“The Pessimist’s Handbook” is for people who expect the worst. If you fret about the possibility of a near-earth object smashing into our planet or worry about an oceanic volcanic eruption triggering a mega-tsunami, you’ll probably enjoy—if that’s the right word—the pessimistic half of this two-in-one tome. Filled with hundreds of facts, statistics and proverbs that celebrate a negative worldview, it provides cold comfort to the gloomy realist who believes the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
If you’re the more hopeful type, however, don’t despair. Just flip the book over and—voilà—the more uplifting half of this so-called companion is revealed. Chock full of inspirational quotes and feel-good vignettes, “The Optimist’s Handbook” is for the perky utopian convinced that a brighter future is just around the corner—not to mention the 80 percent of the population who believe they are better-than-average drivers.
So whether you’re an optimist or pessimist, when it comes to the split-personality “Handbook,” there’s something for everyone. Or, if you like mixed messages, there’s probably something here for you too. In the words of journalist Chase Johnson: “Cheer up! The worst is yet to come!”