Caroline Taggart’s I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School is an amusing little book that serves to catch readers up on information they may have forgotten about entirely after leaving high school.
Clocking in at 192 pages, I Used to Know That works adequately as a sort of quiz book for family and friends. I wouldn’t recommend it as a fireside reading companion, as the majority of Taggart’s book is presented in list or compilation form with cursory glances at the material.
Taggart’s introduction reveals that she remembered more than she originally thought she would upon writing the book. Reading through the various sections, I found myself in her shoes: I could remember the slightest of details, but some of the broader concepts completely escaped me.
The introduction goes on to lay out the foundation for I Used to Know That, describing how the author discovered two things when researching the book: everybody had been to school and they all had forgotten entirely different things. In presenting the material, therefore, Taggart’s mission becomes clear and the information spans the assorted subjects quickly and concisely.
In selecting what should be covered and what should not be covered, Taggart does make some interesting choices. A paragraph outlining the Holocaust, for instance, never once mentions concentration camps by name.
I Used to Know That covers history, geography, literature, science, math, and a few odds and ends including religion and a sort of potpourri of other facts.
Much of what is covered comes in the order of importance to the author, it seems, and some subjects are given more prominence and ink than others. The book gets a little tricky when Taggart starts listing important composers, artists, writers, and the like. She is sure to miss someone “important” along the way of course and the author seems fully aware of that, offering a disclaimer before presenting each “list.”
The math section covers most of the vital bases, as does the science section. I found myself bogged down in the details while Taggart explained the ins and outs of quadratic equations, but was, of course, more intrigued and piqued by her review of great poets and literary figures. Others will naturally experience different results.
I Used to Know That is a fun little piece of review material but it isn’t much more than that. A nice desktop companion for those in need of a little educational refreshment, Taggart’s book quickly and somewhat painlessly cruises through the bulk of the subjects that caused many of us great pain and heartbreak in our formative years.