031.02 MAT The Concise Guide to Sounding Smart at Parties

Here’s a rule: If you’re going to put together a humorous collection of facts, it should be (a) humorous and (b) not contain unintentional mistakes. Matalon and Woolsey manage to miss the mark on many fronts, with factual errors that were unintended (e.g., saying that Bohemia became part of modern-day Austria) and having humor which is juvenile, repetitive and just plain unfunny. The jokes struck me as the sort of second-rate humor that you might find in a college paper desperate to fill the column inches. What the book had going for it was residing in the 030 shelves, designated “Encyclopedias and Books of Facts” in which category this seemed the most likely candidate for a cover-to-cover reading. I’m beginning to think that the So–Sz volume of the World Book Encyclopedia might have been a better choice.

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