17 Overly Optimistic Book Titles

There have always been how-to and inspirational guides, but it wasn't until about 100 years ago that they began to use the "you can do it" trope right in their titles. The first one I could find, from 1913, was titled simply, You Can (subtitle: "A collection of brief talks on the most important topic in the world—your success"). Since then, more and more books every year have told us what we "can" do. Most of the claims are reasonable, even if they do make it all seem a bit too easy. But these particular titles badly overestimate our abilities.

1. You Can Make A Stradivarius Violin. Joseph V. Reid, 1967.


Well, get to it then. This will save you a lot of money!

2. You Can Master Life. James Gordon Gilkey, 1938.


Honestly, some people don't know how to show their life who's boss.

3.You Can Change the World!: The Christopher approach. James Keller, 1948.


I guess this didn't work the last time I tried it because I was using the Robert approach.

4. You Can be Happy with Dental Plates. Max M. Schwartz, 1945.

Nope. I don't believe this for a second.

5. You Can Train Your Cat. Jo and Paul Loeb, 1977.

Don't believe this one either. Just look how that cat is staring you down.

6. You Can Find Uranium. Joseph Weiss, 1948.


And you'd better do it before the other guy finds it first.

7. You Can Stop Worrying. Samuel W. Gutwirth, 1957.


Yeah, right. Not with all those idiots out there hunting uranium I can't.

8. You Can Survive the Bomb. Col. Mel Mawrence, 1961.

Oh, then I guess I won't worry after all.

9. You Can Be Physically Perfect, Powerfully Strong. Vic Boff, 1975.


I will throw that bomb right back in their faces.

10. You Can Speak For God. George W. Schroeder, 1958.

Open Library

It's about time someone started doing this! Our problems are solved.

11. You Can Find A Fortune. Jeanne Horn, 1966.

History Bound

Great. I was getting tired of trying to make one myself.

12. You Can Teach Your Dog to Eliminate on Command. M.L. Smith, 1985.


This makes for an awesome party trick.

13. You Can Do Anything with Crepes. Virginia Pasley and Jane Green, 1970.


It's true. I used crepes to teach my dog to eliminate on command.

14. You Can Know the Future. Wilbur Moorehead Smith, 1971.


But that doesn't mean you should. Oh…nothing. Never mind.

15. You Can Have It All. Arnold M. Patent, 1991.

Open Library

But you'll have to give it back when the 90s are over. I know. I've seen the future.

16. You Can Do Anything! James Mangan, 1934.

Lenny's Rare Books

Eh, all I really want to do is play golf.

17. You Can Play Golf Forever. Louis Hexter, 1979.

Library Thing


Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN
YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.


More from mental floss studios