1,411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harkin
|1,411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harkin|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: 'The red one' – although mice cannot see red light – in new, paperback form.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: May 2016|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Handsome is as handsome does. And you know what else benefits from being curt and succinct, alongside old housewives' saws like that one? Trivia. I always thought the QI books such as this one to be handsome things – perfectly presenting trivia, four (on rare occasion, three) statements to the page, in a very nice little cubical hardback. Now they're being represented in paperback, but you know what? They're still handsome things.
This being the third book (in what the old mucker of one of the authors might have now called a trilogy of four) it's not had quite as much chance of being made out-of-date as the earlier two, but the time span of the correctness of the contents is the subject of the introduction. The makers of these books are not daft, after all. What they can do is deftly create a pattern of factoids down the page that contrive to link from one random-seeming subject to another, which surely would raise a smile for the average fan of trivia. Here's the warp and weft of just one page, in full:- During his lifetime Lewis Carroll wrote 98,721 letters. Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis signed off letters to each other with the word 'bum'. Chimpanzees can identify each other by looking at photographs of their bottoms. People can recognise each other 90% of the time just from the way they walk. Never has the journey from to A to B made B become such a surprise.
There is another old wives' adage about reading a whole trivia book in one bulk lot, and indeed they are best served in many small doses. The fact I've read three in a week means I have been made aware of repetitions – this book is the second one to tell me about the US and Somalia not signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the scientific name for ice-cream brain-freeze. But that's hardly worth moaning about too much – the fact there are 1,411 facts here – and at least one featuring the spurious-seeming title number – is more than enough. You do again get the partner website to use with the sources printed instead of the book's contents, making this more reliable and much less contentious than it would at first appear. Half of all tweets are pointless babble is not trivia (it's what any housewife would tell you is actually an under-estimation) but this book is neither pointless nor babble.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You can start back at the beginning here.
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