I bought this version of the Pears Cyclopaedia for my mother whose original copy was out-of-date by about 20 years (meaning we were still at "cold war" with Russia!). As ever, the Pears Cyclopaedia is THE fact-file for all things weird, wonderful, interesting and fascinating. Separated into chapters such as "Prominent People" and "Maps of the World" this is a slightly-too-large-for-the-pocket-but-definitely-small-enough-for-the-travel-bag tome of epically small proportions. It contains an extraordinary wealth of information on such fascinating subjects as classical mythology, gardening and cookery and is most definitely the reference book of choice in households across Britain. They do go out of date over time but the old stalwarts such as the atlas aren't going to be changing any time soon and so even if it is a few years old, the majority of the information is still correct.
My mum, being the kind of person she is, reads it before she goes to bed - and whenever I chat to her on the phone, I'm usually treated to a "Did you know..." followed by a great little bit of info.
A must-have, truly great stuff.