The title of the Believer's latest humor anthology, You're a Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice, makes it pretty obvious that the recommendations contained within are not meant to be practically relevant. Of course, if any of them feel relevant, then so be it. Who am I to discourage you from taking John Oliver's advice on how to break up with your mom (the answer involves capitalism and the ubiquitous "performance review")?
If the title doesn't make things clear enough, the roster of contributors on the cover -- Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Armisen, Judd Apatow, & many more -- should do the rest: the book is stuffed full of witty responses to witty questions written by the witty folks at The Believer. Which section you think is wittiest depends on your sense of humor, of course. I skipped Patton Oswalt, for instance, and went straight for Janeane Garofalo. Martha Plimpton and Michael Cera's sections were also surprise revelations. I would quote from Michael Cera, but it wouldn't do him justice; I'll just say that the payoff is bigger because he takes the time to weave his responses together.
So what kind of advice does You're A Horrible Person provide? There is no subject left untouched. Need to know whether you can substitute baking soda for baking powder? Michael Ian Black answers, "This sounds like the kind of question a terrorist would ask." And when Cheri Colvin (of Rochester, NY) expresses her fear regarding mole-removal (she thinks her melanoma-prone mole is the most interesting thing about her face), Larry Doyle replies, "You may want to consider how interesting your face will look with a big hole in it."
I am not a collector of advice books or humor anthologies and to be honest, after spending a few days with the book, I wasn't thinking of it as a "need-to-have." This morning, however, I discovered a reason to have the book-in-shelf: on a long-distance phone call with a friend I rarely see, I found myself reaching for it in order to read a section out loud. Not to impart any particular piece of wisdom; just to share a laugh.
You don't have to buy You're A Horrible Person to share its jokes: on April 15, 2010, The Believer hosts a book launch party slash Litquake benefit at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco, with appearances by Larry Doyle, Daniel Handler, Marc Maron, and Eugene Mirman. For tickets and information visit litquake.org.