1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, James Harkin and Anne Miller
|1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, James Harkin and Anne Miller|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: One more entrant in the best series of trivia books, with unusual statements about the world distilled to their essence and presented in oddly linked fashion.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: November 2016|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
I love the way the QI elves play games with us with these books. That's not to say it's a game of pulling the wool over our eyes, for every entrant in this series has had the equivalent online version for the sources, so every page is replicated with the due links you need to search for proof of their statements. No, the game is Six Degrees of Separation. And they're so good at it, they can do most things in three. So in just three standalone, but thematically linked, phrases, you can get from how to make the sound of an Orc army for Lord of the Rings films to record-breaking nipple hair. From illicit wartime barbers in Italy to American founding father bedroom arrangements, is only three steps – and the path carries on to reach that erstwhile novice stand-up, Ronald Reagan, in two more. It's only two jumps between Donald Trump and Charles Darwin, disconcertingly.
And some of these one-off sentences are world-class conversation openers (which makes it really annoying for us review readers, as the source website is seldom live when I'm perusing these books). Here you learn that sabre-toothed tigers never existed, and that our Queen owns a drive-thru McDonalds, in Slough. Sometimes you definitely need more context than the blunt contents allow us – here it's alleged you are not allowed to travel in a lift with liquid nitrogen – whereabouts? It won't be worldwide statute. Belgium is the world's leading exporter of billiard balls. Invading Romans found local youths in the UK uncouth, for having too many tattoos – has nothing changed?! Tanks are exempt from London's congestion charge.
People who know these books – and there are many, for they do sell, and you don't have to produce Radio Two afternoon shows to make use of them – know what to expect, a sterling, readable, hard-to-ration collection of data. And nothing much has changed this time round, either. No, this time there is not a full page of trivia to justify the choice of the title number – you'll have to see inside to find out just what there is regarding it – but this is just as good and just as commendable as any other entrant to the series. And on Radio Two himself, John Lloyd (one of the head QI honchos – great name, by the way) seemed to imply there's a further book planned, making six in all. Trivia is too serious for me to not be there in the queue for it.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The American Presidents in 100 Facts by Jem Duducu is one example of how the smallest details about the biggest subjects leaves the status of 'trivia' behind.
This book featured in the November 2016 Newsletter
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Chris Graham said:
Greetings folks! Sorry to be a nuisance, and it’s’ of course too late to do anything about the couple of glitches I spotted in my 2016 edition (ISBN 978-0-571-33246-5).
On page 74, you state that the first Nando’s in London opened in 1696! I don’t know if you were trying for numerical alliteration from the 2 preceding entries, but it’s wrong. The firsts Nando’ s EVER was opened in Johannesburg in 1996, and the first UK one in 2002, not in London; it was in London but not successful until the SAfricans took back the franchise. This info comes from their website, and I note it has already been remarked upon.
This one is a bit pedantic but. . . On p134 it states that Victorian gentry ordered their horses to be shot after their deaths. Why bother to shoot the horses: the way the sentence reads they were already dead!! This is just one of the quirks that makes the English language so tough for computers to understand – like “I drove down the High Street in my car”. I don’t HAVE a High street in my car! I believe IBM has made some progress in this respect with the Watson computer, which won the Jeopardy quiz show on American TV against the previous champions who each took away over $1-million each.
Not an error, but a comment. On p143 it says (probably correctly) that 75% of the world’s population has no postal (ie delivery)address. There’s a company and a website that has fixed that, but it still awaits widespread adoption by the world authorities. It’s called what3words - spelled exactly like that. It’s well worth looking into! My address appears below, and if you key it in you can get a look at a photo of my driveway gate and the house behind it! Chris Graham 23 Charter Road, Kelland, Randburg South Africa 2194