Tag Archives: Joshua PIven

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks


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.

[amazon template=image&asin=0811825558] 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.

[amazon template=image&asin=0811832414]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.

[amazon template=image&asin=0811834603]In true Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook style, this book is both funny and informative. Funny: advice on “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.

[amazon template=image&asin=0811841553]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.

[amazon template=image&asin=0811835758]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 [amazon template=image&asin=0811842304]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.)

[amazon template=image&asin=0811845370]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 [amazon template=image&asin=0811845397]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!

[amazon template=image&asin=0811853136]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.

Xmas Book Reviews


christianity, jesus, mariaIn celebration of the virgin birth, I am giving my readers a collection of reviews of Xmas related books today.

The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John Updike with illustrations by Edward Gorey

I really enjoyed this sort of anti-Christmas book. It points out how weird the Christmas holiday really is. Isn’t the idea of Santa going down the chimney really strange?

Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins

How this book got published, I will never know.

It is full of hundreds of photos of kids sitting on Santa’s lap, crying, screaming, trying to escape. Yep, the whole theme of this book is getting a laugh out of the misery of little children.

Don’t get me wrong, twenty-five or thirty photos of kids having negative reactions to Santa Claus might have been funny. However, hundreds and hundreds of the same kinds of pictures quickly becomes totally boring. Yawn!

The captions are even worse than the photos. I’m sure the caption writers were trying to be clever, but most of what they came up with is just plain dumb.

I can’t imagine who would buy this book. (I borrowed the copy I read from my public library, and I’m a bit miffed that my tax dollars were spent on this dreck.) Will families buy this book and look at it lovingly every year until it becomes part of their family tradition? Yikes!

[amazon template=image&asin=1846471737] Merry Christmas Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent

My sibling gave me this book. I love it because the (adult male) bear and the (little girl) mouse who live together go dumpster diving to get the supplies they need for a Christmas party. This book shows kids a non-typical family and that it’s ok to get what one needs out of other people’s trash. Hasn’t the Christian right banned this book yet?

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

This book is hilarious. It gives all sorts of simple step by step instructions for surviving whatever catastrophe may befall your holiday season. I love this whole series.

Hilary Knight’s The Twelve Days of Christmas by Hilary Knight

This is another Christmas book from my childhood.

It’s the traditional “The Twelve Days of Christmas Song” paired up with lovely pictures. An anthropomorphic bear giving the presents to his bear lady love. (I just found out a female bear is called a sow, just like a pig. A male is a boar.) It’s the super cute illustrations that make this book worth reading.

My very favorite part is the supporting character raccoon cat (ha!) burglar trying to open a tightly closed trash can.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in California by Laura Rader

The emphasis of this book is on California, not on Christmas. I think even a family who doesn’t celebrate Xmas (but does like California) could like this book.

There are three components of this book.

#1 Bright color illustrations showing the California themed things (4 hummingbirds, 6 otters smiling, 12 redwoods swaying) that the California cousin gives to her young relative from out of state. The illustrations are nice.

#2 The basic story of “On the first day of Christmas…On the second day of Christmas…”, etc. This short version of the story is in bold print and would be appropriate for young children (toddlers) who can’t sit through a long, involved story.

#3 The longer, involved story, told through letters written by the visiting cousin to his parents back home. These letters include lots of additional information about whatever California-related thing the kid received from the cousin that particular day. These letters are appropriately read to or by an older kid who can sit through the longer story.

The book contains a LOT of facts about California. A kid in elementary school could use this book at any time of year to do a report on the Golden State.

One thing I didn’t like about this book was “Cali” the “talking” California valley quail (the California state bird). The book did NOT need the gimmick of a talking quail.

One thing I did like about the book is that except for the talking quail and the small redwood tree she comes in, the cousin doesn’t actually give any physical items. Most 12 Days of Christmas stories are overrun with the consumerism of a dozen pear trees and a score of gold rings.

Cajun Night Before Christmas by Howard Jacobs, illustrated by James Rice  [amazon template=image&asin=0882899406]

My sister and I had a copy of this book when we were little. I don’t know where it came from.

My cousin Denise’s husband Mark could do the accent for reading this book, as could my dad. I don’t think I could do it so well, but I haven’t tried for years.

This is the classic Christmas story told with a Cajun twist and illustrated beautifully. No Cajun household is complete without a copy.

The picture of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/maria-mery-sant-51524/. The other images are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on any of those images, you’ll go right to Amazon. Anything you click on and then buy will earn me a small advertising fee.