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The How-To Handbook: Shortcuts and Solutions for the Problems of Everyday Life    by Martin Oliver & Alexandra Johnson order for
How-To Handbook
by Martin Oliver
Order:  USA  Can
Zest, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This could well be the most useful book you have in your home. There are certain things a person needs to know or be able to do, yet sometimes no one has really explained how to do these things. It is just assumed you know how to tie a tie, catch a spider or wrap a gift.

Now there's a little book filled with easy to follow instructions on how to do some of these everyday tasks. The How-To Handbook presents fifty essential life skills for everyday life.

The book is divided into six parts: Everyday Essentials, Looking (and Smelling) Good, Get to Know Your Kitchen, Clean Up Like a Pro, Do It Yourself and Emergency Skills 101.

Under the heading of Everyday Essentials, you'll discover how to pack a suitcase so everything fits in, wrap a gift so it doesn't look like a six year old did it, and banish the hiccups.

If you want to learn how to tie either a regular tie or a bowtie, iron a pair of pants, or shine your shoes so they look like a pro did them, you'll want to consult the Looking (and Smelling) Good! chapter.

Those who never learned how to boil an egg, cook pasta so it doesn't resemble paste, unstick chewing gum, sew on a button, clean windows or fold a fitted sheet will find step-by-step instructions that will take the mystery out of these household activities.

Each explanation includes diagrams, a list of supplies you might need to perform the task and clear, numbered instructions. It takes three pages to walk the reader through wrapping a gift, but if the 15 steps are followed the end product will dazzle the person who receives the nicely wrapped container.

You'll also find helpful tips to make the tasks easier. For example, once you have made a perfect pot of pasta, try either a butter and black pepper sauce or one that combines tomato sauce and grated Parmesan.

The warnings range from always wash your hands after handling raw eggs to potato peelers can be deceptively sharp so be careful!

'The smoother you handle life's little moments of chaos, and the more adept you become at managing all of life's little obstacles, the more likely people are to turn to you for help,' write the authors in the book's introduction. 'That can be a burden sometimes, sure, but as James Bond continues to demonstrate in sequel after sequel, there are few things cooler than an assured bearing, a steady hand, and the confidence of knowing how to get things done.'

Although this book is intended for readers in middle school or high school, there's enough good information here that older individuals will also benefit from a quick read through. This might be a good book to slip into the suitcase of a young person heading off to college for his or her freshman year, or someone setting up his/her own apartment.

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