Books offer break from indifference to info

A World of Curiosities by John Oldale c.2012, Plume $16./$17 Canada 300 pages

This week's read

A World of Curiosities by John Oldale c.2012, Plume $16./$17 Canada 300 pages

The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva by David Haviland c.2012, Tarcher / Penguin $14.95/$16 Canada 336 pages

Your noggin is plumb full.

You’ve got appointments crammed there, as well as directions, grocery lists, kids’ schedules, weekend plans, and to-dos.

Your head is your calendar but it’s also full of useless things: your junior high locker combination, a jingle from 1980, a recipe for skyhigh-calorie brownies, Great-Grandma’s phone number, and the name of every pet you ever had.

In order.

So why not try to replace the needless noggin-info with something you can actually use to impress your friends, wile away the time, or win a bar bet? Why not put A World of Curiosities by John Oldale and The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva by David Haviland on your shelf?

So life is a little packed, and it’s all you can do to keep things straight most days. But just think: it could be worse. Refreshments could be made with cow urine (from India). Your kids could be Saligoman (“dirty brats,” a name for urchins in Rwanda), or you could’ve been born in Swaziland, where you would’ve been a “nonperson” until you were three months old.

Speaking of “nonpersons,” you’ve also got to remember appointments for that mid-sized dog-like creature (and be glad it’s not a Tasmanian devil). Rejoice, while you’re at it, that you don’t have a farting gorilla (Rwanda) or a fat-tailed sheep (Syria). Be happy Fido is no unicorn (originally from Pakistan).

And then there’s work: some days, it’s practically like World War I (which was not the first World War, according to Churchill). You’d swear your cubemate descends from Genghis Khan (16 million men do).

Working with him is like being in a minefield (be prepared to escape one of those) and you’re really glad Prohibition is over (although public drunkenness rates went up then).

Maybe you need a vacation. Maybe you should go north (Canadians are the most-liked people on Earth). Maybe you should move to Ghana (where they custom-make coffins). But before you go, check your suitcase for surprises. Roger Mortimer’s wife and Lady Raleigh could explain why…

Admit it: sometimes, novels are good but there are times when you want to read something that won’t make you think too hard. Enter The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva and A World of Curiosities.

Author David Haviland’s book is a little bit more in-depth than many of this type. Still, each of the chapters are short enough to read in 10 minutes or less and interesting enough to make you want to read more on the topic at hand.

Browsing author John Oldale’s offering is exactly what you’ll want to do when you pick it up. His book takes you on a worldwide look at history, customs, and quirks in other countries and since the bits are bite-sized, you can customize your read-time.

I love things like this for summertime and I’m pretty sure you will, too. Even if your noggin is already packed with nuggets like these, The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva and A World of Curiosities are both books to wrap your brain around.

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