How Awkward!

C’mon, admit it: you live for awkward moments. Maybe not in your own life, sure. But we all know that sometimes others’ social misfortunes can be comedy gold. Here are some books full of cringe-worthy moments of awesome awkwardness.

F in Exams by Richard Benson is quite simply a compilation of horribly wrong answers real students have used on tests. Absurd (the Berlin Wall was created because Germany was competing with China), misinformed (Abraham Lincoln’s greatest achievement was having his face carved out of rock), and just plain wrong (What did Mahatma Ghandi and Genghis Khan have in common? Unusual names).

I have to wonder if these students, after getting back their wrong answers, realized how off-the-wall they sounded and, if so, could they ever face their teacher/professor again? I was feeling pretty smug until I got to the end of the book and read something I’m pretty sure I wrote in Mrs. Votoupal’s Advanced Placement Literature class: How does Romeo’s character develop throughout the play? It doesn’t; it’s just self, self, self all the way through. Sorry, Mrs. V.

Dealbreaker by Dave Horwitz and Marisa Pinson examines just where we all go wrong in our dating lives. The authors call attention to all our dating sins, from talking through movies to flirting with other people. If you’re worried you won’t find any kind words in this tome, however, think again.

Each chapter of Dealbreaker contains a special section called Dealmakers. Dealmakers include such things as making delicious pancakes and having an awesome bed. This book has the dubious honor of being the least awkward in my list, simply by having a few nice things to say. I have high standards, dear reader:

So maybe that’s the moral of this whole thing: hang in there, kittens. We have all these dealbreakers because we’re picky, and we’re picky because we want to believe that the perfect person is out there, waiting to knock down our door and present themselves to us, perfect smile and all (but not before rebuilding our door). It’s this hope that keeps us going, and this secret cockiness that keeps us from settling on someone who’s okay but not a perfect match.


Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack is based on the popular blog of the same name. Words can’t easily describe this photo-packed book. Just flipping through the pages I can guarantee you’ll laugh and maybe even relate a little to these ridiculous images. And to play fair, there are awkward photos of the authors at the end. Very similar is Awkward Family Pet Photos by the same authors, featuring people and pets and the awkward joys of animal companionship.

Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello has been mentioned before in this blog. But no one really went into detail about the complete and utter awkwardness that practically oozes from the pages. You can actually follow the directions for these projects…but then you would become a walking awkward moment. If you’re not that brave or not that comfortable in your irony, you can at least check out this book and gaze in wonder at all of the hideously awkward photos the authors have painstakingly shot for the sake of their craft.

If, unlike me, you truly cringe at awkwardness and would rather avoid it as much as possible, there are books for you as well. Why not try these titles to proactively battle awkwardness before it can creep up on you.


As a Lady Would Say by Sheryl Shade and As a Gentleman Would Say by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis provide “responses to life’s important (and sometimes awkward) situations.”

Miss Manners’ Basic Training: the Right Thing to Say by Judith Martin also covers conversations that can turn nasty and explains how you can “talk, talk back and say ‘no’ without causing offense, and how to apologize when you do anyway.”

Perfect Phrases for Dealing with Difficult Situations at Work by Susan F. Benjamin includes “hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for coming out on top even in the toughest office conditions.”

Damage Control by David Eddie and Pat Lynch shows you “how to tiptoe away from the smoking wreckage of your latest screw-up with a minimum of harm to your reputation.” It’s also packed with embarrassing personal stories from Mr. Eddie’s life and may help him seem less preachy and more relatable.

We’re human. We make mistakes. And sometimes you’ve just got to laugh.


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