Book Review – How To Traumatize Your Children

How To Traumatize Your Children is one in a series of intentionally dubious “how-to” books by the publisher Knock Knock. Artfully called the “self-hurt” series, these books are put together like a standard how-to or field guide, but cover topics that one would likely rather not have happen. So it’s all a joke, kindof, and if you see the cover and think it looks funny, you’ll probably think it’s funny.

The construction of the book itself is very nice, with a plastic-y feeling cover that reminds one of water-resistant guidebooks or first aid manuals. It’s a nice size and it feels good in the hand, being both substantial and slightly textured, though it is prone to creasing, and when it does it is quite unsightly. The pages are nice and thick, with a substantial binding that really locks everything in place. The presentation is just really nice and evocative. I’m a fan.

Unfortunately, once inside things start to go downhill a little bit. The book is divided into 10 chapters, 7 of which are various types of parenting styles, bookended by an introduction and conclusion like this is some kind of essay. It starts off pretty funny, with an interesting rationalization for the book’s existence at the front and a nice step-by-step guide on how to traumatize kids in different ways. The first problem here is the graphic design: little yellow “bubbles” with competing thoughts start to pop up in chapters as little asides, but these quickly start coming in between connected paragraphs, or in some case in the middle of paragraphs, running the flow of reading into a brick wall at inopportune moments. And the second is that the joke gets old pretty fast, and the writer(s?) makes no attempt to get more creative with it as time goes on. While the book lists many “different” parenting styles, they all end up being described in the same way, and the list of effects they have on the children is essentially unchanged each chapter. There’s nothing new, it just keeps talking and talking and talking. If I had read the introduction, two middle chapters at random, and then the conclusion, I would’ve gotten all this book had to give me, and maybe even had a better experience.

It’s not too egregious, and I wasn’t frustrated or angry as I continued, but it just got boring. And for a book that is basically a joke, that’s forgivable. I don’t think anyone was really intended to read the entire thing. It seems more like something you’d leave lying around for when guests come around, or give as a gag gift (or get tricked into buying at a store) that someone will pick up, laugh, leaf through a few pages, laugh again, and then put down. And it does that quite well. Whether or not that’s worth the cover price is up to you.

I was disappointed, but only mildly. My expectations for a book called How To Traumatize Your Children were justifiably quite low, and this book actually surpassed them for a moment in the beginning, but failed to live up to its own promise. It’s a well put together item, with well done if… lifeless artwork, and questionable graphic design/layout. The contents are funny, but not too funny, and maybe at bit too cynical. It just left me really ho-hum on the whole matter. If you read the title and thought it sounded funny, this might be the book you’re looking for, but it really has nothing more to offer than that, and to some it might still fall flat.

How To: Move

Moving is a precarious process that the majority of people with lives and things to do will have to go through at some point in their lives. That’s why it’s very important to not plan it out at all and to make as many mistakes as possible.

In order to move, one must first go to their local Wal-Mart (it must be Wal-Mart, no matter how far away the nearest one is) and buy $100 dollars’ worth of boxes (Not including tax). Start from the largest sizes and work your way down, being sure to not have a cart so your arms are constantly filled and your motor skills impaired.

Go back to the place where you are moving from, and crumple up any documents and papers you have to use as packing material. If you don’t have enough, go back out and purchase some. Then grab all of the things you own (make sure they are indeed your things) and place one in each box, then fill the boxes with the packing material and staple them shut.

Now go and rent the biggest trailer at the local trailer-renting place. Then decide you aren’t comfortable with the trailer and get a truck. Drive it back home and get a snack, (you’ve earned it). Watch TV for the rest of the day.

Get up early the next day and load all of the boxes carefully into the truck and close it, making sure things don’t move around too much when it’s moving. Drive the truck to the gas station and fill it up. Then remember you have no place to move to. Get a snack.

How-To: Screw up Your Sleep Schedule

People need sleep, but not everyone needs the same amount. The secret is finding out how much sleep you really need, and after following these few simple steps, you’ll find out it’s surprisingly little.

First, isolate yourself from other people; they will only slow you down. If you have a job, quit that job in a spectacular fashion and start making 50K online right now. Now that you’re working from home with no friends, you are the master of your own domain. Name it a pun based on your name, and proceed with the next phase.

Second, using the massive amounts of money you get working from home, purchase all of the soda you can from the nearest store. If you break the shopping carts there you get bonus points. Begin drinking all of this soda as if you were a programmer, only it’s not diet soda, and you don’t need it as a requirement for your job.

Using this technique, start going to sleep an hour later each day while working. If your work doesn’t allow you to work later, pretend you have friends (remember what it is like; it’s surprisingly easy to get caught). And set your alarm for the same time each day. When you don’t get up with your alarm, don’t worry. Just keep repeating the process until you sleep through every alarm, are tired all of the time, and have no sense of what time even is.

Quickly you will find that you have gone to sleep at 7 in the morning, and have no idea what time it is when you wake up because all of the batteries in your house have died. Congratulations, you have done it. Now celebrate with soda.