"Complete Idiot's Guide to Mortgages." "Complete MBA For Dummies." When I saw the titles of those new volumes at the "Complete Idiot's" and "For Dummies" Web sites, suddenly it became clearer why we have problems in this country with housing foreclosures and business failures.

"Complete Idiot's Guide to Mortgages." "Complete MBA For Dummies."

When I saw the titles of those new volumes at the "Complete Idiot's" and "For Dummies" Web sites, suddenly it became clearer why we have problems in this country with housing foreclosures and business failures.

A lot of us, apparently, are not that bright about finances. Nor do we want to know about money. Which might explain why we instead spend it on books like "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo."

As I begin another attempt to better understand life merely by scanning the titles of new simplistic instructional guides, I need to note that I read a lot of these books. I humbly admit my ignorance and take steps to increase my knowledge about a variety of subjects by borrowing "For Dummies" and "Complete Idiot's" books from the library, then leaving them on the coffee table until they are overdue.

My personal choices

At the moment, I am sort of skimming both the "Dummies" and the "Complete Idiot's" versions of instructions for a computer spreadsheet program. Some might say that makes me twice as stupid as the average computer illiterate.

So, you can see how I would naturally be drawn to the "advanced computing" section of the "Dummies" online catalog. There I saw the title for a new edition of "HTML, XHTML & CSS For Dummies." I wouldn't have known enough to ask for that one, much less understand the instruction. It's depressing to realize that you need something even more simple than a book for "Dummies."

Which is probably why I'm also reading something called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World."

Helpful volumes

Other dummies and idiots are setting their educational standard a bit higher.

I saw a "Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Arabic" and a "Japanese For Dummies." There were "Complete Idiot's" guides to both global warming and global economics. I saw "Dummies" books about biochemistry and pre-calculus.

These are not summer beach reads.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Picture Puzzles" or "BBQ Sauces, Rubs & Marinades For Dummies" — now those are books you can take to the water. You might even be able to cart along "Complete Idiot's Guide to Sextrology," if you can hide it in a blanket. Should the books get a little wet or all sandy, it won't matter. You're probably not going to try to return them as you might "Business Math For Dummies" or "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Physics" once you get halfway into them.

One other quick observation: In one online listing, "Frugal Living For
Dummies" follows "Divorce For Dummies, 2nd Edition." It could be a coincidence.

Reach Repository Living Section Editor Gary Brown at (330) 580-8303 or e-mail gary.brown@cantonrep.com