Only you know how misunderstood you are, villain. Not to mention alone. No one lifts a finger to help you be a worse you, because no one understands. No one but other villains, that is. However, it’s a catch 22, because obviously you can’t trust your fellow villains any more than you can trust anyone else – so what do you do?
Start a villains’ book club.
In a book club, all you have to trust others to do is read the assigned book and show up with some damn dessert when it’s their turn to do so.
So here is a book list for your villains’ book club. We hope you will do the club thing, because, believe it or not, we here at Dwarf+Giant and the entire gang at The Last Bookstore love you, you evil bastard. From a distance.
Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power is a colander holding all the biggest chunks of wisdom in the ancient art of control. This is a central component of your modus operandi, because if you aren’t hell-bent on controlling… umm, everything – then you are probably not a villain. From Sun Tzu to Henry Kissinger – here’s your bathroom reading: yes, a guidebook from the porcelain throne to the Iron Throne. While all those do-gooding wussy-mamas are reading Proverbs and the Analects and Pensées, you’ll be ingesting beauties like “Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit” (law 7) and “Do not commit to anyone” (law 20). You are well on your way to being an evil fuck.
The classic of the genre is, of course Machiavelli’s The Prince, and it’s never a bad idea to dig back into those fundamentals. Plus, along the lines of “Conceal your intentions” (law 3), reading a classic like this doesn’t tip your hand as much as reading books with the word “power” on the cover: perhaps you are just a student or maybe an Italo-phile – who knows? Admit nothing. Not even to the other assholes in your book club.
Further along this road of concealing intent while still developing your power-grabbing technique is the Book of Sith from the Star Wars handbook collection. On the surface, you will appear as a mere dork, a fanboy with delusions of wickedness, but this book is quite inspirational and seeded with nuggets of wisdom. You really need to learn how to embrace the darkness. (Ignore all the “notes” from Luke Skypansy and his little Jedi smurf buddies.) Perhaps your club could have a villains’ cosplay night? Make fun of anyone who isn’t as physically fit as the character they are portraying. Just cuz.
If you are a real villain, you are that way because of something someone else did. Though you are – in a sense – thankful to the loser(s) who made you this way – it is, after all, the only way to be – this doesn’t relieve you of the need for revenge. Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: The Big Book of Revenge from George Hayduke is billed as a “humor book”- yes, genius – rule 3, again. It is, in fact, a totally legitimate list of over 200 ways to exact your completely justifiable need for evening the score with whomever. Some are illegal, so don’t get caught. Better: try to frame someone in your book club.
You are a criminal. The law and the so-called “good guys” are after you. How to Be Invisible from JJ Luna will help you keep your fecund criminality on the DL. No thanks to the damn internet, pretty much every person on the planet is connected (gross). With the techniques in this book, you will learn how to keep your identity, internet activity, “business” dealings, purchases, your beautiful filthy stinking money, etc., out of sight of meddlers who should be minding their own biz. It is essential groundwork for all of your operations.
You need a place from which to stage your masterful plan. How to Be Invisible will only take you so far. It’s tough to find books that specifically deal with building a villain’s secret lair. You will definitely have to watch a lot of Bond films and take notes. (A Bond film night would be a great book club activity, to break up the monotony of having to listen to other people’s dumb opinions on the books.) Kageyama Yuki’s Secret Hideouts for Grown Ups will give you a starting point. Learn Japanese first, OR better still – make someone else learn Japanese and then make them translate the book for you. Then “take care of them” so they have no knowledge of which hideout you build for yourself.
Also on that note, a clever way to “Conceal your intentions” while developing your ideas is to build everything… in Minecraft. That’s right: you can appear as just some creative goofball obsessively designing wacky Star Wars buildings or “an idea for a mobile game” or a surprise for your niece. Meanwhile, you are cheaply blue-skying your entire secret base from however far below the surface of the earth to however high and/or sprawling you want. Stephanie Milton’s Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection will put every tool at your disposal. Don’t wing the Minecraft; your headquarters should be able to endure a lot of vigorous use and punishment. When you have developed your ideas into the ideal form, you can peel that Mission Impossible “Tom Cruise” mask of innocence right off, and just build it for real, which should be easy once you’ve found the right volcano and enough plutonium. Again, great group activity, and good time to practice your manipulation skills: see if you can get the club to use only your ideas for the secret base.
Fashion. The best way to deceive people is through how you look. Sheeple just can’t help but judge by appearances; it’s sad, really, and why they all deserve to be dominated by you. Of course, you can dress any way you want: you can wear spiky leather bits or a black cape or maybe have some sort of barbarian look – but I want to suggest that all these options are inferior to the simple tactic of dressing well. Yes, you can still wear black. For the men, take a look at Gentleman: The Ultimate Companion to the Elegant Man by Bernard Rotzel. (Note: you do not have to be a gentleman in your heart, but you should cultivate the outer shell of a gentleman.) This handy guide will cover everything including the hat, the beard, the overcoat, the underpants – and much more, including a variety of accessories and hygiene products. (Don’t worry about wearing hygiene products to your book club meeting; fuck’em.)
And for the villainesses, the situation is a little bit different. Of course, you can dress up – way up – if you want to. However, as soon as you display any power, the broad sexism of the world will suddenly appear as an invisible wall, with impossible expectations, and panicked males will get in your way for no good reason. The trick, then, is to dress under – that is, to appear cute and pliable. This stupidly obvious tactic will blind them to your superiority and allow you to work your evil plans at will. The bottom line is to be a chameleon, and use the sexism of the so-called good guys against them. Once you are in charge of the planet you can switch over to the sweatpants or chainmail pantsuit or whatever the hell you want. Alison Freer’s How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes, Look, Fit and Feel Amazing will give you a kind of flexibility for dressing up or under, and a whole catalogue of how to appear as a fun, stylish, “together”-type. Yuck. It’s okay: suffer now, crush everyone beneath your heels later.
Hey – have a dress up night with honest critiques. (Of course, don’t be honest. Use the opportunity to practice humiliating people.)
You and your fellow book clubbing villains may already be advanced in your villainy. These books may be a bit passé for you. Well, how about spicing up your club’s reading list with some fiction? Here are some well-curated suggestions from Book List. You will find in these titles the greatest villains of literature, heroes you already look up to, and inspiring new ones, like the asshole that shot Bambi’s mom. You will find both guidance and inspiration in fashioning your personal style of evil fuckery.
Now, get that book group formed, and on the last night of your meetings, don’t forget to “take care” of the rest of the group. They will have served their purpose, and comradery is not for villains.