#22 of the Uncle John canon is a welcome return to form following the slightly below average (average for Uncle John that is, which is still good) Unsinkable #21 from last year (2008). With #21 it seemed as through Uncle John was beginning to stretch himself a little thin, what with the dozens of special focus books (Sports, Movies, Armed Forces, etc.) released in a short period of time. Or maybe he was succumbing to the pressure from the competing "Armchair Reader" series, which has been gaining ground. What ever the cause, it appears that Uncle John was able to get over it, because this volume is consistently fascinating and contains plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, wow-I-never-knew-that moments, and I-can't-believe-it moments. These include the account of how Hitler's personal doctor poisoned him while trying to cure his flatulence problem, the development of digital photography, a surprisingly plausible explanation for the sighting of ghostly apparitions in drafty old mansions,the story of the man who invented party balloons, and my personal favorite part of each volume, unintentionally hilarious real newspaper headlines (One-Armed Man Applauds Kindness of Strangers).
For the uninitiated, Uncle John's Bathroom Readers illustrate the concept that "truth is stranger than fiction" better than any other trivia/factoid/lists/urban legend/random topic book or series out there. The "Bathroom Reader" part of the title does not mean that the content is predominantly toiletry in nature - it's more of a platform from which Uncle John inserts puns into the material. Each volume contains all new information culled from the international news-wire and from eager contributors around the world, and of course this one is no different - there are plenty of bizarre news items from 2009, some of which must have come in the last minutes before printing. This series is an excellent resource for anyone who does any kind of public speaking; content from here could easily transform any dull presentation into, well, let's not get too overzealous, a presentation that people will find at least moderately interesting. Personally I have been a fan for 15 years now, and I own 26 volumes including all 22 of the original series and the 4 best special focus books; all of them are worth having around. If you were able to invite Uncle John over on the weekend, he'd be the life of the party and leave with all your friends. So it's best to have him in book form sitting before the porcelain throne, to be fascinated by his wealth of useless knowledge on your own time.
A Brief Buyer's Guide for Uncle John
Whether you're just starting an Uncle John collection or are looking to complete one already begun...
Uncle John's 4-ply Bathroom Reader contains full versions of the first 4 books of the series in one handy volume. Uncle John's Legendary Lost bathroom Reader contains books 5-7 in one volume. Between these two cheap volumes you have the first 7 books of the series and a lot of great material to catch up on. The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader has content taken from books 1-7. There are also 150 new pages of content in this book, which makes it worth owning for the completist.
The next 12 books of the series are solid, for the most part, as individual books, averaging around 500 pages each. In chronological order they are: (Uncle John's _________ Bathroom Reader) Ultimate, Giant 10th Anniversary, Great Big, Absolutely Absorbing, All-Purpose Extra Strength, Supremely Satisfying, Ahh-Inspiring, Unstoppable, Slightly Irregular, Fast-Acting Long-Lasting, Curiously Compelling, and Triumphant 20th Anniversary. All recommended!