Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Listy List of Lists

Blarney Stone Blog at www.literarykiss.com: the listy list of lists

At my real job we keep a master list of lists that we call the Listy List, where we keep track of all the other lists we make. In theory, that is. In practice, we just scrawl stuff on the LL, giggle over the name, and forget about it until we have something new to add.  

Nik’s post about list books ("Forgettable Facts and Loathsome Lists") had me in tears. Forget the zombie invasion, these f^&#ers are everywhere, especially recently! Department stores, convenience stores, bookshops, and apparently under Nik’s Christmas tree. 

My sister, for one, absolutely loves them. Since the chance of her reading this blog is next to nil, I’ll go ahead and share some of her recent gifts to me:

Bizarre Books (Russell Ash and Brian Lake). A list of well, bizarre books. Each entry contains the title, author, publishing info, and in some cases, a 5-10 word description. Here are a few entries, selected scientifically by opening the book at random and jabbing my finger to the page:
- Nuclear War: What’s in it for you? by the Ground Zero War Foundation (available on Amazon for a penny!)
- The Toothbrush: its Use and Abuse by Isador Hirschfield (will set you back nearly $100 on Amazon)
- British Tits by Christopher Perrins (Kindle version available)
So yeah, a little funny. But for 200+ pages? Not so much.

The Stupidest Things Ever Said by Politicians (Ross and Kathryn Petras, bestselling authors of The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said). So a book of dumb crap said by presidents and senators and minor  officials no one’s ever heard of. A couple of examples:
- “You can’t just let nature run wild.” Former governor of Alaska, on his proposal to kill off wolves.
- “I would have made a good pope.” President Richard Nixon.
Humorous enough in small doses, but loses something after a very short while.

Biggest Secrets (William Poundstone). From the front cover, “Uncensored truth about all sorts of stuff you are never supposed to know.” Until now, apparently. Opening and jabbing a page at random, we find the secrets to:
- Oscar Mayer olive loaf: It's a loaf, with olives. Shhh.... 
- Hospital code words: Code red 123 means the room is on fire. So do the shooting flames and ear-splitting alarms. 
- The formula for play-doh. Would actually be interesting if they included the formula, but they don't. Only the ingredients are listed - save your penny, here they are: water, flour, salt, kerosene, alum, borax, artificial color and fragrance.
Regretsy - Where DIY meets WTF (April Winchell): Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the Regretsy website. It has me in tears more often than not. But what makes it so freaking hilarious, are not just the photos of lame Etsy crafts, but the descriptions that go along with them. And the comments. Both of which are lost in a picture book of ugly homemade stuff. Oh, there’s a witty line here and there, but nothing at all like the website.


1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances (Gardner Hilscox): A bunch of old-timey technical drawings of mechanical devices. Yawn.

As much as I’m not into these types of books, I have to admit that my kids seem to love them. Maybe’s it’s because my sister’s their godmother so some sort of weird genetic-spiritualistic thing, or maybe they just appreciate a quick laugh with a minimal time investment. Of course they also love books with stinky kids and farting fairies, so who knows. To each his own, right?

So tell us, what list books lurk on your shelves?


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