When I was a kid, I devoured Frank Edwards' 1959 book of weird "true" stories, Stranger Than Science, and C.B. Colby's book of "hair raisers and incredible happenings," called Strangely Enough. The story about the Inuit village that mysteriously became a ghost town (with cooking fires still burning), and the one about the man who vanished on his front lawn in front of his wife and kids enthralled me and my friends.
Unfortunately, most of the stories weren't even "true." They were flat-out false, as I learned in recent years when I googled them.
A couple of months ago I received a review copy of Dan Lewis' Now I Know, which has 100 strange phenomena stories that are just as fun as Stranger than Science and Strangely Enough, with the bonus of being true. (UPDATE: It's on sale as a Kindle ebook for just $2.99)
The book is a compilation of Lewis' popular Now I Know newsletter, and contains stories about:
-The US military's $25 million plan to firebomb Japanese towns in WWII using flocks of bats with incendiary devices strapped on their backs.
-How mathematicians are beating the odds in state-run lotteries.
-The curious link between red hair, increased sensitivity to pain, and resistance to anesthesia.
-South Korea's irrational fear of electric fans.
-The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa (which was not painted on canvas, "but on three pieces of wood roughly and inch and a half thick") from the Louvre.
-How a Hungarian chemist hid gold Nobel Prize medals from the Nazis by dissolving them in aqua regia (a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid), and then precipitated the gold out of solution when it was safe to do so.
-How Coca Cola gets its coca leaves, one of the ingredients used in its top secret syrup recipe.
-"Mr. Acid," the underground chemist who was making a kilogram of LSD every five weeks until he was imprisoned. (A single gram is enough for 10,000 trips)
Every story in the book is interesting, and Lewis includes a "bonus fact" at the end of each story which is a mini mind bender on its own.
Buy Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts from Amazon
See also: Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories: possibly the best bathroom reading book ever written.
On September 14, 1987, Garry B Trudeau ran the first Doonesbury strip that mentioned Donald Trump, in which his characters marvel that New York’s “loudest and most visible asshole” had floated a political trial balloon, hinting that he would run for president; thus began 30 years of marveling at, mocking, and skewering Der Drumpf, so rattling the Short-Fingered Vulgarian that he felt the need to issue a series of wounded denunciations. Now, just in time for the election, Trudeau has released a collection of his Trump-themed strips, Yuge: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump, just the thing to put the Republican nominee on tilt.
Back in 2009, I found a rare, used copy of Shel Silverstein’s raunchy, hilarious not-kid’s book Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: A Primer for Adults Only, after George RR Martin told me it was uproariously funny and a don’t-miss.
Vancouver-based engineer-turned-“entrepreneur” Valeriy Shershnyov published thousands of titles in the Kindle store, “books” of typo-riddled nonsense that he upranked with a system of bots that gamed Amazon’s fraud-detection systems, allowing him to sell more than $3M worth of garbage to unsuspecting Amazon customers.
Vaping is getting more mainstream by the day, which means there’s been an influx of quality yet affordable vaporizers on the market. We’re particularly excited about the APX Wax Vaporizer Kit, which is an easy-to-use, high-quality vape that works with both dry herbs and waxy concentrates.If you’re a beginner trying to get into vaping, the APX […]
When you’ve had a long day and it’s time to unwind, there’s a lot you can do to relax: drink some tea, take a shower or even read a book. But there’s one thing that’s essential to a comfortable night’s rest—and that’s investing in some really good sheets. Enter Bamboo Bed Sheets. These quality sheets retail for $120, but […]
The Avantree Powerhouse 4 Port Fast USB Charging Station brings high quality, high power, and still keeps your work space or home looking neat and organized. The best part about this charger is its capacity. It comes packing 4 USB charging sockets and a powerful 4.5A/22.5W output.. Its smartport technology means you don’t have to worry about frying your battery, either—it […]