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That Book... Of Perfectly Useless Information    by Mitchell Symons order for
That Book
by Mitchell Symons
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The inside flap recommends That Book for bedside or bathroom reading. I second that and also suggest dipping into it during a commute or in a doctor's office (it's great fun and the perfect distraction) or tucking it into someone's stocking these holidays.

It's stuffed with silly snippets of farcical facts, from the professions of celebrity parents (Faye Dunaway's dad was a U.S. Army Sergeant) to the weirdness of words (there's no rice in rice paper). Did you know that the human sneeze travels at 600 mph? That elephants can stand on their heads? That Captain Kirk never did say 'Beam me up, Sottie'? That The Scarlet Pimpernel was banned by the Nazis because Baronness Orczy was Jewish? Or that 'chionomaniacs' are obsessed with snow? You do now.

I liked the variations on Murphy's Law, but found the lists of people with different decade birthdays depressing! The last words of men about to be executed have their amusing moments. Celebrity names for pets (and kids) are wild and wonderful - I'm sure glad my parents weren't famous. But I chortled over 'Unintentionally Funny (Actual) Newspaper Headlines' like 'Squad helps dog bite victim'. And you do have to worry about stats that tell us 25% of the world's land surface will flood if all the Antarctic ice melts.

That Book ... ... Of Perfectly Useless Information makes the perfect gift for the trivia addict, especially those interested in celebrity factoids - and it's a great diversion while on the toilet too (even mentions famous people who died there!)

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