The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks

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I love the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks, a series of books with information on living through a variety of awful experiences. Some of the scenarios and instructions for survival are funny, but many are totally serious. Today I’ll tell you what I think of each of the books in this collection.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worst-Case_Scenario_series), it all started in 1999.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht is a book published in 1999 by Chronicle Books. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide[1] and spawned a series of related books, games, and a television show called Worst Case Scenarios.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook  will tell you how to survive interactions with sharks, bears, mountain lions, and alligators, as well as how to jump from a moving car and how to jump from a moving motorcycle into a moving car. Aren’t these skills everyone needs?

This book isn’t as fun as others in the series. Learning how to survive a confrontation with a person shooting at you is not as lighthearted as how to avoid getting cornered under the mistletoe by someone you don’t want to kiss or how to cope if you are on a date and realize that you have forgotten your wallet. However, learning where to cower during an earthquake or how to survive getting stranded is good information to have.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex
Jennifer Worick teamed up with Piven and Borgenicht for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex, first published in 2001. This book is full of lots of step-by-step instructions to get people out of all sorts of sex-related mishaps.

Topics include (but are not limited to) how to spot fakes (breasts, toupees), how to fake an orgasm (not recommended–by me or the book), what to do if you can’t remember the name of the person you wake up next to, how to ditch your date, what to do if don’t have enough money to pay the bill, and how to successfully have an affair.

Highly recommended, if only for a laugh.

James Grace teamed up with Joshua Piven for 2002’s The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Golf.

.Reading the book did not help improve my golf game because I don’t have a golf game. I don’t play golf. I’ve never played golf. I never hope to play golf. However, since I’d read almost all of the other Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbooks, I jumped at the chance to read this one too.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Golf
In true Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook style, this book is both funny and informative. Funny: advice on how to “How to Thwart a Cheat.” Informative: “How to Play Out of a Water Trap.” Funny and Informative: “How to Survive Being Hit in the Goolies.” (Yes, “goolies” are just what you think they are.) Also funny: “How to Disarm an Irate Golfer,” “How to Control Your Golf Rage,” and “How to Cure a Golf Addiction.” The line-drawing illustrations are wonderfully humorous too.

I gave the book away pretty soon after I finished it, but it was worth the hour or so I spent reading it.

In 2002, the world received a gift in Piven and Borgenicht’s The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Holidays. This book is hilarious. It gives all sorts of simple step by step instructions for surviving whatever catastrophe may befall your holiday season.

In addition to Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, co-authors for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Parenting include  Sarah Jordan and  Brenda Brown. This book was first published in 2003, and is the funniest Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook I’ve read. I almost passed it up  because I don’t have and will never have children, but I’m really glad I read it anyway.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Parenting
To think, I almost missed out on knowing that “many monsters are afraid of the color green,” that skills for dealing with a stray dog are nearly the same as skills for dealing with a stray exchange student, and that while “couples frequently disagree over whether to bribe children,” kids are “almost always…in favor of it.”

I busted out laughing when I saw the section titled “How to Recapitate a Doll.” Recapitate, now that’s a great word. I don’t know if it’s standard English, but I will be using it from now on. Recapitate! Brilliant!

Another fantastic section is “How to Discipline an Imaginary Friend.” Funny, funny, funny! I like the idea of telling a kid that if s/he is going to play with an imaginary friend, “they both need to be on good behavior and are both responsible for any broken vases, stolen cookies, or messes.” Also fantastic is the idea of creating “activities to keep the imaginary friend out of trouble,” such as sending him/her to “(imaginary) music lessons,” “(imaginary) summer camp,” or “(imaginary) boarding school.” I laughed so hard when I read all of that.

The illustrations are hilarious too. The drawings that go along with how not to use a stroller (“as a shopping cart, as a sidecar, as a scooter/skateboard, when running with the bulls in Pamplona) were fantastic. Also great are the pictures showing how to break up fights between parents at Saturday soccer.

Please, please, please, the next time a breeder in your life tells you they are expecting a bundle of joy(?), give them a copy of this book.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Work
In my opinion, 2005 brought one of Piven and Borgenicht’s least useful books in the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks series.

 The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Work was mildly funny and barely helpful. I’m not going to try to get a job as a forklift operator or a brain surgeon, so I don’t really need to know how to fake my way through a job interview for one of those positions. And if I have to clean up on aisle 7, will I really have time to read the appropriate entry before heading to the spill? I think not. But it’s good to know the resource is out there if I ever need it.

Jennifer Worick once again joined the Piven/Borgenicht team for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Collage, first published in April 2004. Even though my collage days are far behind me, I enjoyed this book very much. Parts of it were really funny.

My favorite sections are the “hippie” portion of “How to Take on a New Identity” (it’s spot-on); the food

Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College
equivalency chart (the caloric equivalent in mugs of beer for a variety of food items); “How to Eat When You’re Broke;” “How to Sleep in the Library;” and “How to Tell Your Parents You’ve Been Expelled.”

Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Sarah Jordan were back at it with The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Weddings, first published in 2004. I’ve never had a wedding of my own. I never plan to have a wedding of my own, so I’ll probably never use the advice offered in this book.

This volume about weddings didn’t offer a lot of laughs for me. I think this book mostly played it straight. Or maybe it was just that the parts that were supposed to be for laughs, well, maybe the jokes just weren’t that good.

I thought the illustrations were some of the funniest parts of the book. (See “Extreme Heat/Extreme Cold” on page 81 or “Disaster Honeymoon” on page 148.)

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings
The disasters contained in this book all related to the bride and groom; the advice is all for them. Guests could have used some advice for surviving wedding disasters too.

Also, I think there should have been advice for the bride or groom who realizes right before the wedding that this impending marriage is a bad idea and has decided to call the whole thing off or to go along with it anyway.

Another cool book in the Worst-Case Scenario series is 2005’s The Worst-Case Scenario Book of Survival Questions. This one was authored by the duo of Piven and Borgenicht and helps readers determine if they can survive a variety of disasters.

It includes disaster scenarios ending in multiple choice options the reader can choose from. Turn the page and find out what’s the best answer and why. Some scenarios have no best option, so the reader is given two choices and

The Worst-Case Scenario Book of Survival Questions
told the pros and cons of each. The book ends with the “Worst-Case Scenario Survival Aptitude Test.” I gave this test to friends and found that a lot of the questions are not in the pages of the book, making it kind of unfair.

Josh Piven and David Borgenicht were at it again with The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: LIFE, first published in 2006.

Where else are you going to learn what to do if the pandas won’t mate, the sauce is too garlicky, the lobsters escape, giraffes stampede, a bird gets loose in the house, you get caught passing a note in class, you’re stalked by a leopard while lost in the jungle, or a bird gets caught in your hair? Seriously, this book answers all of these questions, plus more, more, more.

The illustrations, while few, are absolutely hilarious!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: LIFE
Read this book in the safety of your own home, before you need all the information it provides,

There are a couple of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks I haven’t read. I guess I’m not the target audience for The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Manhood, but I really, really want to read The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Paranormal. It’s not currently listed on BookMooch, so I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it at thrift stores.

One Response »

  1. I guess that I’m not as easily amused. I read their first book on on basic survival, and realized that I should write books, because publishers will obviously print ANYTHING. It was effing stupid!

    But the real problem with this book is the bad advice it gives to people who are so uneducated, so ignorant, so incapable of actual thinking, and so flat-out STUPID, that if a bad situation arises, they are likely to follow the advice of the feces-for-brains authors. You see, stupid people can’t tell the difference between good and bad advice.

    It’s bad enough that real people do the stupid things that they see done on TV and movies, but for a pair of millennial gargoyles like Piven and Borgenicht to try to pass their advice off as sound is really close to criminal.

    If there is a bright side, it might be that America’s already-here brainless zombies will follow P and B’s advice and reduce the surplus population of idiots. Maybe we should send one to every member of Congress.

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