Tuesday, January 17, 2012

QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance - Book Review

QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Who made the first aeroplane flight? How many legs does an octopus have? How much water should you drink every day? What is the chance of tossing a coin and it landing on heads? What happens if you leave a tooth in a glass of coke overnight? What is house dust mostly made from? What colour are oranges? Who in the world is most likely to kill you? What was the first dishwasher built to do? John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, the brains behind QI, here present a wonderful collection of the most outrageous, fascinating and mind-bending facts, taking on the popular General Ignorance round from BBC1's top rated quiz and the first book in the bestselling series. And whatever your answers to the questions above, you can be sure that everything you think you know is wrong.

Just a short review this time from me on this book. First let me say how well researched, well written, genuinely interesting this books is. Also it is more than funny enough to make me laugh out loud in the office. The wonderfully light writing style manages to deliver a constant stream of information seemingly effortlessly, while the range of facts and histories on offer is a real treat. I've never felt so enthused about the chemical properties of water, the history of football, the origin of species and the Molotov cocktail all in one day. This is not a dry list of clever facts. Every chapter has some particular factual nugget at its core, but they exist as a springboard for all manner of interesting sidelines. Typically a topic will also cover the origins of the word(s), and give a nod to the scientists, artists and thinkers involved before striking out on a fabulously unexpected tangent. One chapter starts with a look at the drinking habits of the world's animals and ends with a plot summary of the oldest surviving work of literature on earth, all in the space of a page.

The greatest strength of the book, in my opinion, is the evident enthusiasm of everybody involved in its compilation, from the industrious elves to the writers (John Lloyd and John Mitchinson) to Stephen Fry. Every time I dip into the book, I am struck by a sense of renewed enthusiasm about the world and all its little mysteries and curiosities. It feeds my inner geek. This book is like the kid in class who insists on asking 'why' all the time, and is happiest when the teacher has to admit that nobody really knows.

One of the best things about it is that if you have ever seen QI or have knowledge of Stephen Fry then, even though he didn't write the book, you hear every word of the book in your head with his voice! For that reason and many more a solid four and a half stars from me.

Available from:
QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Hardback • ISBN 9780571269655

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