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Book Review: Genius Instruction Manual by the Writers of mental_floss

Scenario 1: You spent more time smoking grass than going to class and suddenly find yourself interviewing for VP of Research and Development for Microsoft and need to understand the basics of the Binary Numeral Systems, which may be just a bunch of 0s and 1s, but is pretty heady stuff for those suffering from short-term memory loss.

mental_floss has an answer for that.

Scenario 2: You're Britney Spears and it occurred to you that if
you could just travel back in time
, put on your underwear, apply some standards to your choice in babydaddies, then you might have a shot at a comeback. 'Cuz if y’all ever seen Back To The Future, then you’d know time travel is possible, yo.

mental_floss has an answer for that too, but it does require being semi-literate, so

Scenario 3: You're a suburban housewife and are running for president of the PTA and want to intimidate and embarrass your competition with your vast and superior knowledge on things ranging from string theory to philosophy, but unfortunately you spend more time doing Pilates and tanning than reading and learning.

You are in luck, oh shallow slave to suburbia, because mental_floss has an answer for you as well.

In fact, with the MF Genius Instruction Manual, you have an answer to many of life's puzzling mysteries. Or in my case, the answer to huge gaps in knowledge that most 9th graders possess.

Known for condensing factoids into precise and interesting anecdotes, the geniuses behind mental_floss magazine carefully put together a brief, but surprisingly comprehensive outline of the world's most important concepts – like a Cliff Notes guide to the greatest inventors, scientists, philosophers and artists of modern history.

Not only does this manual explain the concepts behind the theory of relativity, time travel, global warming, modernism vs. post modernism and nuclear reactions; it also thoughtfully helps the reader distinguish the differences between a Shakespeare tragedy and a comedy (there's a difference?), and between an insane genius and regular genius.

This book also helped me discover what kind of genius I am: an idiot savant, minus the savant.

If you are like me, which I am positive at least one person out there is (my sympathies), you just don't have the time to read all 550,000 words of Tolstoy's War and Peace but you know it's going to be on life's test, then this is the book for you.

The MF team of writers is absolutely brilliant at reducing extremely complex and complicated material into terms that even someone with my limited mental faculties can grasp. I felt so energized and mentally refueled after reading this book I was able to assemble a fission bomb in my kitchen using simple tools like baking soda and peroxide. (Honestly, I don't understand why the terrorists are having such trouble, that thing exploded real good.)

Perhaps the best thing about the entire series of mental_floss books is how well they intertwine the elements of humor and sophisticated wit within nuggets of interesting facts. These writers know their audience: ADD suffering info junkies. The wisdom to combine information such as which geniuses were infected with syphilis with who suffered from drug addiction (in many cases both) takes a keen understanding of what the masses want to know.

There is no better way to impress your friends at a cocktail party that to rattle off histories greatest works of literature, and then follow up with a sweet anecdote about Mozart writing a dirty lyric for a canon which stated "Lick my [*blank*] nice and clean." The MF writers didn't include the actual word out of “common decency,” but I am guessing it wasn't his plate.

About Dawn Olsen

  • http://www.gohah.blogspot.com GL Hauptfleisch

    Great article, Dawn, but what if your ADD-suffering pertains to even this book–is there a Mental Floss for Dummies available? And a Cliffs Notes for the Mental Floss for Dummies, too?

  • Dawn

    Muchos gracias Gordon!!! And if there were a way to distill knowledge even further, I would be first in line. I am so ADD I forget to forget sometimes.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Scenario 4: I’m a white male, age 18 to 35, looking to make money on the side by creating a bootleg version of Trivial Pursuit so I can stop selling other people’s organs out of my van.

  • Dawn

    Mental_floss has an answer for even you, Matt.

  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States. Nice work!

  • Dawn

    Awesome!!! Thanks NB!

  • http://www.gohah.blogspot.com GL Hauptfleisch

    This article has been selected as an Editors’ Pick. Congratulations! But no fabulous prizes!