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Book Review: The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists, Edited by Jamie Frater

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The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists is subtitled A Mind-boggling Collection of Fun, Fascinating and Bizarre Facts on Movies, Music, Sports, Crime, Celebrities, History, Trivia, and More, a mouth-boggling title/sub-title combination if ever there was one.

Like many other titles in this genre, it is filled with strange trivia and minutiae. Each entry in its lists of ten is described or its inclusion is justified in a brief paragraph. Unlike many other titles in this genre, it also contains some good advice — hints and tips for living better, enjoying more, and preparing for the future (a lot of stuff that provokes, “hmmmm…why didn’t I think of that?”).

You may not need the “Top 10 Prison Survival Tips” if you take the “Top 10 Tips for Outrunning the Cops” to heart. There are top-10s of cooking tips; ways to appear intelligent, live frugally, win arguments, and remove stains; and prepare for another depression (important to read with the related “Top 10 Tips for Surviving the Street”). Of course, it’s not the useful information that is the most entertaining.

The first of its 14 chapters gets right down to the good stuff, or as the author puts it, “Bizarre Stuff.” Urban legends are debunked, medical anomalies are described, and (for the e-shoppers out there) “Top Ten Bizarre Things You Can Buy on Amazon.com” are revealed. Religion and science, people and nature, movies and music, and literature and history all have their own chapters (as well as food and drink, literature, crime, tips for life, travel, and the ever-popular miscellaneous).

Browsing through the table of contents entices with “Codes You Aren’t Meant to Know,” “Poisonous Foods We Love to Eat,” and “Modern Methods of Execution.” The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists is 706 pages long, and even if you tell yourself you’re not interested in some of the topics, you’ll find yourself reading your way through to the last page.

Many of the lists are funny, some are sad, others are shocking; best of all, there’s so much in The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists with which you are unfamiliar or were only vaguely aware that it could be included in “Top 10 Tips for Sounding Smarter than You Are.”

Keep The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists in the car and read it while you’re waiting in line at Motor Vehicles or sitting in a waiting room, the bathroom for brief reading (but don’t tell anyone or you’ll never have access to the privy), next to the bed for some light reading before dropping off, or anywhere that offers short reading opportunities. Warning: The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists is addictive and there’s really no such thing as  “reading just one list.” As with potato chips, one leads to another, and another, and…

Bottom Line: Would I buy The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists? Yes, I’ve always liked books of lists, and this one is particularly entertaining. Turn to any page and be shocked, amused, scared, mystified, or amazed.

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