sex education, Astra and Flondrix?

#118 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:23 PM:

Diatryma @ 73, maybe I'll give a copy to my teenage cousin once I've read it for myself.

(I won't say a word against Twilight in her presence; it's the only thing I've ever seen her carry around and read for pleasure. She's always struggled with reading and doesn't usually enjoy it, but she wouldn't even put down Eclipse for Thanksgiving dinner. I personally find it silly -- and yes, I've read it -- but if she's learning the joy of reading, then more power to it. It would be ideal if it was a springboard to reading better stuff, though.)

#119 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:53 PM:

Want to quest, but afraid of the unknown people/places/situations? The Tough Guide to Fantasyland should prepare you for anything!

#120 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 02:55 PM:

heresiarch @81 and Soon Lee @84 - yeah, I've read everything by Connie Willis in the meantime. I liked Passage quite a bit (and Bellwether too), but it didn't grab me by the throat. I figure the Doomsday effect was heightened by my expectation of much lighter fare. It was worth it; it lingered.

#121 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:05 PM:

Successful networking: Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment.

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:08 PM:

Feeling lonely? Thinking of acquiring a canine companion? May I recommend Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog"?

#123 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:39 PM:

Ethics in philosophy and religion: the Star Wars Expanded Universe books.

#124 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 03:47 PM:

@114;
Ack! Thinking one thing and typing another. I even previewed my post.

#125 ::: Chris Eagle ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:07 PM:

@110: Which Tam Lin?

#126 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:10 PM:

Chris Eagle @125: Pamela Dean's.

#127 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:34 PM:

Planning a theme park vacation? The Free Lunch will give you some clues about what to see.

Looking for tips on how to tutor your mathematically gifted, but troublemaking, child? Try The Peace War.

Feeling obsessive about your religious obligations? Maybe Xenocide is the book for you.

Unlucky in both love and business? Ready for a long sleep to wash away the pain? Try The Door Into Summer.

Are you an adolescent boy whose buddies all act like apes, and whose girlfriend acts like some kind of alien? Maybe The Uplift War holds some insights for your situation.

#128 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 04:46 PM:

albatross @ 127 ...
Are you an adolescent boy whose buddies all act like apes, and whose girlfriend acts like some kind of alien? Maybe The Uplift War holds some insights for your situation.

You owe me a new nose! That was sweet :)

Lirael would be another fine one for problems fitting in, relationship problems, dealing with friends with problems, and family with unrealistic expectations...

#129 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Are you an adolescent boy whose buddies all act like apes, and whose girlfriend acts like some kind of alien?

In other words, are you an adolescent boy?

#130 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 05:39 PM:

albastross @127;
For building a theme park, refer them to Niven's and Barnes' Dream Park series.

For city planning, Oath of Fealty.

#131 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 08:56 PM:

linnen @130:

Not The City and The Stars?

#132 ::: cori ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Inspired to post after I-don't-know-how-long-lurking to say:

Guide to intelligent parenting - Cordelia's Honor/Barrayar and most of the Vor books touch on it in some ways.

#133 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:40 PM:

For community planning: Rama

#134 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 09:49 PM:

And for body image issues, gender dysphoria, and generalized feelings of powerlessness? Almost anything by Jack Chalker, of course!

Dave, ducking uglily

#135 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 10:51 PM:

If I was going to build a theme park, Ringworld would be a useful guide.

#136 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 11:57 PM:

I just realized that Wolfbane (Pohl and Kornbluth) would fit either the "Computers and Computing for Career Advancement" slot or the "Team Building for Group Projects" one.

#137 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 12:28 AM:

Guide to community activism: Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake.

#138 ::: Rob Rusick spots spam @138 ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 02:22 AM:

Just a hunch...

#139 ::: JSJones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 08:25 AM:

Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon is obviously a self-help book in disguise (Thirty Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power).

#140 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 09:56 AM:

Body image issues, Nina Kiriki Hoffman's A Fistful of Sky. I read that and kept thinking, "This book is not actually about what it says it's about. This is GREAT." Most of what I've read of hers is also good for general adolescence issues.

#141 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 10:53 AM:

No recommendations for tackling insomnia yet?

#142 ::: Michael Adelstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 10:54 AM:

In this post 9/11 world, we can't forget Robin Hobb's Assasin's Apprentice, Royal Assasin and Assasin's Quest. Lots of useful self-help skills there (although most of them would cause more problems than they would solve)

#143 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 10:58 AM:

J Austin@142

tackling insomnia

We don't really want to encourage people to buy extremely boring books...

:-)

#144 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 11:00 AM:

Coping with bereavement? My Dear How Dead You Look And Yet You Sweetly Sing, by Patricia Marron.

#145 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 11:10 AM:

Michael I @ 144:

But it's for the store, man.

#146 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 11:36 AM:

Michael I:

For the it-could-be-worse side of insomnia, you could try Beggars in Spain. (This may also be a treatment for Objectivism.)

#147 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Are you or a loved one dealing with mental illness? Try This Alien Shore.

Marrying into a conservative religious sect? The Honor of the Queen, Flag in Exile, etc.

Extraordinarily empathic? Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, and Arrow's Fall.

And finally, does your life suck beyond all imagining? Remember, it could be worse! Just ask Vanyel in Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise and Magic's Price.

#148 ::: joXn ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Is the fluidity of modern gender roles bewildering and depressing you? Trouble on Triton will help you cope with these issues.

#149 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 02:47 PM:

Luthe #148: Well, if we're bringing in Lackey...

Are you an abused prodigy, exploited for your unique talents? Burning Bright.

Or if you're just feeling overly bound by Tradition, check out her new "Hundred Kingdoms" series, starting with The Fairy Godmother.

#150 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 03:05 PM:

cori @132:
Welcome to the commenting side of the force! The second time you post will be even easier.

Guide to intelligent parenting - Cordelia's Honor/Barrayar and most of the Vor books touch on it in some ways.

Oh, yes. In particular, I'd recommend Barryar and A Civil Campaign for recommendations on discussing sex and relationships.

And apologies, the value thereof, and the proper manner of making them.

#151 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 03:34 PM:

More help for abused prodigies, and how they can overcome their past, win friends and influence people -- the Kencyr series.

#152 ::: Suzanne F. ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 03:54 PM:

And more on parenting: Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley.

#153 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 03:57 PM:

Trying to deal with a degenerative physical disease and the associated depression and self-image issues?

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever

#154 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Want to learn how a plain-jane academic can win her prince charming? Try The Pershawar Lancers.

Hoping to avoid getting weaker and less mentally sharp as you age? Perhaps the formula for you lies in Protector.

Tired of the job you have had for a hell of a long time, and ready for a new life? A Season of Mists is your ticket to a new life. (But you may end up finally having to give the devil his due.)

#155 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 05:09 PM:

Not getting key insights? A Fire Upon The Deep.

Think you're fighting with the same people over and over and over? The Worm Ouroboros.

Need to get around the Boston subway system? At the Mountains of Madness.

#156 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Should you immunize? The War of the Worlds

#157 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 06:29 PM:

For someone struggling with general anxiety disorder and anorexia (and trying to maintain weight), I'd suggest Robin McKinley's Sunshine.

OMG yes. Right now, the phrase "cinnamon rolls as big as your head" is waddling around my brain and tempting me to ruin my supper.

Also, thanks to those who recommend it as a deTwilightification aid; next time a friend gushes to me about those awful books, instead of simply biting my tongue and looking like I swallowed a fly, I will remember instead to say, "If you liked those, you'll love Sunshine - and you should probably get ahold of the movie Let The Right One In* while you're at it."

*Hopefully I won't have to clarify that one with "Not the remake, I'm afraid; the original, with subtitles." Hopefully the plans to remake it in English and set it in Colorado are just a terrible nightmare from which we will all awake laughing in the bright morning.

--

Feeling like you can't trust your family, and suffering guilt over it? Suffer no more. Diana Wynne Jones's Chronicles of Chrestomanci will vindicate you.

#158 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 06:36 PM:

Jon Meltzer @ 156, only the Red Line, though.

And if you don't want to navigate the Boston subway system, or are considering buying property in the North End, may I recommend the short story "Pickman's Model"?

#159 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 07:19 PM:

156, 159:
for guidance on navigating the Boston subway system you might also want

The Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald.

#160 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 07:31 PM:

I believe that the actual definitive guide to the Boston Subway is the story A Streetcar Named Mobius by A.J. Deutsch.

#161 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 07:51 PM:

John Houghton, #154, I agreed before I got sick, but now he just seems like a whiner.

#162 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 08:02 PM:

Marilee, you don't think that any all of the books in the self-help section are good books, do you?

How to Feel Sorry for Yourself Ad Nauseum just wouldn't make a good name for a book, and wouldn't sell through in the bookstore. (I hope.)

#163 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 09:40 PM:

First steps in repairing a damaged or dysfunctional community: Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn.

#164 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 09:51 PM:

John Houghton #161: Never mind the subways -- I've sworn that if I ever GM an FRP game that reaches R'lyeh, I'm going to use a map of the Boston streets! Especially if I can find one that indicates one-way streets....

Marilee #162: <snorfle> As someone once commented about another author, I suspect tCoTC is best recommended for those with a excess of the will to live....

#165 ::: joXn ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 10:16 PM:

What to expect in your first pregnancy: Sean Stewart's Mockingbird

#166 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 11:11 PM:

abi @ 151: Let us not forget the instructions on the proper use of furniture, particularly in negotiations.

Much earlier, someone referenced Barrayar as a guide for shopaholics. When would be a good time to mention casually that I have a a lovely canvas bag from Sieglings of Vorbarra?

#167 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 12:15 AM:

Time Management: Last and First Men or Accelerando


Memory Improvement: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale


Or you could just refile most of the genre under Travel and Travel Writing, some of it under Magical Realism in the Literature section, put half of Jhereg in the Cooking section next to the Nero Wolfe books you stashed their last year when you had to close out the Mystery section, anything with swords into Sports, and that'll leave you room to put the Global Warming Is A Commie Plot books into Science Fiction so the Head Office can dispose of it.


And you could take care of the Head Office problem by filing Highlander under Management...

#168 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 12:16 AM:

If you're planning a walking holiday on the Fylde coast, don't go without Neil Gaiman's Shoggoth's Old Peculiar.

#169 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:16 AM:

For men dealing with midlife crisis Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series.

#170 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:42 AM:

joXn@166: My mother is a retired nurse-midwife, and she in fact used some passages from Mockingbird in handouts that she gave her patients. (With permission! I was able to help get in touch with Sean Stewart about it.)

#171 ::: njs ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Speaking of time management, there's also, of course, Spin.

The Bone Doll's Twin et sequelae have some fascinating gender dysmorphia stuff in them, though I don't feel sufficiently familiar with the real world side of that to comment on its utility.

#172 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 02:23 AM:

OK, this is a true story. Swear to God it is, because it happened in the big chain bookstore where I was an assistant manager many years ago.

One of the brand new hires had been very enthusiastic and industrious that morning. I walked in to find all 70 copies of Heinlein's JOB face-out in Business and Careers.

I couldn't bear to change it for three days, and only did so because my manager was afraid the General Office would whack us if they found out. But oh, the glory of it. And the appropriateness!

#173 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 02:52 AM:

Surviving corporate team-building exercises: Bellwether by Connie Willis. Also applicable to those wanting to spark creativity.

#174 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 03:27 AM:

Ginger @167:
Let us not forget the instructions on the proper use of furniture, particularly in negotiations.

Well, I see your point, but your phrasing puts me more in mind of Use of Weapons.

*shudder*

#175 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 03:50 AM:

Finding your inner warrior? Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.

Careers in Hollywood? Remake, Connie Willis.

Learning to listen to yourself? Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett.

Time Management? Thief of Time, also by Terry Pratchett.

Michael Roberts, Connie Willis is one of my all time favorite writers, and To Say Nothing of the Dog one of my favorite books. I even named my cat Penwiper.

Linkmeister, I am soooo glad I did not have anything in my mouth when I saw your suggestion regarding War of the Worlds, or I would have needed a new keyboard.

#176 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 06:02 AM:

#170: And for much-younger second wives.

#177 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 06:06 AM:

Are you a teenager with an absent parent? The Wasp Factory!
Are you the parent of a difficult teenager? Blindsight!

167: nice one... I hope you carry around a bowling ball or large watermelon in it to give the full effect.

#178 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 11:30 AM:

How to get revenge--"Worms of the Earth", by R.E. Howard.
Are you working or studying, esp. late at night, in a building or complex whose lower reaches are exceedingly labyrinthine? Or are you into urban exploration? "The Scarlet Citadel" and "The Castle of Terror". (The latter was one of those Carter and De Camp do's, I think, but I loved it.] [--Oh, and Garry Kilworth's, I think it is, "Inside the Walled City".] All right, I know that's a bit out of the self-help dept...
Fellows, you just can't live without that unfamiliar but gorgeous gal? "The Frost Giants' Daughter."
Ladies, he done you wrong? "Black God's Kiss" and "Black God's Shadow" by C. L. Moore.
Want to enrich your life by becoming the one who knows how to use old and unfamiliar technology? Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner, and The Sword of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett.
Think that amateur detective/forensic work might help with your career/life plans? There's a lot of stuff by Arthur Machen...

#179 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Abi @175: Yes, that too. Hm.

Ajay @178: I should, shouldn't I? Especially a large chunk of watermelon, to get the liquid effects as well.

Back on topic: want to learn the effective habits of successful people? The entire Conan series will give you step by step guidance as you rise to a position of power.

Need an introduction to IT and cybersecurity? Check out To Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff.

#180 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 12:50 PM:

John Houghton, #163, I don't know, I've never been in the self-help part of a bookstore! But I do remember people continuing to say how wonderful those series were and all I could think was that his character could probably whine enough for everybody.

David Harmon, #165, well, people want to live who don't whine all the time.

#181 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Long term strategic planning: Deepness in the Sky?

#182 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Ginger #167: Whom did you have to kill to get that?

#183 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 03:07 PM:

David Harmon @ 165, I have long insisted that Boston streets are non-Euclidean. My fiancé is usually a human compass, and even he got completely turned around.

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 04:04 PM:

Want to find the true meaning of Christmas? May we recommend Connie Willis's All Seated on the Ground?

#185 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 05:17 PM:

How to embrace change? Parable of the Sower.

How to say no when pressured to say yes? The Cold Equations.

How to deal with new cultures: The Final Reflection.

Napoleon complex? The Essential Ellison.

Does Dianetics count as science fiction?

#186 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 05:48 PM:

Struggling with unmentionable desires? Want to understand the natural world better? Phillip Mann's The Eye of the Queen (a more different book from The Honor of the Queen, referenced above, could not be imagined).

Switching to short fiction, want help staking that mining claim in a distant locale? Terry Carr's The Dance of the Changer and the Three.

#187 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 06:43 PM:

Fragano @183: It was just a simple shopping trip, and I swear I meant to stay within budget.

I also meant to say "Siegling's of Vorbarr Sultana".

#188 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Glenn Hauman @186: Does Dianetics count as science fiction?

I would say yes. But does it count as 'self-help'?

#189 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 08:47 PM:

Dianetics must be the book you recommend to people who want to cure both their excess cash problem* and their understanding of empiricism and logic.

*But I think I could come up with better ways for me to deal with their excess cash.

#190 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 09:05 PM:

Want to understand today's political headline? Clans of the Alphane Moon.

#191 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 09:22 PM:

Ginger #188: I only have millipfennigs right now.

#192 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2009, 12:18 AM:

Fragano @192: Pfui.

#193 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Demonstrating the importance of open communication (with case studies of common errors to avoid): The Wheel of Time series.

#194 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2009, 01:06 PM:

John Houghton:

Dianetics must be the book you recommend to people who want to cure both their excess cash problem* and their understanding of empiricism and logic.

*But I think I could come up with better ways for me to deal with their excess cash.

Brings to mind a startling search result I got on Google: "Hercules Grytpype-thynne is on Facebook." Not a link I want to investigate, thank you...

#195 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2009, 02:14 PM:

Are you a hopeless procrastinator? Learn effective time-management with Robert Bloch's "That Hellbound Train."

#196 ::: Laura from Faraway ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2009, 11:15 PM:

The works of Diana Wynne Jones, starting from the ubiquitous Howl's Moving Castle and working outwards, have been excellent for me in terms of learning to stop accepting excuses for myself and soldier the f*** on. A good thing I discovered them when I did, as my thirty-seventh year has been one HECK of a yakudoshi.

Hero's Crown for keeping moving when you're wounded and exhausted and just want to lay down and stop, but know things will be much worse if you don't deal with them. Actually, all of McKinley's works are excellent balm for the spirit.

Barry Hughart's Number Ten Ox series is excellent for anorexics who resist the thought of recovery, but keep in mind that most anorexia cannot be cured without addressing the zinc deficiency--- food "[won't] taste right." (Harrumph. Another topic for another day.) A pebble against the tsunami, sure, but enough pebbles...

At the other end of the spectrum, Elizabeth Moon's fantasy plus Speed of Dark for otherwise decent-hearted people who do not seem to realize that their personal chaos can have a negative impact upon those who surround them.

#197 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 12:45 AM:

Sarah @ 196 ...
Are you a hopeless procrastinator? Learn effective time-management with Robert Bloch's "That Hellbound Train."

... if you can get around it it, that is...

#198 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 01:47 PM:

For the "How to Remake Your Life:" Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man although my midnight Pterry conversation with two of the young 'uns would suggest that Feet of Clay would also work (or Going Postal for that matter).

#199 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Laura from Faraway @ 197

"Hero's Crown" - do you mean "The Hero and the Crown"? I'll second the recommendation.

#200 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 07:00 PM:

Having difficulty getting back together with your partner? K J Parker's Engineer trilogy shows you how.

Also how to lay siege to an impregnable city.

#201 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 10:24 PM:

#189. Rob, For The Win. (Do kids who use FTW even know what the Hollywood Squares was?)

#202 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2009, 11:08 PM:

JESR @ 112: Thank you for reminding me about the existence of Nation. It's been sitting around in a pile of to-read books for a month or two now, and I'd nearly forgotten about it. I read the whole thing through last night in the midst of a horrible mood, and it was exactly what I needed.

#203 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2009, 12:11 AM:

Fade, you're welcome. If there's a single book I've read recently that I would recommend for everyone to read, Nation would be it.

#204 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2009, 12:17 AM:

Glenn, I do and I didn't make the connection.

#205 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Elise @ 173: I walked in to find all 70 copies of Heinlein's JOB face-out in Business and Careers.

A friend's only response to this story was, "A chain bookstore had 70 copies of Heinlein's JOB? Wow!"

#206 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Direct political activism: Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell. Old, but still very relevant.

#207 ::: Bernard Yeh ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 05:05 AM:

Some fine self-help books by Steven Brust:
Divorce and separation management: Teckla and Phoenix
The finer points of food and dining: Dzur
How to help friends in need: Issola
Guest management: Yendi
Joining the army? Dragon
Advice for visiting the old country of your grandparents that you have never been to before? Jhegaala
Mentoring a teenager? Athyra
Financial planning for bankers: Orca
How to make a good impression at your new job: The Phoenix Guards
Strategies for dealing with management: To Reign in Hell

#208 ::: Reba ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 03:23 PM:

For the business help section:

How to run a bed & breakfast: The Keeper Series - Tanya Huff

Building a customer base for your auto repair shop (albeit slowly):
The Mercedes Thompson Series - Patricia Briggs

How to avoid taking over the family business... or not: Industrial Magic - Kelley Armstrong

Making the most of a working vacation: Shadrach in the Furnace - Robert Silverberg


#209 ::: Syd sees a spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 07:22 PM:

At #210. My inner editor cringes.

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