These days, if you are interested in learning a new skill or taking up a hobby, there is no shortage of information available about it online. No matter how obscure, you can be sure that there will be at least a couple of instructional videos along with a compilation of videos depicting people failing in humorous ways. However, back before the internet it wasn’t as easy to find information as your only sources would be either books or talking to an expert. Many of these books are still around and the digital versions can be read for free. While the information that they contain may be somewhat outdated or no longer relevant, the books can still make for fascinating reading. So, if you would like to learn some unusual skills or simply find out what people of yesteryear tried to teach themselves, then the following ten books could provide some great insights.
by P. R. Kincaid
Depending on how many wild and vicious horses are roaming around your neck of the woods, this 1856 book by P. R. Kincaid might come in handy. Even if these types of horses are in short supply where you live, the book also contains plenty of interesting tales about horses and their owners to make it a worthwhile read. For example, one of the stories in the book is about a man named Jabal, who owned a horse coveted by all. When a thief made off with the horse in the middle of the night, Jabal set off in hot pursuit on another mare. However, upon almost catching up with the stolen mare, Jabal shouted the “secret sign” to make the horse go faster to the thief, who made use of it to speed away. The reason for this is that Jabal didn’t want the reputation of his horse sullied by catching up to her with a lesser mare and would rather have her stolen than let it be said that she ever met her match!
by John Lyde Wilson
This 1838 book by John Lyde Wilson is also known as Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Duelling. The author was actually a governor of South Carolina and a firm believer in the merits of dueling. In fact, according to Wilson “It will be persisted in as long as a manly independence, and a lofty personal pride in all that dignifies and ennobles the human character, shall continue to exist.” In his defense, Wilson was convinced that if people read his guidelines for duelists, it would actually save lives instead of causing more bloodshed. Fortunately, duels are frowned upon these days, but this is still an interesting read for anyone fascinated with how this practice was actually implemented.
by Melvin Powers
Have you ever wondered if hypnosis is the answer to your problems? Maybe you would like to know how self-hypnosis works or what the dangers are of hypnosis. If so, this 1961 book by Melvin Powers claims to be written in terms that are comprehensible to the layman. It also contains an entire chapter about the practical applications of self-hypnosis, in case you are not sure what to do with your newfound skill. The author describes self-hypnosis as “positive, dynamic and constructive” and recommends the entire field of self-hypnosis to everyone.
by John Ready Lockard
With dwindling bee populations in North America, the act of bee hunting might sound rather cruel and inhumane to those not familiar with the term. However, this book was published in 1908, which means bees were probably more numerous than now. The book still contains plenty of great tales and advice and, as long as you refrain from harming the bees and stealing their honey, could still make for an interesting experience. Depending on where you live, the methods described by the author for tracking down wild bees might not be so easy anymore, but there is no harm in trying. Unless you are allergic to bees of course, then it is probably better to try one of the other books on this list.
by Albert B. Farnham
If you’ve ever looked at an animal, bird, reptile or fish and thought that it would look nice mounted on your wall, then this is the book for you. However, bear in mind that this book was published in 1944, so before you attempt to try out your new skills on something, it is probably best to brush up on recent laws regarding taxidermy. Even if you are in no rush to turn any critters into home or office decorations, this book still has interesting information about the history of taxidermy. However, it would probably also be wise to not attempt some of the stuff in this book, such as “FUR ROBES AND HOW TO MAKE THEM” from chapter 13.