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FREE Magazine Subscription with Purchase of our New Book!

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It's the greatest deal in the history of history books! Our first hardback, The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through History's Best Bits, hits stores later this month and we're so excited that we've teamed up with the fine folks at Amazon.com to give you a special deal. Pre-order the book before October 28th and we'll throw in 6 FREE MONTHS of mental_floss magazine!

Just CLICK HERE to get the deal now.

Of course, with a special this special, you might have questions. Like: Can you add the free subscription to your existing subscription? Can you keep the book but send the subscription to a friend? Are we the nicest magazine ever? The short answer to all of these is yes; longer answers are below. Be sure to order today before the deal disappears"¦

THE FAQ

Can I add the 6-month free subscription to my existing subscription?

Yes! We'll happily tack on 6 free months (3 additional issues) to your current subscription. Once you've bought the book and clicked for the deal at Amazon, you'll be signed up. On November 1st, you'll get an e-mail from Amazon with a special code to redeem your 6-month subscription.  Simply make sure that you enter your name and address EXACTLY as it appears on your magazine's mailing label, and it will get added to your current subscription.

Can I keep the book, but send the subscription to a friend, or vice versa?

Yes! Amazon makes this easy. Simply send the book wherever you'd like (keep it, or send it to someone else). Then, once Amazon mails you the special code, just specify where you'd like to send the subscription. If you want to send it to a friend, feel free. If you'd like to hoard both, you're more than welcome to do that, too.

Can I see inside this book?

Yes! HarperCollins is making it simple. Just click here to get a sneak peek.

Does this free magazine deal apply only to U.S. subscriptions?

Yes. Unfortunately, we can only send the free subscriptions to addresses within the United States.

Does this deal really end on October 28th?

Sadly, yes. This whopper of a deal only applies to pre-orders.

Do you have any History of the World content at mentalfloss.com for me to peruse?

Yes! Every day in October we'll be highlighting fascinating content from the book and creating fun quizzes to help you love history as much as we do. Just look for it here.

Is mental_floss magazine really that good?

Picture 5.pngYes! Newsweek calls it "A smart (-alecky) read." The Washington Post calls it "delightfully eccentric and eclectic." And it's been praised everywhere from the LA Times to the Wall Street Journal. This year we've tackled How to Get into Heaven (a travel guide for the afterlives of various religions), The Secret Lives of Presidents (who knew that Nixon proposed to his wife on their first meeting, then drove her around on dates with other people for the next few years?), and The Search for the Next Einstein (mind-blowing inventions from the world's best scientists). And all that's coupled with fascinating science stories, incredible bios, evocative arts features, and a spinning the globe section that's chock full of lush photos and vivid travel stories. If you love to learn, this magazine's made for you.

And if I have other questions?

Yes, we figured you might! Just write us at sixmonthsfree@mentalfloss.com, and we'll get right back to you.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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