Self-help Books for Dummies

reviews some pocket-sized guides for navigating the daunting worlds of politics and adulting

Quentin Parker’s The Little Book of Adulting, and Steven Gauge’s The Little Book of Politics are part of the “Little Book of” series by Summersdale Publishers; laid out in simple formats, these two pocket-sized books are both very light to read and practical for on-the-go. Neither reveal the nitty-gritty details of how to master adulthood, or how to become the world’s best politician, but they serve well as introductions to, or reminders of, the basic and necessary details of both topics.

Image: Periodisimo Internacional

The Little Book of Adulting is split into a multitude of categories and sub-categories that form a broad sense of adulthood. The aim of the book is to show young adults how to balance responsibility and fun, like cleaning and… bouldering? (that is rope-free climbing). The guide also incorporates interactive activities that make responsibility seem more enjoyable, like mini timetables to organise daily routines effectively; little diagrams to illustrate how to clean up different types of mess – spilt red wine addressed first!

The book successfully touched base on a lot of topics: mental health, cooking, people skills, finances, cleaning, hobbies, work. Often there would be a few different suggestions for how to tackle these different aspects of adulthood. For hobbies, there would be suggestions for ‘adulting on a budget’, ‘adulting with some fun money’ and ‘posh adulting’, as simple as going for a run, to backpacking adventure holidays.

With cooking and cleaning, there are three levels of expertise explained: basic, next level, and expert level. An expert cleaner would know to put their delicates in a “little mesh bag” in the wash, and an expert chef would have a pestle and mortar at hand. Aside from a few patronising jokes, this is an easy-going book probably best suited as a gift for mid-late teens.

The Little Book of Politics was a really smooth read from start to finish. “Man is by nature a political animal.” Aristotle’s statement is presented at the start of the book, as the importance of politics is explained to the soon to be politically astute reader. Included were many punchy quotes and interesting facts that would make the book stimulating to read for those who already knew the basics.

Image: Periodisimo Internacional

The first half of the book was wading through facts we need to know about parliament: the general election timetable; how laws are passed; descriptions of different political roles, like the life of MPs and their various roles in parliament and those MPs working outside parliament. The second half of the book focused on the reader’s role coming into play in politics, using motivation and suggestions by mentioning the involvement from people in local councils, of people offering simply to join a campaigning group, to leaflet, or to attend party conferences, and of course turn up to vote.

Then, we become more engaged with current politics. One of the main points that Gauge was keen to highlight was the tangible difference that voting can make. He makes his case using examples of radical changes that have been made as a result of electoral turnouts. The book also describes huge changes that some individuals have made, with my personal favourite being that in 2017 “the egg industry in the UK was finally declared completely salmonella free” after Edwina Currie, a junior health minister years before, had declared that most eggs had salmonella in them. Both little books are fun to read and have the potential to make very good stocking-fillers or small gifts for teens and young adults.

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