Monday, March 16, 2009

Ten weird things I have learned from reading books

Outside of my bookstore persona, my friends often say that my head is filled with nothing, if not useless facts. But, to be honest, I was not the first person to bring light to these so-called "useless facts." Most things I learned, I picked up from (usually) some non-reference book. Here are a few cool facts I've discovered in the last few years!

1. James Dean only made three films in his short lifetime: Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant.
Maybelline "Maybe" Chestnut and her two best friends, Ted and Hollywood, drive cross country in search of Maybe's biological father, all while discussing the classic old school Hollywood films.
-Source: Absolutely Maybe by Lisa See

2. I've actually learned a myriad of things from The Art of Shen Ku; a Vitamin B6 deficiency, for instance, will cause sensitivity to sunlight, and people that are born in the year of the dragon and very compatible with people who are born in the year of the rat.
-Source: The Art of Shen Ku by Zeek

3. In the Old Testament of the Bible it says that when a woman is going through her "monthly cycle," anything that she has touched any male that is in the vicinity is NOT allowed to touch. In The Year of Living Biblically, the author's wife, out of spite, goes and touches everything in the living room while she is "cycling", so that he can not sit down- it is highly entertaining.
-Source: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
4. Vegetables can actually taste good.
When Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without was first released I was skeptical that there was ANY vegetable that I couldn't live without. But, being the world's worst vegetarian, I took a look, and low and behold, VEGETABLES CAN TASTE AWESOME! For any skeptics out there, try the cauliflower gratin with capers and bread crumbs: it's simple and can be served as a side dish or an entree!
-Source: The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen

5. In the Florida Everglades there is a critically endangered wildcat called the Florida Panther.
Nick and Marta go on a quest to find their missing science teacher, and on the way help to save a panther cub that has been separated from it's mother in Scat.
-Source: Scat by Carl Hiaasen

6. I have obtained a recipe to make invisible ink!
As a kid I remember thinking that the production of invisible ink was akin to Sasquatch, or the Loch Ness monster- a myth. One day I happened to stumble upon a real-life recipe for invisible ink in The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys, and was thrilled. Who knew that any organic material that is clear can be turned into a heat-activated invisible ink?
-Source: The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden

7. The assassination of President Lincoln included a plot to assassinate both Vice President Andrew Johnson, as well as Secretary of State William H. Seward. After the assassination, John Wilkes Booth, and one of his co-conspirators, David Herold, fled the state and instigated a 14 day manhunt that eventually ended in John Wilkes Booth's death.
Although my public school education did me well in some areas, I don't remember any information about Lincoln's assassination other than the fact that it happened.
-Source: Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson

8. It is possible to have punk rock ideals and follow a Buddhist lifestyle.
Noah Levine, son of Stephen Levine, the author and teacher of guided meditations, grows up in the 80's punk scene in Southern California. It's not until his last stint in juvenile detention that Noah realizes that he can integrate the ideals of non-conformity and need for change into a more peaceful, and less self-destructive, Buddhist existence.
-Source: Dharma Punx by Noah Levine

9. One of the first people to pioneer the reconstruction of dinosaurs based on the bones excavated was a Brit named Waterhouse Hawkins.
I was cleaning up the kids picture books section one day when I came across a really cool book called The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. In addition to being full of useless knowledge, while simultaneously being the world's worst vegetarian, I also happen to have a weird obsession with dinosaurs. And man, what a book for everyone who loves dinosaurs! Waterhouse Hawkins was a sculptor who brought dinosaurs to life by making life-size models of dinosaurs in the Crystal Palace Park in London.
-Source: The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick

10. It is ENTIRELY possible to write a whole book in fraternity-style speech patterns, and be both coherent and entertaining.
Daniel Maurer's new book Brocabulary carefully details how to brommunicate about ho couture, as well as how to be a chilletante, all while putting on the rouse of being an interesting and well-educated member of society.
-Source: Brocabulary by Daniel Maurer



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