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You may have heard about my latest book – my fifth – titled “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia.”
I didn’t start out to write a “trivia” book. To tell you the truth (a reckless practice us storytellers should avoid). I can’t remember, at this point, what kind of book I set out to write. But as Robert Frost says in “The road not taken,” we’re always coming upon roads that diverge in the woods. And, here in Maine, when we come to a fork in the road, we take it.
When I started collecting Maine trivia, the working title for the book was: “Useless information; a user’s guide.” But my publisher said: “John, how are we going to get people to shell out good money for a book with the word “useless” printed right there on the cover as bold as brass?”
What could I say?
Over the years I’ve thought of making a fortune writing either a cookbook or a diet book. These books are known in the book business as big money makers. Year-after-year some of the most popular books on the market are one of the two - cookbooks or diet books. One will give you dozens of ways to fatten you up. The other will provide clever ways to slim you down. It’s a perfect setup for publishers because they keep you going in circles – up-and-down - and it doesn’t end until you croak.
Before you croak, of course, there are all kinds of books you can buy on “putting your affairs in order.” There are even books with instructions on planning your own funeral, complete with how-to advice on writing your own glowing obit and profound eulogy.
Some authors set out to write the ultimate “self-improvement book” - always a popular subject on bookstore shelves. Everyone can use a little improvement, right? Some can use a lot, just look around. And with all the millions and millions of self-improvement books sold, wouldn’t you think people would appear to be a little more improved than they are? That might be a subject for a future book.
Books on quick and easy ways to get filthy rich quickly are always popular. “How I went from living on a park bench to living at the Park Plaza,” is a typical title. I thought about writing a get rich quick book. Then I wondered how it would look to prospective book buyers if I showed up at a big book signing in my Subaru Outback. Not that I’m embarrassed by my Subaru – I’m not. It’s a great car for Maine. But it’s not the kind of car you’d expect a “Get rich quick” expert to pull up in.
After some consideration I decided to leave all those subjects for another time.
I decided to write “John McDonald’s Maine Trivia,” the book that is now available in fine bookstores throughout Maine, because, if used properly, I think my book will help you lose weight, become a better person, make a lot of money, put your affairs in order and plan your funeral.
Oh, and knowing its contents will also make you appear smarter than you really are. It should raise your Maine IQ by at least 20 points.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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