Life skills we’ve learned from reading fiction

Here’s a post from Book Riot: Unnecessary Life Skills We Learned from Reading

My favorite: how to escape from prison and gain revenge: The Count of Monte Christo.

Yeahhh, pretty sure this particular method could not be used to escape from a modern prison; unless, of course, your prison happens to be on an island where bodies are disposed of by being thrown into the sea. For a more useful twist on the same basic method, The Shawshank Redemption would probably do better: sewer crawl instead of burial at sea.

And for revenge, not sure the basic lesson: First find a huge buried treasure is all that practical for most of us.

Let me see, stuff I’ve learned from reading, hmm. Well, how to fix a unicorn’s broken horn. Got that one from The Magic and the Healing, mentioned in yesterday’s post. Plus how to treat gout in birds, same place; also of course gout in the eagle foot of a griffin.

Oh, here’s one: if you’re kidnapped, make a real try at getting away as soon as possible, don’t wait. That’s from that recent-ish Mercy Thompson novel, Silence Fallen, and also any number of mysteries. I expect it’s probably good advice, for a situation that is perhaps not super-likely to occur in my calm, boring life.

The enemy’s gate is down . . . wait, not likely to need that one. Unless you take it as “Think outside the box in combat,” which is still not likely to come in handy, but no doubt substantially more likely than zero-gravity combat.

Never go anywhere alone with a guy you don’t know that well if you’ve discovered a body in the prior week or so. That’s always a bad idea, especially if you’re a female business owner who bakes, and most especially if you are developing a romantic relationship with a cop. Every cozy mystery in the world makes this plain.

If your nearest-and-dearest is bitten by a zombie, you really need to just shoot them right then. Waiting won’t help anybody.

Never put an alien artifact on your head unless you’re perfectly certain you’ll be able to take it off again.

Always be nice to SecUnits and other such entities. Be nice in general when a SecUnit is present. You never know when you might need that SecUnit to jigger its governor module and save your life. …. I guess that if you generalize this one sufficiently broadly, it’s actually pretty good advice.

If an AI / alien / who knows what invites you to join the Synergis, make sure you concentrate on developing your lan as fast as possible. That one’s probably not as generalizable.

What’s a real-life or not-real-life tidbit of important advice you’ve picked up from reading fiction?

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3 thoughts on “Life skills we’ve learned from reading fiction”

  1. When applying makeup for a disguise, remember your ears and the back of your neck. That’s pretty applicable though, esp if you include sunscreen.

    When you finally rescue or meet up with your friend / ally / whomever, fill them in on important details as soon as possible, otherwise when you inevitably get separated in T – .0003 seconds, it will cause preventable mistakes.

    When traveling, always carry rope.

    When traveling, split supplies evenly between your packs.

    Learn to pick locks before you get stuck in an adventure. (Hair pins are great.)

    Always help the elderly / poor / weak / disadvantaged. And be polite.

    Soap is made from ashes and oil. Or something like that.

  2. When I was younger I always used to carry around “useful stuff” in my coat pockets in case I should suddenly walk into an adventure – things like a Swiss pocket knife that included a saw and scissors, some string and paperclips to turn into fishhooks (I’ve never fished in my life), a small compact mirror for signalling, and something to eat even if it was only a roll of wrapped liquorice or sweets.
    I kept my eyes open for any tips on things like how to build a shelter and what plants are edible, and for explanations of simple technologies like spinning and weaving, papermaking, waterwheels, Victorian gardening, basic building techniques and such, but never practiced anything; except being responsible for the wood-burning stove in our holiday home, and learning to cook on that.
    Despite that, I’d probably have been fairly useless at surviving in more primitive conditions

    The more useful thing I picked up from all my reading was to have more compassion and understanding for people who are, and react, quite different from me. Immersing myself in lots of other viewpoints to enjoy their stories has helped me understand other points of view in real life, and inclined me more towards tolerance and compromise, and easing people’s hurts rather than fanning the flames. I consider this a valuable development of my character, learned from books, even if it’s not so much a specific skill I can name.

  3. Hanneke, wow. I bet everyone knew you were the one to ask for stuff. Got hand lotion? An emery board? Pocket knife? Tiny flashlight? Some people live their lives prepared! (I was never one of those people, even though I also tried to memorize things like how to make soap and gunpowder.)

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