An encyclopedic gathering of (mostly) odd items to prod the imaginations of the curious.
Resler has assembled here a swarm of interesting bits of information on subjects as disparate as kazoos and invasive species. You don’t have to be a nerd to be captivated by this combination of Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and short-form encyclopedia. The tidbits are arranged alphabetically, with breaks for extended investigations—say into circuses, where readers will meet fire-eaters, contortionists, and human cannonballs—and sidebars profiling personalities who have something to do with the topic at hand. Occasional flowcharts help readers to see how their own nerdy interests might lead them to further study or even careers. The meat of the book, however, is in the bit-sized entries, typically no longer than four or five sentences. These touch upon topics running from Dada and daydreaming through Easter Island statues and experimental rock-’n’-roll to juggling and Jupiter’s auroras. It is a merry band of far-flung subject matter, presented in slightly self-conscious, jazzy language. “It’d hang out in swamps and snack on anything it pleased,” the book writes of a giant prehistoric snake, whereas “Zombies are dead people who come back to life (kinda).” Only rarely does the information swerve toward the cute—“If most zombies eat brains, what do vegetarian zombies eat?”—as most of the info blurbs are fun to know and in many instances educational.
A bushelful of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects with which to become acquainted. (Nonfiction. 8-13)