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My husband and I own rather a large selection of books and one that joined our collection last year is named Ripley's Believe It or Not 2011. As I am interested in items that are quirky my sister thought it would be a good choice of gift for me and I would totally agree, as I favour something that's a little bit different. I'm sure that most people have heard of Ripley's, which operates with the enthusiasm and curiosity as its American founder, namely Robert Ripley. There have been many televised programmes as well as a published annual, where we learn about Ripley, who in 1918 set upon his quest to uncover the world's most bizarre and unbelieveable true stories. The hardcover large book consists of 254 high quality glossy pages and will take you on a remarkable journey throughout the world where you will come across some very weird stories; some of which can be described as rather gruesome. Prepare to be amazed ....
The first couple of pages provide us with an index, which in itself could be considered as bizarre with its scary looking photographs with the first one depicting an article about "Island of Dolls", which can be found in the section "Weird World". I have a thing about certain types of dolls after watching the most horrid film named Dolls back in the eighties where they all came to life and starting carrying out gruesome and the most horrifying attacks on their inventor! We are provided with a little information of Ripley and I must admit that until I read this book I was totally unaware that there are 31 Ripley museums in the world, which showcase a replica selection of his peculiar finds. At the end of the book we are provided with a list of locations with the only one in the UK being at Blackpool. We are briefly taken behind the scenes at the Ripley's headquarters in Orlando where we are provided with information and a few colour photographs, which illustrate how the museum sculptures are brought to life.
I am in no doubt that many of the articles cross over with the Guinness Book of Records, such as the child who was born with six fingers on her right hand. You're probably thinking that's nothing unusual, as this is a common occurrence, but each of the fingers were almost identical with no signs of a thumb and we are provided with a colour image. Whilst some of the articles are of little or no help to anyone other than to satisfy the curiosity, there are a large number of reports that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. For instance, we are presented with a photograph of a car in the Nertherlands where in 2009 the owner discovered it totally buried beneath a giant silk cocoon that had been created by thousands of caterpillars. The article discussing the "Hairy Meal" is pretty gruesome where a 10 lb mass of curly hair was removed from a teenager's stomach following her addiction to eating the stuff!
There are large coloured images scattered throughout the book, which support many of the almost unbelievable articles. One article, which for obvious reasons did not support a photograph, is the Japanese man who pretended to be dead to avoid being arrested for a driving offence. However, his antics went a little far as medics inserted a catheter into his urethra and whilst the majority of male readers are probably flinching, the man didn't batter an eye lid and continued to play dead! This is not the type of book that you would sit down and read from cover to cover, as there is just so much text. To enable easier reading, each article, which consists of approximately six to twelve lines is identified with a coloured heading. This is probably the most difficult book I have ever reviewed, particularly as it covers every subject you could possibly think of and in addition to the toe-curling articles there are those that make me smile such as the sick turtle, which swam directly to the turtle treatment hospital in Florida.
There is a section on "Tasty Delights" where we are provided with a number of supporting photographs, such as the perfectly shaped edible Buddha pears that were modified in China and can be witnessed growing on the tree. I loved the photo and article regarding a giant gummi bear, which was created from 5 lbs of jelly and is 1,400 times bigger than the average sized bear - yummy! There is the underwater restaurant in the Maldives, which was created and lowered into the sea and subsequently secured to the sea bed with concrete and four steel posts. We learn of the Chinese student who in 2009, paid his course fees in oranges and proceeded to drive two tonnes of mandarin oranges to sell to his fellow students. Some of the articles are nothing but bizarre, such as the article on a retired bank manager who decided to change his image by undergoing 240 body piercings with 150 of them being on his face and head! The photo is most definitely not for the faint hearted!
It would be absolutely impossible for me to discuss each of the chapters, as there is so much information and this is a book that I tend to dip into when I want to satisfy a little curiosity. It most certainly gets you thinking of the amount of people that are just plain bonkers or has you jaw dropping due to the very weird events that go on in our world. There is a host of topics such as weather, animals, vampires and the most bizarre student pranks, which makes compelling read. The book would probably appeal to a wide variety of ages provided of course, that you're fascinated in this type of thing. As previously stated, some of the articles and supporting images are a little gruesome, so it is unsuitable for young children although older children would no doubt take great delight in receiving a book of this nature.
Unfortunately and to my husband's dismay, I cannot sit quietly reading this book, as I am forever pointing out articles to him as my jaw hits the floor! Despite having owned this book for quite some time, on each occasion that I pick it up I find articles and photographs that I have previously missed. I cannot say that this is an educational book as it's far from it, but it most certainly satisfies the curiosity and if you like things that are a little different, then this is most definitely for you. The extensive index at the end of the book is a little pointless as far as I'm concerned, particularly as unless you've read through the book, you're not going to have the faintest idea of what you're going to find inside. Buy it if you dare .....
You can purchase Ripley's Believe it or Not from Amazon from 1p for a used copy plus postage and packing or £13.29 for a new copy inclusive of postage and packing.
ISBN - 9781847-945860
Published by Anne Marshall 2010, Randon House Books, London
I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.