Created By: allnaturaltrans4 on December 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on August 19, 2016

Specific Situation Books

Bringing up a book that is applicable to a problem characters are having.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Some examples from Tropes For Dummies would be a better fit here. Have to keep an eye on those, they have to be erased from there once this is launched.


Our heroes are in quite a pickle: There's an specific problem that needs solving, but they don't quite have the knowledge or ability to do it. Just before they can start brainstorming a plan, cue some very appropriate help in the form of an awfully specific book about just the very situation they are stuck in.

Due to this trope's silly nature, it is usually restricted to cartoons and other works leaning towards the silly end of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness. Furthermore, these books commonly have titles such as X for Dummies, How to X in 24 Hours, and so on.

Sister Trope to Tropes For Dummies. Compare to Great Big Book of Everything, which holds information about every specific situation rather than just a single one, and Coincidental Broadcast, which pulls a similar effect with news stations.


Examples

Fan Works

Film

Literature
  • In the first book of the Illuminatus! trilogy, a man takes over his country by following the suspiciously specific instructions of a book on how to overthrow your country in a military coup. He then looks for another book to provide him with similarly precise instructions on how to run a country, and finds The Prince.
  • In John Moore's Heroics for Beginners, Prince Kevin finds his tasks much easier due to his handy copy of The Handbook of Practical Heroics.
  • King Solomon's Mines. The explorers encounter an African tribe deep in the jungle. The tribesmen look like they might be in the mood to kill our heroes. One of the explorers just happens to have a book, an almanac, and said almanac says a lunar eclipse is about to occur. Armed with this knowledge the white people impress the natives by saying they can put out the moon, which they appear to do when the eclipse comes.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who episode "The Creature From The Pit". While trying to climb out of the titular pit, the Doctor produces a book from his pocket called Everest In Easy Stages. Sadly, it's in Tibetan, so he produces another book called Teach Yourself Tibetan.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a sketch in which the characters Mrs Premise and Mrs Conclusion end up having a discussion about the best way to put a budgie down. Incidentally, Mrs Conclusion has just finished reading a big book called How to Put your Budgie Down, and the best methods are either hit them over the head with a book, or shoot them just above the beak.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Spongebob Squarepants
    • In the episode "Squilliam Returns". Squidward gives SpongeBob a book about How To Become A Fancy Waiter In Less Than 20 Minutes
    • "Rodeo Daze" has a book titled How to Open Things. Spongebob can't open Sandy's door, but Patrick brings out the book. It conveniently has a whole page about Sandy's door. Also, Spongebob claims to have seen The Film of the Book of How to Open Things.
  • Back at the Barnyard episode "Mr. Wiggleplix". It has been a running gag with Abby; she brings out 4 books and a magazine article.
    • What To Do When Your Friend Has An Imaginary Friend He Thinks Is Real But You Know Is Not
    • What To Do When Your Friend Thinks He Has A Second Head Growing Out Of His Neck
    • What To Do At Your Friend's Imaginary Friend's Funeral
    • How To Help Your Friend Through The Mourning Process When His Imaginary Friend Gets Crushed By An Anvil
    • What To Do When Your Plan To Dress Up Like Your Friend's Imaginary Friend Goes Awry
  • The Fairly Oddparents episode "Cosmo Rules" Wanda gets a book to help cure Jorgen's Trick- Ups. Dr. Rip Studwell's 228 Ways To Cure the Trick- Ups.
  • The Simpsons. Subverted in "Dumbbell Indemnity", when Homer is in prison, he finds a book on the library trolley called How To Tunnel Out Of Prison. He uses it to bash the librarian over the head and runs off.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • From "Look Before You Sleep", there's Twilight Sparkle's Everything You Need To Know About Slumber Parties (But Were Afraid To Ask)
    • In "Pinkie Pride", Twilight has a rulebook for goof-offs. Spike lampshades this.
  • In the 1935 Looney Toons cartoon "Gold Diggers of '49", Beans the cat finds an old book on how to find gold. The book has only one phrase inside: "Dig for it!"
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote often consults books such as these when trying to catch the Roadrunner. One notable example is How to Dig a Burmese Tiger Trap (Tenth Printing).
  • One episode of Arthur had Arthur and Francine end up getting locked in the library when it closed. They go through the card catalog looking for a book on the subject.
    Francine: How to Escape from Prison, How to Escape from a Desert Island, AHA! How to Escape from a Library!
    [Cut to them looking through the stacks]
    Francine: It's not here! Someone must've checked it out! Why would you check out a book on how to escape from a library unless you were already in a library?

Real Life
  • In the 2008 National Book Festival, R.L. Stine gave an oral story in second-person called The Ghost of Horrorland. At one point, you are on a canoe with a zombie, and you have to choose whether to pick up a guitar pick or a book called How To Get Zombies Out Of Your Canoe. The book says "Use the guitar pick."


Community Feedback Replies: 73
  • December 28, 2012
    mdulwich
    Subverted in The Simpsons episode Dumbbell Indemnity: when Homer is in prison, he finds a book on the library trolley called "How To Tunnel Out Of Prison". He uses it to bash the librarian over the head and runs off.
  • December 28, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Not Another Teen Movie: Ricky (the Unlucky Childhood Friend) reads a book called How to Get the Uniquely Rebellious Girl Who's In Love with The Popular Boy.
  • December 29, 2012
    DaibhidC
    • In the Doctor Who serial "The Creature From The Pit", the Doctor, trying to climb out of the titular pit, produces a book from his pocket called Everest In Easy Stages. Sadly, it's in Tibetan, so he produces another book called Teach Yourself Tibetan.
  • December 29, 2012
    O
    Sister trope to Coincidental Broadcast.
  • December 30, 2012
    polarbear2217
    I don't know which genre this should go under, but in the 2008 National Book Festival, R.L. Stine gave an oral story in second-person called "The Ghost of Horrorland". At one point, you are on a canoe with a zombie, and you have to choose whether to pick up a guitar pick or a book called "How To Get Zombies Out Of Your Canoe." The book says "Use the guitar pick."
  • December 31, 2012
    GreatHylianKing
    A popular internet meme portrays a man with a book who's title is photoshopped onto the book, then the contents of the book, then the man's reaction. This is demonstrated here (foul language): http://anongallery.org/6842/famous-faggots-of-4chan

    You'll have to format yourself, I'm a bit rusty.

  • December 31, 2012
    GreatHylianKing
    ^^^^Also, that's downright ridiculous, because he and his companions having traveled in the Tardis should have the translation software change the language to English. At least in the revived TV show...
  • December 31, 2012
    wanderlustwarrior
    Don't just think about cartoons.

    Check the rest of the Suspiciously Convenient Index to see if we have it already. If not, add it to that when you launch this. Also, make sure it isn't the same as the Great Big Book Of Everything.
  • January 11, 2013
    MetaFour
    Fanfiction
    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Twilight Sparkle Gets a Free Salad, Twilight is arrested and held in a maximum-security underground facility, on suspicion of being a terrorist. She mentions to her interrogator that she read Escaping Maximum Security Holding Facilities For Dummies just that morning... and then she proceeds to escape. (Another book, Crippling Equestria's Economy For Dummies, is also mentioned to exist, but it doesn't actually get used.)
  • January 11, 2013
    Desertopa
    I hate being that guy adding a half-remembered example which is too vague to count, but in the first book of the Illuminatus! trilogy, a man takes over his country by following the suspiciously specific instructions of a book on how to overthrow your country in a military coup. He then looks for another book to provide him with similarly precise instructions on how to run a country, and finds The Prince.

    I'd look up the specifics, but I no longer have a copy of the book. If anyone does, or remembers the example better, they can add it in.
  • January 21, 2013
    Darthcaliber
    ^^ and in the actual series there's this famous moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Aq1qGz3Wd0
  • January 21, 2013
    MorningStar1337
  • January 22, 2013
    StarSword
    There's a Rocky Jones Space Ranger example over on Reading Ahead In The Script that fits here as well.
  • February 15, 2013
    minifail
    In the Friday Night Lights Pilot, Julie Taylor is reading Moby Dick and tells her father that the book is the perfect metaphor for Dillon, Texas, the town in which the show takes place.
  • February 15, 2013
    Xtifr
    Seems closely related to Tropes For Dummies, and will of course, be an example of Fictional Document.

    I wonder if this counts:

    Literature
  • February 4, 2014
    Polarbear2217
    ^^^^ Also in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: "Pinkie Pride" Twilight Sparkle has a rulebook for goof-offs. Spike lampshades this.
  • February 5, 2014
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names, sorted Examples section alphabetically by media type, and corrected improper Example Indentation in the Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly Oddparents and The Simpsons examples.
  • February 5, 2014
    Astaroth
    • Monty Pythons Flying Circus has a sketch in which the characters Mrs Premise and Mrs Conclusion end up having a discussion about the best way to put a budgie down. Incidentally, Mrs Conclusion has just finished reading a big book called 'How to Put your Budgie Down', and the best methods are either hit them over the head with a book, or shoot them just above the beak.
  • February 11, 2014
    Elbruno
    Compare to Great Big Book Of Everything, which holds information of every specific situation rather than just a single one.
  • February 11, 2014
    MaxWest
    Lampshaded (played for laughs?) in the 1935 Warner Brothers cartoon "Gold Diggers of '49"; Beans the cat finds an old book on how to find gold. The book has only one phrase inside: "Dig for it!"
  • February 11, 2014
    AP
    EDITED - my example is included in Great Big Book Of Everything
  • February 11, 2014
    TriforceP
    In Hong Kong Phooey, the title character commonly resorts to "The Hong Kong Phooey Book of Kung Fu", which has specific Kung Fu moves for any situation you could (or couldn't) think of.
  • February 17, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^That would be closer to Great Big Book Of Everything, as he uses it for a lot of situations rather than just one very specific one.
  • February 17, 2014
    DAN004
    Often the book will be titled "X For Dummies".
  • February 18, 2014
    Mamona
    Fan Works
    • In Turnabout Storm, Twilight reads a book called How to become a lawyer in 24 hours after she fires Phoenix. The book is... less than helpful, being quite outdated.
  • February 18, 2014
    randomsurfer
    During Mick Foley's run as Cactus Jack in WCW he carried around a real life book called I am in Desperate Need of Advice.

    EDIT v Had a feeling someone would say that.
  • February 18, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^Not this trope. Unless he pulled it only right as he needed advice, it doesn't count.
  • February 18, 2014
    Elbruno
    Hold on, I found Tropes For Dummies out there. Would you say that one covers this trope?
  • February 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ that'd be a Sister Trope.
  • February 18, 2014
    spacemarine50
    Might delete this from Tropes For Dummies:
    • Spongebob Squarepants, in episode "Rodeo Daze", has a book titled How to Open Things. Spongebob can't open Sandy's door, but Patrick brings out the book. It conveniently has a whole page about Sandy's door. Also, Spongebob claims to have seen The Film Of The Book of How to Open Things.
  • February 19, 2014
    TonyG
    Wile E. Coyote often consults books such as these when trying to catch the Roadrunner. One notable example is How to Dig a Burmese Tiger Trap (tenth printing).
  • February 20, 2014
    gallium
    Does it have to be a book with a meaningful title? Because there's a scene in King Solomons Mines where a party of explorers in Darkest Africa just happens to have an British almanac, which just happens to tell them that an eclipse is about to happen.
  • February 20, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^That's not this, meaningful title or not. The book is not a very convenient help for a problem they had just a moment before.
  • February 24, 2014
    Arivne
    Web Comics
  • February 24, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Web Comics
    • Among hundreds of books in the library of the denizens from Phillip Jackson's Sequential Art, the one placed conveniently on a lectern in strip #298 is titled "The Pypingrad Histories," which details the origins and destructive power of the little "shadow-people."
  • February 25, 2014
    spacemarine50
    Does it have to be books as long as it fits the spirit of this trope?
  • February 26, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ As long as it fits the rest of the trope I think it should count.

    It wouldn't make any sense to have separate tropes for each type of media (magazines, movies, TV shows etc.).

    Maybe change the title to Situation Specific Work?
  • February 26, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^ Yep; Tropes Are Flexible after all.
  • March 4, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Would the Professor (from Gilligans Island) and his seemingly endless supply of books qualify?
  • March 4, 2014
    flamingcarrot
    Girl Genius: Agatha hits a man with a copy of Using Found Objects as Weapons. How meta.
  • March 4, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^^ More context please?
  • March 4, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Whenever the castaways are having a problem, the Professor will either have a book with the necessary information, or he'll have studied the topic.
  • March 5, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ ^^^^ I don't remember the Professor ever having a book that was specifically about solving one particular problem, which is what this trope is about.
  • March 5, 2014
    flamingcarrot
    Elbruno, her library (I think) is invaded by attackers, so she grabs that book off of her desk and hits one in the face with it. I'm not sure what more context I can give.

    Possible overlap with Genre Savvy? e.g. "How to Escape from Big Ugly Monsters" in a horror movie - the character is not Genre Savvy per se, but is rather gaining awareness of their medium's tropes mid-scene?

    Maybe the article shoud be appended with something as simple as "May allow the reading characters to become Genre Savvy."
  • March 5, 2014
    gallium
    Re: my post uptrhead about King Solomons Mines.

    "That's not this, meaningful title or not. The book is not a very convenient help for a problem they had just a moment before."

    But it is. Here's what happens. The explorers encounter an African tribe deep in the jungle. The tribesmen look like they might be in the mood to kill our heroes. One of the explorers just happens to have a book, an almanac, and said almanac says a lunar eclipse is about to occur. Armed with this knowledge the white people impress the natives by saying they can put out the moon, which they appear to do when the eclipse comes.

    So it's a book that was relevant for a specific situation, it just doesn't have a suspiciously apropos title. Ruling?
  • March 5, 2014
    Elbruno
    @flamingcarrot: I was asking context for the Gilligan's Island entry there. Also, Genre Savvy could be appropiate to add; I'll think about it.

    @gallium: That sounds better. Tropes Are Flexible, and that seems to fit the spirit of the trope.
  • March 8, 2014
    TonyG
    I'm still not convinced. An almanac would still fall under Big Book Of Everything. A book solely on lunar eclipses would be a better fit for this trope.
  • March 9, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ This.
  • March 9, 2014
    Earnest
  • March 9, 2014
    PistolsAtDawn
    Just a note, in Girl Genius Agatha doesn't hit a man with that book, she hits a girl.
  • March 9, 2014
    Elbruno
    Regarding the almanac thing, it would not be a Big Book Of Everything, since that covers books that hold information on everything no matter how specific, and are always brought up no matter the circumstances. Although I am still a bit undecided on the vality of that entry as an example of this, what you said is not the reason why.
  • March 11, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ The Description says:

    "Just before they can start brainstorming a plan, cue some very appropriate help in the form of an awfully specific book about just the very situation they are stuck in."

    An almanac is not an "awfully specific book" about predicting a solar eclipse to avoid being killed.

    A book entitled "How to Avoid Being Killed By Predicting A Solar Eclipse" is.
  • March 14, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^Hmm... the reason I added it with the reason of Tropes Are Flexible is because it's an awfully convinient solution to the problem they had. (the conveniently titled version should be How to survive an encounter with an African tribe by the way). But like I said, I'm still unsure about it.

    Any other thoughts?
  • March 14, 2014
    StarSword
    Jokes:
    • A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were all given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume. The mathematician carefully measured the diameter and evaluated 4/3 * pi * (1/2 * diameter)^3. The physicist filled a beaker with water, put the ball in the water, and measured the total displacement. The engineer looked up the model and serial numbers in his "Red-Rubber-Ball" reference.
  • March 14, 2014
    StarSword
    Western Animation:
    • One episode of Arthur had Arthur and Francine end up getting locked in the library when it closed. They go through the card catalog looking for a book on the subject.
      Francine: How to Escape from Prison, How to Escape from a Desert Island, AHA! How to Escape from a Library! (cut to them looking through the stacks) It's not here! Someone must've checked it out! Why would you check out a book on how to escape from a library unless you were already in a library?
  • March 14, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Western A Nimation
    • The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Transylvania 6-5000" has the rascally rabbit select the book "Magic Words And Phrases" from a bookshelf as light reading before bedtime. As it turns out, magic words strongly affect vampires, which Bugs exploits to thwart Count Bloodcount repeatedly.
  • March 19, 2014
    DannyVElAcme
    Would the Duck siblings' Junior Woodchucks manual count?
  • May 11, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    ^Guess it would. It has information about everything.
  • May 11, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    ^^ If the same book is used more than once, it's Great Big Book Of Everything. In fact, the current page image is Donald and one of his nephews reading that book.

    I edited a typo in the trope description and shortened a phrase without cutting out wicks.
  • July 31, 2014
    XFllo
    bumping
  • November 6, 2014
    allnaturaltrans4
    bump
  • November 6, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Anime
    • Reizei Mako joined Team Anglerfish in Girls Und Panzer by chance: she jumped onto the tank's chassis to avoid being run over. Once inside the vehicle, Mako finds an operator's manual, and reads it. Mako comprehends the directions so well that she is able to replace injured driver Isuzu Hana, piloting the Panzer IV inordinately well.
  • November 7, 2014
    AgProv
    Literature
    • In the Discworld, the Librarian has a knack for matching the right book to the right person in times of Disc-threatening trouble. He discerns that the Necrotelicomnicon provides instructions for decoding The Boke of the Fillme in Moving Pictures. In Reaper Man, he provides Stripfellowe's Believe-It-Or-Notte Grimoire, which explains precisely what threat the City is under; and in Going Postal he gives Moist von Lipwig The Importance of Hats to contemplate as an exercise in practical headology (ie, what hat to wear and why).
  • November 7, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank lines for readability.
    • Examples section
  • November 8, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    A Justified variant appears in Murderess: the Enchiridionnote  opens on specific pages at specific times when Lu needs it to.
  • February 13, 2016
    allnaturaltrans4
    bump
  • February 13, 2016
    eroock
    We have three similar trope drafts. Time for merging?
  • February 13, 2016
    Chabal2
    • Discworld:
      • Vimes, trying to prevent a war with the much-better prepared Klatchians, finds a copy of General Tacticus' book and heads for the section titled "What to Do When One Army Occupies a Well-Fortified Fortress on Superior Ground and the Other Does Not". Unfortunately, it begins with the sentence "Endeavour to be the one inside."
      • The Unseen University library has a 2,000 page book titled "How to Kille Insects". We only get the title and not the instructions, but seeing as it can be used to concuss a troll...

  • February 14, 2016
    Koveras
    • In Shinozakisan Ki Wo Ota Shika Ni, Shinozaki spots a book with a title along the lines of How to Seduce an Otaku Girl If You're a Girl Yourself—and buys it immediately, because her love for her female otaku friend Kaede is just as deep as her denial of it.
  • February 14, 2016
    DAN004
    Merge with extreme prejudice. And happiness.
  • February 15, 2016
    69BookWorM69
    I don't know if these would count, exactly, but this sort of thing does come up in Murdoch Mysteries from time to time, partly because the title character has a small selection of books in his office, and partly because he's depicted at times having a constable bring him relevant books. It's less a joke and more a characteristic part of him. For example in "The Glass Ceiling", after the coroner Dr. Ogden gives him insect pupae she found in the wounds of a corpse, there's an open book on his desk showing insects and pupae as he's making a phone call. It turns out he orders more such pupae and times their development, discovering an odd discrepancy that points to the corpse having been in cold storage, obscuring the true date of death.
  • March 4, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump because some ignorant tries revive a similar one
  • August 19, 2016
    allnaturaltrans4
    bump
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xvzkf1i6x1spjqu0h8ma7g79