Almanac of Awesomeness

It takes a lot of work and imagination to be someone other people want to remember for all time. We’re not talking about eating-a-lot-of-hot-dogs or profiled-by-People-magazine level of awesomeness. We’re talking about being the type of person to the history books for learning to grow meat, becoming a superhero, or ruling with an iron fist.

There are plenty of self-help books out there that teach you about building your self-esteem, but that’s nothing compared to learning the secret of time travel (hint: head for the future) or walking on fire (know your physics; ashes make great insulators for your tootsies).

For those who want to become the epitome of awesomeness, “Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing: Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a Nation, Impress a Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion” is for you. Written by contributors to the Mental Floss website, it’s a lot like Cecil Adams’ “Straight Dope” books, which combines questions people really want to know the answers to with the research to back it up, plus ample amounts of humor.

For example, to find the mate of your dreams, “Be Amazing” draws on studies of hormonal behavior showing that women prefer very masculine men (considered unfaithful but hot in bed) to have flings with — think Christian Bale or Alley Oop — but marry men with softer features, considered better at child-rearing and faithful (think Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp).

In addition, the illustrations by Mike Rogalski take the text and put a twisted spin on them — such as putting a huge Swiss army knife in the hand of a duelist, dressing a llama in a hazmat suit and dressing Andy Warhol stocking grocery store shelves (with Campbell’s soup, natch) — that adds another level of fun.

As a self-help book, it shouldn’t be taken seriously (unless you really do want to learn how to drive a tank, or become an American icon). But if you ever need to know how to operate on yourself, build an inland sea, become a ninja or become an American icon, “Be Amazing” will show you how. It may not be easy; it may even be impossible; but it will be amazing.