- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Oct. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571269656
- ISBN-13: 978-0571269655
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3.2 x 20.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance Hardcover – 7 Oct 2010
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'This is pretty much the most cheerful book you could ever read.' --Evening Standard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson is the sequel to the phenomenal international bestseller QI: The Book of General Ignorance, with, as ever, a foreword by Stephen Fry.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
What it manages really well - surprisingly so in a book that's essentially, well, about facts - is to maintain a rip-rattling pace, even while shifting topic with such frequency. It's very easy, for example, to get sucked into a bit about, say, how elephants get drunk, and not emerge until you've been firmly put in your place about the effect cracking your knuckles really has (if you're thinking arthritis you're - surprise surprise - wrong). For me, it also achieves the rare feat of making scientific stuff interesting ... if only my biology teacher at school had used this as a textbook.
The writing is superb, striking a note somewhere between authoritative and gently mocking. One of my favourite bits is from the article on absinthe:
"The active ingredient in wormwood is thujone .... [it] can be dangerous in high doses and does have a mild psychoactive effect, but not at the 10 milligrams per litre concentration that most absinthe contains. Sage, tarragon and Vicks VapoRub all contain similar levels of thujone, but no one has yet linked them to depraved behaviour."
Brilliant. If that raised a giggle - even a slight one - you'll love this book.
Intricately researched, and penned in a fluffy, yet cerebral tone, The Second Book Of General Ignorance is brilliant. Considering its richness in facts, it's amazing how quickly you can get through it, and this is in no small way due to the masterly writing style of Messrs. Lloyd and Mitchinson. A clever little trick they've employed is to link seemingly tenuous facts, so that you can be taken from a section about Genghis Khan, to one on nosebleeds, without feeling you've jumped anywhere at all.
One more thing that's great about it is that I was reading the whole thing with the voice of Stephen Fry in my head. Whether this is intentional or not, I don't know. But it certainly worked for me.
I Can't recommend this book enough. Get it as a Christmas present for people. Or if the only people you know are 'dull torpid acedia', buy it for yourself.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've a dinner party of people to inform that Steamboat Willie was not Mickey Mouse's first film.
This is a great book - well researched, well written, genuinely interesting, and funny enough to make me laugh out loud on the tube. The wonderfully light writing style manages to deliver a constant stream of information seemingly effortlessly, while the range of facts and histories on offer is a real treat. I've never felt so enthused about the chemical properties of water, the history of football, the origin of species and the molotov cocktail all in one day. This is not a dry list of clever facts. Every chapter has some particular factual nugget at its core, but they exist as a springboard for all manner of interesting sidelines. Typically a topic will also cover the origins of the word(s), and give a nod to the scientists, artists and thinkers involved before striking out on a fabulously unexpected tangent. One chapter starts with a look at the drinking habits of the world's animals and ends with a plot summary of the oldest surviving work of literature on earth, all in the space of a page.
The greatest strength of the book, in my opinion, is the evident enthusiasm of everybody involved in its compilation, from the industrious elves to the writers (John Lloyd and John Mitchinson) to Stephen Fry. Every time I dip into the book, I am struck by a sense of renewed enthusiasm about the world and all its little mysteries and curiosities. It feeds my inner geek. This book is like the kid in class who insists on asking 'why' all the time, and is happiest when the teacher has to admit that nobody really knows.
I had the previous Book of General Ignorance given to me twice by well meaning relatives, after having bought it myself. So I refrained from buying this second book being certain it would arrive in a Christmas wrapping. Happy days, I've just finished enjoying my first sprint through it, and I steadfastly resisted the overwhelming temptation to read out bits of it to the rest of the family. I'll not see it now for a few days while the others read it too.
The format is exactly as anyone familiar with QI might expect, for example there is a section entitled 'What colour are Oranges?' and it will come as no surprise to a QI aficionado that most oranges are green, so are lemons, mangoes, tangerines and grapefruit... The secret lies with ethylene, and the two Johns (Lloyd and Mitchinson) take almost two pages to fill in the many details showing us how and why.
The five Contents pages list the articles, and the eighteen page Index at the tail of the book allows quick searches for items one might want to find again - to show to others who don't believe the 'wild' assertions one might make after having read the book.
Here and there it is genuinely funny, but most of the time it is more intriguing and one is left with the feeling of having learnt something useful, and surprisingly interesting. It is excellent for dipping into since each article is complete and stands on its own; perfect for the bus or Tube or an evening of boring telly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My book worm of a daughter loves it X lots of interesting stuff inside xPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A book you can dip into often, with facts about everything you thought you knew about!Published 2 months ago by PurpleSue