Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Best of the Bathroom

Since starting here I have become way too familiar with two very unremarkable books: What Would Jackie Do? and More Word Histories and Mysteries (I'm not even going to bother putting links). Why, if so unremarkable, do I have such familiarity? Well, dear reader, it is because galleys of them have been in our not-for-public-use bathroom since at least New Years, if not last year's Rosh Ha'Shana.

It was time for something new. But you know what? Finding a good quality bathroom read is a lot harder to come by than I thought it would be. And then a couple months ago it was like the clouds parted and the sun shining through with the arrival of a galley of The Book of General Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, which was just published last week.

It's all you want it to be in bathroom reading: a concise question-and-answer format that provides a quick-yet-satisfying read and allows the reader to open the book to any particular page. The questions are humorous (What was odd about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Did cannibals cook their victims whole in large pots? What's the best floor of a building to throw a cat from?) or have unexpected answers (Who is America named after? Not Amerigo Vespucci. Where does chicken tikka masala come from? Glasgow. And, most fittingly, What do we have Thomas Crapper to thank for? Not the flush toilet!).

As a testament to its quality, the galley of The Book of General Ignorance was taken less than a week after I left it in the bathroom. I was really quite peeved (dare I say I was pissed off?) however posting a note requesting the anonymous bookseller to return the galley was unsuccessful. So now we're back to Jackie O. and poorly written etymology. Sigh.

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