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I watch very little television. It simply isn't my thing. Books on the other hand are a different matter. I devour them, always have, always will. Now, whilst I was aware a popular TV programme called QI existed, I had never watched it. So, I came across this book fortuitously while I was perusing book offers.
There was a time-limited offer for the digital edition of this book for the Kindle on Amazon for a ridiculous price of 20p so I instinctively went for it. This is a brilliant book. It is packed full of interesting and very interesting facts. Reading this is not a dry academic endeavour. It is cleverly written, with one fact, just a sentence or two long dovetailing nicely into the next. Even with this arrangement you don't actually have to read it in the order it is written. You can start anywhere and stop anywhere and it will be interesting.
It is the case that, when it comes to books, taste is very personal. As such, some may find this to be full of useless if sometimes funny trivia. I tend to look at this kind of read as fascinating. Things you never thought about but are astonished to discover. In many cases, it may lead you to research the subject further as your curiosity is aroused. Take these facts for example (don't worry, not a spoiler; I'm mentioning less than 0.1% of what is in the book):
* "The first book ever printed in Oxford had a misprint on the first page: They got the date wrong".
* Caffeine constitute the same 'ingredients' as cocaine, thalidomide, Nylon, TNT and heroin namely the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen
* A language dies every 14 days
* In the 19th and early 20th century, the most popular 21st birthday present was to have all your teeth removed and replaced with false ones
* The human brain takes in 11 million bits of information every second but is aware of only 40
* Until 1913, it was legal to send children by parcel post in America.
OK, that is only six of the 1227 'gems' you will find in this book. By the way, QI stands for 'Quite Interesting'. You have to agree that is on the mark.
This book is so well written for easy reading that you can be forgiven to forget that this is a very seriously researched book. For those who watch the TV programme, the pleasure is probably enhanced. I loved it and will surely delve in again a few times. Also handy for those who relish a one-upmanship down the pub on quiz night. A very enjoyable book indeed.
QI, or Quite Interesting, is by far my favourite show currently on TV. It's funny, entertaining and allows you to learn something new, often quite a lot of new things actually! Whilst I do love the Stephen Fry/Alan Davis relationship and am a fan of a lot of the regular guests, it is the facts which appeal to me most on the show so I thought one of the many QI books containing many more of these facts would be something I'd like to read.
There are four facts to a page along with an introduction and an index at the back. The facts are not divided into categories as such but each will tie into the previous one in some way or another making everything flow together really nicely. Whilst this one of those books you're probably most likely to dip into from time to time it's extremely easy and enjoyable to read from cover to cover to.
The facts are given simply in a sentence or two so there is no overcomplicating things. This did, however, mean I've spent quite a lot of time on the internet researching deeper into some of the facts which interested me most. There's a fair few where you think 'I need to more about that' and just leaving it at a sentence did sometimes frustrate my curiosity.
All 1227 facts are well researched and certainly are 'quite interesting'. There were a few where I found myself thinking 'surely everyone already knows that?' but on the whole there is an excellent mix of facts on different subjects which were completely new to me and, I imagine, to the vast majority of everyone else as well.
The book is certainly an entertaining one with all of the facts being unusual and often laugh out loud funny. The problem with it is though that you'll find yourself becoming quite annoying when reading this. I've taken to just reciting everything I've learned to everyone I come into contact with now! In fact I'm finding it very difficult to not to include some of my favourites in this review although I shall refrain from doing so as to not ruin the surprise.
John Mitchinson and John Lloyd, along with a small group of researchers, have done an excellent job at researching and finding these facts, I dread to think how long it took! Furthermore, they've done an excellent job at piecing all of their findings together in a way which flows smoothly and interestingly throughout.
If, like me, you enjoy filling your head with useless knowledge in the hope the answer will day be used in a pub quiz, or you just like learning new bits of information, then you'd very much enjoy this and I'd thoroughly recommend it.
Published: Faber and Faber Non Fition, 2012
Price: £6.59 from Amazon (from £2.99 new and £6.13 used). Kindle Edition 20p.