The Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham and The Useless Information Society *****

As someone with admittedly quirky tastes I love this book. It is a strange compendium of facts that no one really cares about or would be useful in your daily life, (heck, the material probably wouldn’t even be useful on Jeopardy!) but are still incredibly interesting. Facts like we don’t know what Einstein’s last words were because he spoke them in German to a nurse who didn’t know any German or that you’re more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a poisonous spider are strange but wonderful facts (not to mention that the last one was rather comforting since I am incredibly arachnophobic).

This book covers everyone from Constantine to Lincoln to Charles Manson and animals from whales to porcupines. If you want a fact that is strange and bizarre they have it. Talk about information that isn’t useful but sure is entertaining. This book challenges the reader to see the world in a new way or to simply laugh at the obscure knowledge that people feel the need to ferret out.

One thing that I do have to say is that while many of the facts are true about the people and animals this book is essentially for fun. If a student of mine wanted to use it as a source in a paper I would ask them to back up their info from another source because the authors even admit that many of the statistics were made up, this does not mean that their word definitions and medical or historical facts are not true however. So, while this is an entertaining source of random information and a good gateway into a topic one should double check one’s sources before using it in an academic paper. This is a book that encourages questions, something that I believe in strongly. This book started endless discussions amongst my family and my friends and is truly a remarkable read, not to mention an entertaining one.

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