We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Much of The Action Heroine’s Handbook reads like a guide to dating. Written by Jennifer Worick and Joe Borgenicht (Borgenicht also co-authored The Action Hero’s Handbook), the handbook unashamedly schools women on how to “Own the Dance Floor,” “Hook a Millionaire,” and “Turn Your Man Into a Sex Pawn” (and, for those really bad dates, how to “Outwit a Sasquatch”). Actually, though, this compact volume is a survival guide that should appeal to pop-culture junkies—should they ever find themselves off the couch and in a fix. Each skill is either taken from a screen scene that’s likely already burned into a fangirl’s mind (such as Catherine Zeta Jones’ undulating laser-beam crawl in Entrapment) or paired with a quote from a TV show or movie that best exemplifies it. (“How to Keep Your Cool Under Interrogation,” for example, quotes Basic Instinct.) Women of the world may never find the need to use a panty liner as a bandage (or, for displaced divas, as a sleep mask), but it couldn’t hurt to know how, could it? Despite the humor throughout—such as the authors’ resolutely deadpan use of the term “action heroine”—the Heroine’s Handbook takes itself surprisingly seriously, culling advice from experts ranging from stuntwomen to investigators and translating their knowledge into easy steps and helpful illustrations. The chapter titled “Beauty Skills” may be only a less breathless rehashing of this month’s Cosmo, but others, such as “Brain Skills” or “Escape Skills,” with their legitimate solutions to such crises as how to break free when kidnapped or “fend off a sexually harassing trucker,” are more sobering reads. There is, however, the occasional potential for confusion: For instance, there’s no clarification as to how a workaday action heroine can accurately distinguish the “undead”—they’re said to be either “pale and lean” or “puffed and bloated,” as well as “foul smelling,” “wearing stained clothing,” and “staring severely for extended periods of time”—from, say, people around the office. —Tricia Olszewski