Additional Books written by Stefan Bechtel
Stefan Bechtel has written and had published 12 books during his career as a writer in the creative nonfiction and nonfiction literary genres. Below you can find books which may be out of print but available from used bookstores and often can be found on amazon. We encourage you to collect these books from this author, to enjoy reading them, and to participate in our readership community through discussing these books with other readers and asking questions of the the author, himself.
The Good Luck Book
Workman, 1997, with Laurence Roy Stains; ISBN 0-7611-0541-7. Foreign-language editions in Finnish, Bulgarian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese and Italian. 84,000 copies in print.
Larry and I pitched this amusing trifle of a book (with illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist R.O. Blechman) as “a lucky charm that you can read.” In truth, this whole project got started when I casually remarked to my son one day, “I’m so lucky I practically wrote the book of luck!” and he said, “Hmmm… maybe that’s your next project.”
Lucky me: I got to spend nine months digging around in libraries finding out about the history of luck, luckiness and lucky charms from cultures across the globe. Workman designed the result as a so-called “chunky book” — a cute little box-like object that fits pleasingly into one’s palm (touchable objects like bits of jade being among the most ancient of charms).
The book is filled with a crazy collection of quotes, stories, anecdotes, parables, tips, customs and rumors about good luck and how to get it. What to do to bring good luck to a new house. Why we “knock on wood.” And what’s the deal with wishbones, shamrocks, horseshoes and rabbit’s feet? Sharing some of the finest, funniest, and truest things ever said about luck, this book inspires even the unluckiest person to persevere. 84,000 copies in print.
Review on Amazon: “A lovely little book filled with occasionally funny, occasionally sweet, always fascinating tidbits of folklore. Each story or one-liner about various methods of finding good luck is insight into another time or culture. A light-hearted collection of good luck charms from around the world. Everyone can use a little luck, and this book gives you plenty of options for finding what works for you — or at least making you smile.”
Getting Off On The Right Foot
“There’s a very old idea that the right side of anything is associated with good luck and the left side, with bad. The Romans feared that someone who entered a palace with the left foot first would bring in bad luck. In public places, guards were stationed at the entrance to make sure every visitor got off on the right foot. And noble families employed ‘footmen’ for the same reason. A person who stands by the door of a fancy hotel is still called a footman because of this ancient luck custom.”
Growing a Fortune
Twelve Investing Secrets I Learned In My Garden
I was puttering in my garden sometime during the great stock market boom of the late 1990s when it occurred to me that my great success in investing was very related to habits of mind I’d learned in my garden — thinking long-term, planting perennials instead of annuals, learning to plant a seed and then to wait calmly until harvest.
So, as is my habit, I wrote a little book about this, distilling what I’d learned as a gardener-investor into twelve simple principles. (Having notched up returns in excess of a thousand percent over five years, I felt I had the right!)
I have to admit, this little book did not sell terribly well, perhaps because I’m not famous like Peter Lynch, and perhaps because it came out at the gloomiest moment of the stock-market collapse of the early 2000s. But the book is still filled with sound, time-tested advice that’s continued to help me grow my fortune through rain, shine, drought, pestilence and onslaughts of Japanese beetles.
“If somebody had $100 to spend on a garden, I would probably tell them to spend $60 to $70 in good soil preparation and the rest in plants,” says Andre Viette, the jolly king of gardeners and one of the biggest growers of perennials on the East Coast. “I would much rather a person buy less plants from me and put them in soil that looks like chocolate pudding. When plants go into soil like that they’ll say, ‘Yeah, oh boy, I love this!’”
Good soil, Andre says, “smells fresh and alive.” With the right soil, you can practically get an axe handle to grow leaves. He chuckles and rubs his hands together, thinking about the beauty and power of that kind of soil.
Andre’s advice is a great way to help your vegetables and flowers thrive — and it’s a good way to make your portfolio grow. Because as a general thing, you should spend vastly more time “preparing the soil” and “selecting a viable seed” — studying and then selecting your investments — than in tending to them. Andre’s precentages sound about right: 60 to 70 percent of the time you spend on your investments, perhaps even more, should be spent doing the research necessary to pick good investments in the first place. After that, you don’t need to do much except weed and water. (That is, just follow their progress in the papers and make sure their story hasn’t changed).
Nothing will ever grow without properly preparing the soil, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever make a spectacular investment without thoroughly researching it first. Take it easy. Take your time. What’s the rush? As a Wall Street wag once remarked, “buy in haste, repent at leisure…”
Roar of the Heavens
When Hurricane Camille roared ashore on the Mississippi Gulf Coast near midnight on August 17, 1969, she was a storm of superlatives, a cavalcade of terrible wonders. Her sustained winds were clocked at an astounding 200 miles an — far more violent than Katrina (whose sustained winds measured about 125 mph at landfall). Camille brought with her a storm surge over 24 feet high — a wall of water almost three stories high — the highest ever recorded in the U.S. at that time. And her barometric pressure, one of the most reliable measures of hurricane intensity, was also in record-breaking territory. Camille was, in fact, the most intense hurricane ever to make landfall in the mainland of the United States . In Mississippi, she obliterated whole towns and swept over 170 people to their deaths.
“Over the years, Hurricane Camille’s legend grew, and it was not uncommon when I was a child and student in Mississippi to hear horrific tales from coast residents who had survived it,” best-selling author John Grisham wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times in September 2005. “For almost 40 years, it was a well-established belief that… there simply could never be another storm like Hurricane Camille.”
But Camille had an even more terrifying “second act” in store. Two days later, on August 19, 1969 — once again, in the middle of the night, but this time completely without warning — Camille triggered another record-breaking meteorological event. In the mountains of rural Virginia, she collided with a complex weather system and so touched off one of the greatest overnight rainfalls ever recorded — over 30 inches in eight hours. Whole mountainsides collapsed, burying people alive. Tiny rivulets became roaring torrents. People had to cover their mouths even to breathe. And 150 more people met their deaths, most in total innocence, some asleep in their beds.
“Roar Of The Heavens” tells this astounding story in a compelling, novelistic fashion, following of handful of people through the great storm and its aftermath. In the process, the book also elegantly explains the science of hurricanes (with the help of a NASA meteorologist). And it discovers stories of heroism, faith and foolishness while painting a portrait of a sweet, fleeting moment in American history. Back in 1969, gasoline was 35 cents a gallon, color TV was still considered a passing fad, the Vietnam War was raging, and by some odd stroke of fate, the great rock festival at Woodstock occurred the very same weekend as Camille’s horrifying arrival on the Gulf Coast.
What Women Want
Rodale Press, 200, with Laurence Roy Stains; ISBN 1-57954-093-7.
This book had the good fortune to be published at almost precisely the same moment as the release of the Mel Gibson movie of the same title (though the only direct connection between the two projects is men’s humorous cluelessness about women). The basic premise of our book was this: Two male authors get 2,102 women (through surveys, online polls and personal interviews) to tell us what women want from men — as lovers, boyfriends, husbands, coparents and friends. Wow! Did they ever give us an earful! And this book lays it all out, in a comprehensive, candid, erotically revealing study of women, for all the men out there who remain mystified by that other two-legged species with whom they share their beds.
“What does she want from you, as the father of her children? What does she really appreciate? What makes her purr with pleasure? What drives her so nutty she’d like to wrap a diaper around your neck?
These are not idle questions — or easy ones, either. Raising young ‘uns alongside a good woman can be one of life’s most enduring pleasures. Or it can become so fraught with conflict that it drives the two of you into embittered exile from each other.
In this part of the book, we’ll enlist the help of women from across the United States, Canada, and the nearer galaxies to help us — and you — find some answers to these questions. Just to clarify our purpose here: This is not about how to raise your kids, discipline them, or ensure that they get into Princeton. That’s some other book (a very long one). What we’re interested in here is how you can maintain a rich, rewarding union while also raising kids…”
Sex: A Man's Guide
Rodale Press, 1996, with Laurence Roy Stains; ISBN 0-87596-299-8. This book was also published in paperback by Berkley Books, a division of Penguin-Putnam (ISBN 0-425-16580-9), and in Italian.
This all-time favorite male guidebook has also sold nearly a million copies and it’s still selling. Based on interviews with sex therapists and researchers, as well as surveys, interviews and stories from over 2,500 men, many of them subscribers to Men’s Health magazine.
“The old dark male idea that marriage is actually a female plot to enslave men economically in exchange for sex will probably never die. We wonder whether monogamy is not just some social invention for somebody else’s benefit. Whether it’s even really natural (at least for men). And in a society where the divorce rate and the marriage rate are always teetering in rough balance, it’s easy to be skeptical of the notion that marriage works at all.
Not so long ago, the word we got from anthropologists and zoologists was that monogamous pair-bonds were common among animals, especially birds, like geese and swans, suggesting that it was also natural for us. Zoologist Desmond Morris argued in his 1967 book The Naked Ape that the whole point of human sexuality was “to strengthen the pair-bond and maintain the family unit.” But more recently, reports from the scientific front haven’t been quite so encouraging. It turns out that lots of birds fool around (at least 40 percent of indigo buntings get a little on the side, researchers report). And anthropologists have found that nearly 1,000 of the 1,154 past and present human societies ever studied have allowed men to have more than one wife….”
The Practical Encyclopedia of Sex and Health
Rodale Press, 1993, ISBN 0-671-74324-4. Also published as “The Sex Encyclopedia” (Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1993; ISBN 0-671-743244) Foreign-language editions in Chinese and Polish. Listed in a bibliography of authoritative sex guides in Encyclopedia Britannica.
A light-hearted, non-technical, non-kinky, A-to-Z guide to all things sexual — from aphrodisiacs and hormones, to potency, stress, vasectomy and yeast infections. This international best-seller, with nearly a million copies in print, is soon to be updated and reissued.
“Kissing is a kind of touch that has as much range as a big-city orchestra. It can be a perfunctory peck on the cheek, so asexual that balding Communist Party apparatchiks aren’t ashamed to do it on TV, or it can be so explosively erotic it’s about as close to intercourse as you can get. French kissing (what’s sometimes called “soul kissing”), in which one’s tongue deeply penetrates a lover’s mouth, is an almost perfect mimic of intercourse itself. In fact, the late Dr. Alfred Kinsey reported, a few women become so aroused by French kissing that they’re able to climax without any genital stimulation at all…”
Katherine, It's Time:
The Incredible Journey into the World of a Multiple Personality
HarperCollins 1989, with Kit Castle; ISBN 0-06-015926-X. Published in paperback by Avon Books (1989, reissued in 1990; ISBN 0-380-71198-2) Optioned, twice, by movie production companies.
A “nonfiction novel” which tells the story of an extraordinary multiple personality case. Due to horrific childhood abuse, Kit Castle split into seven personalities, which were eventually integrated through intense therapy with a brilliant, charismatic psychiatrist. The book, which touches upon the truly spooky occult aspects of MPD, is required reading in several college psychology courses.
Publishers Weekly described the book this way: “Sexually abused as a child by her sadistic father, Elizabeth Katherine Castle fissured into multiple personalities — seven or eight in all, according to this dizzying profile. As mousy ‘Liz,’ living in Texas, she married, nearly ax-murdered her three children and got evicted from her apartment. Then, as ‘Kitty,’ she began pulling in $800 a week as a stripper. As vivacious, artistic ‘Penny Lavender,’ she took the second of three husbands, but her life kept dividing among her warring selves. These included ‘Me-Liz,’ a spiritual do-gooder; ‘Jess,’ a teenage boy with a crush on Kitty; two infant egos; and ‘Michael,’ an ‘inner helper’ who facilitated the integration of her fractured psyche.
This strange case involves psychic phenomena: beings of light, poltergeist-like activity, and Michael himself, who, it is argued, might have been an otherworldly spirit-guide. Bechtel, a journalist who conducted interviews with Castle, re-creates her journey through hell, interweaving the testimonies of friends and loved ones.”
Part One: The Dark Light
“In the fading late afternoon light, the old Dodge nosed eastward through the crush of afternoon traffic out of downtown Dallas. Faceless interchanges drifted past. Through the bug-pocked windshield, Kitty watched the golden light wince off green expressway signs drifting by overhead: 635 South, Sunnyvale, Next Exit. Garland, Buckingham, 78 East. Cotton Bowl Parking, Keep Right. None of it meant a thing. She had no idea where she was going — just away. Away was the best she could do for now. But it was a miracle that she was even breathing, after that fiasco! She was only two hours old, but already she was in full flight from the past…”