"The Book of General Ignorance"
by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 28th July 2009Another "trivia" type book, this time from the people behind the BBC TV panel show "QI" (see http://www.qi.com/), which delights in exposing commonly-held misconceptions. The letters "QI" stand for "quite interesting", and panellists earn points for giving interesting answers to general knowledge questions and lose points for boring ones in various rounds that ultimately end with the round called "General Ignorance".
The book continues this theme of offering surprising twists on things that you don't know as well as you thought you did. It's arguable that its connection to the TV show is somewhat tenuous (TV host Stephen Fry only supplies the foreword) however it's still a fascinating read and definitely one of the better trivia-type books that I've read.
So we learn for example that Admiral Nelson didn't wear an eyepatch (and the statue on Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square doesn't sport one either, in spite of people claiming that it does), and that the ancient Greeks knew that the world was round, and that Eskimos don't have 50 words for snow. But my favourite bit of trivia: that since humans are one of only two mammals without penis bones, this may well have originally been the "rib" from which God made Eve. Quite interesting, indeed.