Books for Dads: Handy Dad vs. Man Skills

Geek Culture

Handy Dad vs. Man SkillsHandy Dad vs. Man Skills

Hopefully by now you’ve already got something planned for Father’s Day and you’re not still scrambling for ideas. (We’ve had our Gift Guides #1 and #2 in case you need to refer to those again.) But just in case you just haven’t found the right thing yet, here are two more recently-released books just in time for Dad.

Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids by Todd Davis is a great-looking resource for those dads out there who (like myself) aren’t really very handy. Of course, it’s no Geek Dad, but maybe the dad in your life would rather build a go-cart than a LEGO R/C car. If so, then take a look at Handy Dad. From easy projects that you can do in a couple hours (build a lava lamp, water bottle rocket, or homemade slip-and-slide) to weekend projects like a zip-line or tree house, it’s a nice collection of projects to do with (or for) your kids. Of course, several of the bigger building projects require tools that I don’t actually have, but the instructions are presented clearly and simply so I do feel like I could tackle most of them if I borrow stuff from the neighbors. There were a couple of projects that I felt were a little weak (the paper airplane was the least impressive, and the turkey-feather angel wing wall decor was a bit tacky); most of them were pretty exciting, though.

On the other end of the spectrum is The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Man Skills. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the books from this series before, explaining things like how to jump off a building or how to defend yourself from a bear. Unlike Handy Dad, which narrows things down to a manageable list, Man Skills is a monster-sized volume, about 500 pages of how-to instructions and advice on a broad range of subjects. There are sections on Great Escapes, Sports and Hobbies, Love and Sex, Domestic Disasters, Work, and Out and About. The advice in it ranges from serious to absurd, though the authors claim that everything has been vetted by experts in the relevant fields. This edition also comes with a searchable DVD that includes the contents of the book and other “manly extras” like screensavers and a certificate of manliness. I should note that though all the advice is targeted toward men, not all of it is necessarily relevant for dads—How to Date Three People at Once, for instance, or How to Share a Studio Apartment with Three Roommates. On the other hand, there are some bits that are particularly useful for dads: How to Rid a Bedroom of Monsters, How to Survive Your Child’s First Date, and Essential Parent Clichés.

Both Handy Dad and Man Skills are likely to bring a smile to your face, for different reasons. Handy Dad, because of the fun you can anticipate having with your kids after you build some of the great projects in it. Man Skills, because of the cornucopia of bizarre advice which—if things go well—you’ll probably never find yourself using. Personally, I’m more fond of Handy Dad and I’m hoping to attempt a couple projects in it during the summer. Man Skills is good for some laughs but despite the title is not actually as practical or useful in most situations.

Ask me again when I find myself needing to make a fire from a single stalk of bamboo, though. I might change my mind.

Handy Dad and Man Skills are both from Chronicle Books and available at your local bookstores or online.

Disclosure: Chronicle Books provided review copies of both books.

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