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Whether good or bad, advice is something you can get from any Tom, Dick and Dr. Phil. There’s nothing new about the concept of self-help books, but sometimes, titles come across our desk that are just too hard to ignore. Cases in point: the following tomes, all with advice from unexpected sources about atypical subject matter. They made us take notice and dig in to understand just what the hell we were looking at.
Cheat: A Man’s Guide to Infidelity (Simon & Schuster, $15)
Who’s dishing: Stand-up comics Bill Burr, Joe DeRosa and Robert Kelly
What it’s about: Three guys examine their spotty history with women, to give tips to budding young cheaters.
How helpful it is: Audacious though the subject matter may be, this trio clearly knows about that of which it speaks. Though they’ve done bad things, they label themselves “dirtbags” and claim to have given up their errant ways. The men evaluate where they went wrong, and come up with alarmingly practical ideas about how to get away with anything from choosing potential partners to lying believably. It’s sick, but also incredibly funny.
Quotable moment: “Welcome to one of the largest fraternities known to man.… So how do you join? It’s easy. The invitation is in your balls.”
Flirtexting: How to Text Your Way Into His Heart (Skyhorse Publishing, $13)
Who’s dishing: Digital-dating experts and “two of the great texting stylists of the English language,” Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz
What it’s about: Handwritten letters, e-mail and talking aloud are dead. The only way to ensure a man’s love is through flirtatious texting. Say it—“flirtexing.”
How helpful it is: Never knew that LNBT stands for late night booty text? This book can help. Care to recall the self-defeating thinking that slowed second-wave feminism? This book can really help. From maintaining the perfect Facebook profile to sexting etiquette, this manual hips its readers on everything relating to modern communication, even suggesting some ready-to-use “guy-friendly” movie and TV quotes if you’re in need of “fighting words.”
Quotable moment: [In the section titled “Movie Quotes”] “Use when he asks you how the weather is: ‘I’m sweatin’ like a Tijuana whore!’—The Break-Up”
Judging a Book by Its Lover (Harper Perennial, $15)
Who’s dishing: Lauren Leto from the Texts from Last Night blog
What it’s about: A mix of personal essays and criticism that both celebrates and playfully prods different aspects of book culture
How helpful it is: It’s packed with fun notions from someone who’s knowledgeable and clearly invested in the lit world. There are catty discussions about when to pick someone up at a bookstore, how to faking having read a classic text and what to expect from a dinner party at Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss’s place.
Quotable moment: [In a section titled, “Stereotyping People by Favorite Author”] “Chuck Klosterman: Boys who don’t read. Chuck Palahniuk: Boys who can’t read.”