October 9, 2010

Do you read to find amazing facts?

"Bryson is especially good at dropping in 'amazing facts.' David Douglas, discoverer of the Douglas fir, died after falling into an animal trap that already contained a wild bull. Louis XIII didn't wash until he was nearly 7 years old. The term 'middle class' wasn't coined until 1745, in a book on the Irish wool trade. This is great stuff."


Expat(ish) said...

We lived in Oz for 10 months and before going I read all his books.

Everything he said turned out to be true.

And funny.


PS - i am always amused when an immeasurably less successful author criticizes a more successful one.

PDG9 said...

Similar to David Markson's books (I know he's been referenced here before.)

An almost random sample:

"When Dickens, at twelve, worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., six days a week, at the blacking factory, he also walked an hour each way to and from his family's Camden Town slum. And spent Sunday visiting his father in debtor's prison."

Crimso said...

My general philosophy is to above all else read. I know if I do, I can't help but come across amazing facts. I'm fairly good at trivia. A lot of times people playing trivia games with me say "Damn, how did you know that?!?!" My answer is always "I'm literate."

traditionalguy said...

An amazing fact happened at University of South Carolina this afternoon. Steve Spurrier is back and he wants to win as bad as ever. Meanwhile, the State of Alabama is on suicide watch and may have to fire Lou Saban for bad coaching. Spurrier, who is my age, won the Heisman the year we graduated. My son has always accused me of having Spurrier's personality, but that is not true, and I will throw down my visor and headset if he says it again.

SteveR said...

I've read a couple of his books and he's quite funny.

Chris said...

Bryson is a wonderful writer. Another of his books, A Short History of Nearly Everything is still pretty up to date and is LOADED with cool factoids about historical giants of science: lifelong feuds, bitter rivalries and bizarre eccentric ticks. Plus lots of amazing facts about nature and the universe. Anything by Bryson is is recommended reading, by default.

Irene said...

"Do you read to find amazing facts?"

Yes. That's why I studied history.

If you enjoyed Bryson's book, you also might like the original series.

AST said...

Amazingly, I don't. But I do seem to remember them, often when I forget the source and other details.

I knew that Dickens factoid, for example, but I could never have told you where I saw it.

My attention deficit is making it harder to read all the ti. . . SQUIRREL!

And that's why I read blogs. I don't know how many half-read books I have laying around.

Mike said...

Like DAVE said, Bryson's "Short History..." is stupendous. Although one is left with the realization that every generation or so we realize today's scientific fact gives way to What We Now Know. It's wise to skeptical about "settled science" because the world is unsettling.

That being said, run out today and buy "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" because that is Bryson at his best. And the demographics of this blog seem to jibe well with Bryson's reminiscences.