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Mental Floss: Scatterbrained Paperback – Jun 15 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; 1 edition (June 15 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060882506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060882501
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,533,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“A lot like that professor of yours who peppered his tests with raunchy jokes: it makes learning fun.” (Newsweek)

“A delightfully eccentric and eclectic new magazine.” (Washington Post)

“Part scholarly journal, part Spy magazine protégé.” (Charlotte Observer)

“For the discerning intellect, Mental Floss cleans out the cobwebs.” (Chicago Tribune)

“The titans of trivia.” (Newsweek)

“An ideal reference to settle arguments or jog your memory.” (Calgary Herald)

About the Author

Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur met as first year students at Duke University. Ignoring the lures of law school and investment banking, the pair co-founded mental_floss and have been grinning ever since. Maggie Koerth-Baker is a freelance journalist and a former assistant editor at mental_floss magazine, where she consistently astounded Will and Mangesh with her amazingness.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Trivia-tastic July 17 2006
By Chris Higgins - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an immense collection of trivia, loosely related by tangential connecting facts. For example, a story about famous downfalls which recounts Oscar Wilde's end says: "But it's not like Wilde was angry enough to start a hunger strike or anything...." And then we're off into "The Greatest Hunger Strikers Ever." Scatterbrained is much like "The Areas of My Expertise" (John Hodgman), except not made-up. And with fewer hobo facts.

The Scatterbrained approach to trivia is very readable, like a talkative dinner guest who goes on endless factual tangents. It's amusing and fun, and offers you plenty of chances to bail out when you've had enough (for example, when you've completed your business in the, uh, bathroom). This would also make a nice (albeit small) coffee-table book, as it's the sort of thing your guests can leaf through and call out interesting, often bizarre anecdotes.

Nerdy note: this book was co-edited by noted Young Adult author John Green. Fans of "Looking for Alaska" will appreciate "Fond Farewells: The Best and Worst of Famous People's Last Words" on page 125, and fans of "An Abundance of Katherines" will enjoy "Math Nerds Gone Wild (And by Wild, We Mean Nuts)" on page 132.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Connecting Unrelated Facts to Connect the World You Want To Understand Sept. 28 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on
Format: Paperback
Marcus Chown's recent book, "The Quantum Zoo: A Tourist's Guide to a Never-Ending Universe" deals with quantum physics in a way that effectively uses popular culture references as a means toward understanding the world around us through scientific theory. Surprisingly, this book covers similar ground but from a completely non-scientific perspective by interconnecting seemingly unrelated trivia facts toward another view of the world. As you can assess, both books provide value to their respective audiences.

"Scatterbrained" is another slim volume from the editors of Mental Floss Magazine, a bimonthly launched in 2001 and targeted to aspiring Trivial Pursuit masters. This one takes nine isolated threads of facts to show how you could possibly make sense of the world. Granted, the connections can be rather tenuous, sometimes like an unending broken record on the turntable, but they are fun simply to track just to see where the lines of thought will go. It's a bit like playing a more expansive version of the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game except anything, no matter how trivial, is up for grabs.

A prototypical example is Chapter 4, "Humpty Dumpty to Having a Great Fall to Getting Put Back Together Again" You see the links between the fairy tale character, hunger strikes, celebrity trials, disasters that occur in autumn, diamonds, pseudonyms, the periodic table, trivia about the Web, the history of tattoos, and historic reunions. It's definitely a meandering journey for a less receptive mind but one that makes sense for any world-class trivia expert who can connect anything with anything. And for them, it's quite a fun read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining, but a lot of overlap with the magazine May 2 2013
By AlgeBrad - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't a terrible book, but most of the material is a repetition of material already presented in the magazine. Disappointing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, fun, hilarious, and highly recommended Sept. 28 2006
By Konstantine Simakis - Published on
Format: Paperback
An excellent compendium of oddball factoids, sharply designed and smartly written, c/o the fine folks at Mental_floss. I don't know how long it must have taken to compile all this stuff, but you can easily spend a weekend or more tearing through it. Good stuff -- I couldn't have enjoyed it more had I co-written it myself.
Scatterbrained Dec 15 2012
By Runa - Published on
Format: Paperback
So, off the bat, to be completely honest, I only read this book because it had Hank and John Green's names attached to it. It was really cool to hear so many things that have been referenced in vlogbrothers videos, like famous last words, Hodel the serial killer, child prodigies, using math textbooks as bully defense mechanisms, and most egregiously of all to me, "some infinities are bigger than others", which we now see come full circle in John's 2012 publication of The Fault in Our Stars. These little tidbits made the book a cool read (a friend also brought up the idea that this book may have been the one referenced in John's wedding toast to Hank) for any fan of the vlogbrothers, but beyond the references, it did have its instances where it dragged. Then again, there is something in this book for everyone, so there will be parts where you couldn't care less, but other parts where you'll be completely engrossed in the bits of trivia. But ultimately, I read it because of Hank and John, and they are the ones who I'd like to hear more from in regards to this book. I want to know who was responsible for which parts and what it was like for them to collaborate in this medium and all of the backstory! After learning so much, there's still so much story behind the story that I want to learn.