Condensed Knowledge: mental-floss presents
Will Pearson, Mangesh Hattikudur & Elizabeth Hunt
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
he editors tell us that they initiated the mental-floss magazine as a '
bible for trivia addicts
', blurring the lines between education and entertainment. They offer the book as a buffet, which provides '
a heaping plateful of smart(aleck).
' My teen son certainly pounced on it and devoured the contents, before letting me near the book.
opic categories (15 in all) range from Art History to Religion, with stops along the way for the Sciences, Economics, History and Geography, Literature, Performing Arts, and Music, Psychology and Pop Culture - something for everyone, in fact. Here are a few that I found fun. '
Fake your way through a conversation
' provides phrases to drop at Art Openings, e.g. '
de gustibus non est disputandum
' (no, I won't translate it - do it yourself or read the book). We're told the difference between
, and so on. Condensed_Biology has a section for chocaholics like me (chocolate contains magnesium and phenols amongst other goodies). I'm not sure I really wanted to know about '
' in Condensed_Chemistry, but perhaps it will do for
conversation some day.
he Internet Bubble has joined the South Sea Bubble as yet another sad story in Condensed_Economics. I learned about the '
' test to ensure idiotproof software, and take exception to the name on my own Aunt Tillie's behalf. And I can live without knowing more about Einstein's pickled brain. If you want to get far away from it all, Condensed_Geography and Culture is full of remote destinations (Tuva intrigues me). I discovered the roots of '
' in Condensed_History, and '
Laws of Physics That Don't Apply in Hollywood
' is entertaining. In Condensed_Literature, I picked up a few phrases to drop into literary reviews, like '
', and I will definitely use the Tolkien quote, '
Never laugh at live dragons.
could go on and on, but suggest you dip into
at your own pace. I recommend it as a wonderful source for the occasional taste of erudite trivia ... with '
', of course!
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