Monday, April 22, 2013

LISTOMANIA


Review of LISTOMANIA

This book is, well, a big book of lists. No, no, wait, keep reading! It’s way cooler than it sounds. No matter what your passions, interests, or hobbies, there’s something in here to fascinate everyone. LISTOMANIA is really a big book of random, interesting trivia, but presented as well-designed lists.

The lists are divided into nine categories. These categories are somewhat arbitrary, but they give a wealth of unreleated information some organization. Rather than speak about these lists in vague terms, let me give you some specific examples. There’s the list about “things that fell from the sky.” Apparently, frogs and toads are one of the most common unexplained “rains.” I also liked the list of “addictive substances ranked.” People discuss and argue over the most addictive substances, but Dr. Jack E. Henningfield suggests that addiction can be divided into five different factors: withdrawal, reinforcement, tolerance, dependence, and intoxication. With those criteria, LISTOMANIA ranks heroin, alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, marijuana, and caffeine. Just because a substance scores highest in one aspect of addictiveness doesn’t mean it will be the leader in all. The list about “places on earth that are still unexplored” definitely appealed to my curiosity. The Atrato Swamplands in South America have yet to be officially explored due to impassibility as well as large numbers of both mosquitoes and alligators. I’m sure many people will enjoy the list of “lies that movies tell us.” I nodded my head along and/or laughed aloud at a few of these common movie misconceptions, including “running in high heels is easy.” Another oddity list, “unsolved mysteries,” still has my mind turning. In particular, the case of the Mary Celeste, a merchant ship that was completely abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872, caught my attention. I’ll leave you to read the specific details in the book, but it’s certainly a perplexing event. If any of these lists intrigued you, know that I’m barely scratching the surface of all the enthralling details packed into LISTOMANIA!

I should mention that these aren’t simple, dull 1, 2, 3, left justified lists of black text on white paper. The graphic designers behind this book clearly deserve as much credit as the researchers and writers. Each page is wondrously designed with a visually appealing layout, simple illustrations, and a clear logic. Naturally, it’s reminiscent of the same attention to detail that comes to mind when we think about lists!

I’m convinced anyone would enjoy this book, but writers in particular should take note; it’s a writer’s goldmine! The “unexplored places” and “unsolved mysteries” lists that I mentioned above should serve as enough evidence of LISTOMANIA’s imagination-provoking powers, but consider also “military blunders,” “lost civilizations,” “people who mysteriously vanished,” “cases of stolen glory,” and “famous ghosts.”

Needless to say, LISTOMANIA inspired me to dig deeper into the bits and pieces that interested me the most. I plan on re-reading the whole thing so I can take notes on the parts that really shocked, amused, or moved me and then delve into my own research on those topics. This one’s a treasure, all right!

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