Thursday, May 15, 2008

Read The #@%&*! Instructions

As a follow-up to last week's question about writing manuals, this week's BTT Question is about manuals in general:

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

Do you ever read manuals?

How-to books?

Self-help guides?

Anything at all?

It'll be interesting to see if there's a correlation with participant answers from last week to this week.

For myself, I now read the supporting documentation with those complicated gadgets. Especially the ones we need to put together. After an incident with a vacuum cleaner and a runaway base that kept blowing dust up into the air while I chased it with the bag/handle, my wife decided for me that the instructions weren't "merely suggestions."

Other than that, I'm not big on the "how-to" books. I remember getting an "Idiot's Guide To Being A Groom" as a present when I first announced to my family that I was engaged. The only thing I remember from it was a suggestion to watch The Godfather to relax on the day of my wedding. I didn't do either.

Oh wait, do cookbooks count? Doesn't get more "How To" than that. I do use those on occasion.

Self-help guides? Not so much. I don't trust advice from someone that doesn't know me or my circumstances. Not to say readers can't adapt what's applicable and what's not, but they're just not for me.

And I'm not sure where travel books fit in, but I have bought a few of those over the years as well. My most recent one was a guide to family vacations. Can't wait to try some of those out.


BooksPlease said...

Things that need putting together can be so tricky - there's usually something left over, although my husband says that they are spare parts.

I didn't think of cook books - I regularly use those, but adapt the recipes to suit the ingredients I have to hand.

Chrisbookarama said...

I thought of cookbooks too. Travel books count, I think. How not to get lost, kidnapped, that sort of thing.

Melanie said...

i completely forgot about travel books. I just kinda read those anyway when i wish i could go on a trip somewhere exotic

Unknown said...

I like manuals. For new gadgets I usually read at least part if not all documentation. Anything that actually has to be put together - i read the manual.

I think I own a couple "idiot's guides..." to things like programming languages. And I have several cookbooks I use.

I don't read/use self-help guides though.

Anonymous said...

I love travel books. I can devour those anywhere anytime!

And I do read the instruction manuals. I have too. As I do not have a husband to explain it all to me!


Megan said...

I think you make an excellent point that some author of a self help book has no idea where you are in your life, but sometimes you know what you are looking for and find the book that you need. But this is the same reason why I really like workbook style self help books. They help me to push my mind into thinking about myself in new ways. And who doesn't like to think about themselves? And talk about themselves? And mention how beautiful and wonderful they are... Or, well, maybe that's just me?!?

Allison said...

I love reading travel books!

I tend to read instructions/manuals for such things as putting furniture together, but hardly ever for technology. Too stubborn for that, I guess.

Melody said... books! I haven't thought of that. I'll read them before going on a trip, but then I still find internet is the best source of everything.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I read the manuals if I get stumped but generally try to wing it first.

Never how-to or self-help books. Love certain travel books by specific writers howver.

Jodie Robson said...

The trouble with travel guides is that they leave out vital information, like what colour a mail-box is in country X, or that the tram has a little machine you feed your ticket into - I'm making it up, but, especially when travelling alone, you can find yourself staring around helplessly, unable to find what you are looking for. Not, if they gave instructions, that I would read them.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Now when John Wayne rode in to town to tackle the cattle barons in their fancy Eastern Style ranches you never see anyone struggling with a flat pack manual. Yet mail order catalogues took off in the 19th century so did the fancy furniture arrive all made up? We need an answer!!

John Mutford said...

Booksplease: Sometimes there are indeed spare parts. Though I wish they'd all tell us when they have thrown in a few extras, just to spare us the stress.

Chris: If my travel guide feels the need to instruct me on how not to kidnapped, I think I'll skip the vacation ;)

Melanie: I've probably given the impression that I've done a lot of traveling. I have, but only in Canada. Outside of that I've only been to Jamaica, California, and Hawaii.

Jen: The programming manuals crack me up when libraries try to pawn them off at used book sales. Does anyone really need a WordPerfect 5.0 Dummies Guide?

Gautami: There are travel guides, then there's travel writing. I appreciate both, but would like to read more of the latter.

Megan: I know they work for a lot of people and I'm cool with that.

Allison: I'd love to find a practical book that would make interesting reading. An entertaining book on car maintenance would be nice. Unless it's Zen and The Art of Car Repair *shudder*

Melody: The internet is the best source, for sure.

Barbara: Do you remember the Simpsons quote that (roughly) goes, "'Tis a fine barn, but tis no pool English." That'd be me if I winged it.

Geranium Cat: Of course no travel book could be complete, but still neat to have some idea of the sights and attractions that I'd like to see (or avoid).

John's Comments: Ikea still hadn't caught on, I guess.