For the past couple of weeks my kids and I have been on a weird-but-true books kick. They've been reading Stranger Than Science, a 1960 paperback that I discovered when I was about 11 or 12. The stories in Stranger Than Science are very entertaining, but a lot of them have been debunked, or at least detoothed, over the years.
I wondered if there might be a modern weird-but-true book that is entertaining as well as truthful. I looked around and I think I found it. It's National Geographic's Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories. This fat book (540 pages) is loaded with the same kinds of stories found in Stranger Than Science and Strangely Enough, but it isn't afraid to punch holes in popular urban legends. It explains the truth behind the Maya "doomsday" calendar, and the latest thinking behind Bigfoot, Area 51, and Chupacabra. And it does so without taking the fun or mystery out of them.
But Tales of the Weird isn't all about busting myths. Most of the book focuses on the wonderfully strange things in our universe: Women can sniff out men with odorless pheromones. Your brain can take cat naps while you are awake. Eating crocodiles may have resulted in the development of bigger brains in human beings. Ladybug incubators enslaved by wasps. New death ritual found in Himalaya. Cocaine addiction uses same brain paths as salt cravings. Astronauts' fingernails falling off. Five weirdest bugs. The Freemasons: eight myths decoded. Why do birds fall from the sky? UFO-like clouds linked to military maneuvers? Giant, mucuslike sea blobs on the rise, pose danger. And hundreds of others.
When Jane (9) read the chapter on synesthesia she became very excited and told me that she thought she was the only person in the world who connected specific colors with letters of the alphabet (Q is a dark purple for her, for instance).
This is possibly the best bathroom reading book ever written.
Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories
For the past couple of years, I’ve been making the case, at HILOBROW and in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored, that the Sixties (1964–1973, according to my non-calendrical schema) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. In no particular order, here’s my list of the Best YA and YYA Lit of 1967. Happy […]
Fletcher Hanks comics are incredibly violent, incredibly stupid, and incredibly beautiful. His first published work appeared in 1939, only months after the first Superman story ran, and his last work appeared in 1941. Then he disappeared.
All 53 of his batshit crazy tales have been reprinted in “Turn Loose Our Death Rays And Kill Them All!: The Complete Works Of Fletcher Hanks.” They are likely to pop your eyes, blow your mind, and leave you speechless. Shortly before his death, Kurt Vonnegut wrote that, “The recovery of these treasures is in itself a major work of art.”
Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything is a book by Bernie Sanders advisor Becky Bond and netroots pioneer Zack Exley.
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]