Appearing in 1993, ten years after BIG SECRETS and seven after BIGGER SECRETS, William Poundstone's BIGGEST SECRETS is evidence that the author needs to get on with life. Perhaps he too realizes that fact, since "biggest" is the superlative form of the adjective. Poundstone has nowhere to go from here.
Unshelled peanuts aren't the most convenient pub snack, but it's hard to shell and eat only several. Likewise, BIGGEST SECRETS doesn't represent fine literature, but it's difficult to put down. Poundstone has several (favorite) recurring topics in his books: the secret ingredients of famous junk foods, secret initiation rites, magicians' secrets revealed, reverse messages on popular music tracks, and subliminal pictures in movies. The last two seem almost obsessions. But, he also throws in others. For example, in BIGGEST, there are exposed: the formula for Play-Doh, security coding of lottery tickets, the meaning of gang graffiti, how to get that ship in a bottle, and celebs' real ages.
As with BIG, so many varied subjects are covered that the individual reader is certain to find some that intrigue, and some that bore to tears. So, I enjoyed learning about the Mrs. Field's chocolate chip cookie recipe, the method behind the rabbit-out-of-the-hat illusion, fake towns on maps, the ingredients of Spam and head cheese, Christmas gift return codes, the evolution of Kelloggs Frosted Flakes, and the location of Century House in London (MI-6 HQ). On the other hand, I couldn't care less about a stylometry evaluation of the Beale Cipher, a 19th-century treasure map in code, or the real ages of the likes of Joan Collins, the Gabor sisters, Don Rickles, Imogene Coca, Charo and Joan Rivers, or fire-lighting tricks of the Boy Scouts.