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17 Overly Optimistic Book Titles

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Amazon.com

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.

Amazon

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

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

Ebay

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.

Amazon

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.

Biblio.com

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

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

Biblio.com

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

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

Ebay

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

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

Ebay

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

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

ToddAlcott.com

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

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

Amazon

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.

Amazon

This makes for an awesome party trick.

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

Ebay

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

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

Amazon

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

Yay!

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
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It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
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A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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