Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
When I was a kid, I got a big kick out of reading "Ripley's Believe it or Not" books. Published annually, they are collections of odd-but-true short stories and strange facts. My children show the same affection for "The Guinness Book of World Records." I'm waiting until they're of legal drinking age to tell them that the wise folks at Irish brewers Guinness, tired of 196 year's of bar brawls over who the tallest man was and if he was married to the world's tallest woman, published the first guide in 1955.
"You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News" (2011) takes amazing, verified stories, a la Ripley's and Guinness; adds the erudite snarkiness of the satirical news "The Onion;" throws in the profanity of a World War II drill instructor; and makes lists. Grammatically correct, advanced vocabulary, easily read/listened to, funny lists. If I was trying to get a teenager interested in science, I'd hand over this book - but only after making sure the kid's parents were okay with their kid reading/listening to frequent references to sex and drugs (the references are completely apropos).
One of my favorite lists is, "The Six Most Terrifying Foods in the World" (Chapter 13 on Audible). I admit that's because I grew up eating Number 3, lutefisk, as a special treat at Christmas. The winter holidays were the only time you could find it at Lund's on Lake in Uptown Minneapolis. These days, Ikea carries it in the grocery section, in glass jars. I've never seen it on the otherwise true-to-Scandinavia, incredibly easy Christmas dinner that makes your Dad with Swedish grandparents happy. Who has time to make ostakaka anyway? Only folks who spend their time making the delicious cross between pudding and cheesecake, often served with Lingonberries, instead of putting together your new dresser or kitchen table.
Back to the lutefisk - it's in glass jars and served with wooden toothpicks because it's cod cured in lye. Yes, lye. I didn't realize how strange that really was until I listened to Cracked.com's "You Might be a Zombie". Other great chapters: "Five Ways Your Brain is Messing with Your Head" (Audible Chapter 21); "Five Stories the Media Doesn't Want You to Know About" (Audible Chapter 28); and "Four Great Women Buried by their Boobs" (Audible Chapter 32). The 'boobs list' alone could make four separate books. In fact, I've already read one of them, Brenda Maddox" "Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA" (2012).
Each chapter is 7 to 10 minutes long, the perfect length for a quick trip to the grocery store and back. Johnny Heller narrates. Heller, in this narration, is an audio doppelgänger of actor Martin Sheen. He was so close, I checked to make sure Heller wasn't a nom de oratorio for Sheen or his sons. Heller isn't, and he's narrated several other books I've loved. The only reason I'm not giving the narration a "5" is that I know some of the non-English words were mispronounced. I think we'd all be happier if I didn't know that.
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