Review: Stuff You Should Know by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant

Title: Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things

Author: Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant with Nils Parker

Published: 24th November 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read December 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

Like most inveterate readers, from childhood I read whatever I could lay my hands on. Not just fiction, I also read the back of cereal boxes, entire encyclopaedia volumes, trivia pursuit game cards, brochures, and my grandparents stash of Reader’s Digest magazines, among other things. This habit exposed me to a rather random selection of nonfiction topics, some of which piqued my interest more than others, and occasionally sent me ‘down a rabbit hole’, an indulgence that was considerably more difficult in the decades before the Internet (yes, I’m old). All of this preamble goes some way to explain my interest in Stuff You Should Know.

Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things originates from the popular podcast of the same name founded by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant in 2008. Admired for their enthusiasm and their sense of humour, the duo indulge their sense of curiosity delving into the weird, fascinating, delightful, or unexpected pieces of any given subject. The book contains new content, though there are often links to previous podcast episodes, so old fans and new readers alike should be satisfied.

It’s fair to say that not everyone will feel they need to know, or care, how Murphy Beds came to be, where the Scotland Yard Crime Museum is, or why Cyanide Pills are so popular among spies, but I found almost all of the random topics explored in Stuff You Should Know to be interesting (I couldn’t care less about Income Tax). Josh and Chuck explore a mix of history, psychology, cultural relevance and trivia germane to each specific subject, complemented with charts, graphs, illustrations and additional asides in a concise yet playful manner.

Whether you are a trivia buff, in need of new conversational topics, a game show hopeful (especially for The Price is Right), or just insatiably curious, Stuff You Should Know will both inform and entertain.

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