Sunday, 1 September 2013

Because I said so! By Ken Jennings

Why I chose it: I've got no idea which of my many sources for good books told me about this one, and Googling reviews is no help.

Podcasts: Authors on Tour Live

Brow: reading a book that dispels all the old wives' tales your mother told you as a child is lower-middle brow. Calling your mother to tell her about all the ways she was wrong is low brow.

Summary: Jennings takes some of the old chestnuts your mother, and possibly others, told you as a child, like, 'No swimming for 30 minutes after eating!' and 'Never run with scissors!' and puts them to the test to find out if they're really true or not. Some, such as 'If you swallow gum, it will stay in your guts for 7 years!' are patently false, no matter how often you step in gum belonging to people who believe it. Others, like 'Shut the door! You're letting out all the heat!' are most decidedly true.

What I liked about it: I happened to read this while staying at my parents' house, and every time I read one of my mother's favourite childhood admonishments, I shouted upstairs to tell her whether she'd been wrong this whole time, or, in some rare cases, 100% correct. Among my triumphs: 'If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way!' (they won't) and among the things I'd always believed to be true, but really aren't: 'Never wear someone else's glasses or your eyes will get confused!' (they won't). I missed out unnecessarily on one of the few joys of being a four-eyes in childhood because of my firm belief in that one.

What I didn't like about it: What could one possibly find negative about a book that confirms or denies the 'Five Second Rule?' (False). I guess my one complaint is that it never addresses whether something will 'Put hair on your chest,' which was my own mother's personal way of cajoling me (her daughter, btw) to try unfamiliar foods.

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