book-corner
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The Blogger Abides: Words and Phrases I've Misused
Good news, everyone! I wrote a book! It's called The Blogger Abides, and it's based on my experience writing for Mental Floss and other publications over the years. Longtime readers of this blog will recognize the book as a very Flossy affair: it includes a lengthy foreword by Ransom Riggs, and it was edited by Adrienne Crezo.  Have you ever wondered what it's like to interview famous people who are intimidatingly awesome and/or rude? Have you asked yourself, "Do bloggers wear pants?" Have you... READ ON
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The Late Movies: Ray Bradbury, Interviewed
Today we learned that we had lost Ray Bradbury. Tonight, let's listen to the author speak about his life and career. If you watch nothing else in this list, scroll down and pick one of the short clips from 1968 -- they're all terrific. On Books, Literacy, and Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury interviewed in a short film for the National Endowment for the Arts. This is all about the library. Sample quote: "We should learn from history about the destruction of books. When I was 15 years old, Hitler... READ ON
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John Green and Ransom Riggs: Best Sellers Together at Last
mental_floss has a talent for producing spectacularly successful writers. And no, I'm not just talking about my own immense wealth and power*. No, dear readers, I'm referring to Ransom Riggs and John Green, two mental_floss writers who currently hold the #2 and #1 spots respectively on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Because they're both writing for a Young Adult audience, their particular list is "Children's Chapter Books" (how quaint), and Ransom's haunting book Miss Peregrine's Home for... READ ON
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Lendle: A Book Sharing Site for Kindle Users
I recently bought a Kindle -- something I swore I'd never do. There were so many reasons I didn't want one: I already owned too many print books I hadn't read; the screen was kind of crappy; Kindle books were too expensive; the device itself was expensive; and, perhaps most troubling -- buying a Kindle felt like giving up on the publishing industry as I've known it. The worst part of the ebook model offered by Amazon was the inability to have the same kind of ownership over an ebook that I have over a... READ ON
Article
THAT IS ALL, John Hodgman's Final Book of Complete World Knowledge
Photo by Brantley Gutierrez. John Hodgman's third and final book of complete world knowledge, That is All, hits bookstore shelves today, 11/1/11. I hope you'll buy a copy, because you'll need it when Ragnarok occurs. Oh, You Haven't Heard of Ragnarok? That is All is predicated on the premise (ahem, CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE) that, starting quite soon, we will enter a pre-apocalyptic period leading up to the end of the world, or to be more specific, Hodgman's "COMING TOTAL ULTRACOLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION... READ ON
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The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
Julia Suits has assembled a book filled with ads for real prank machines used in fraternal lodges in the early part of the 20th century, complete with an introduction by David Copperfield. This volume is extremely appropriate for readers of mental_floss, as it's full of trivia on weird inventions, the history of pranks, and a very special form of Americana. The book is bizarre and hilariously perverse, packed with clippings from catalogs sent to the high muckety-mucks at the Modern Woodmen of America,... READ ON
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The Late Movies: Book Trailers, This Year's Winners and Losers
The same week I enjoyed Ransom's beautiful book trailer, I heard about the Moby Awards -- which, in addition to recognizing great book trailers, points out awful book trailers. Below, I've collected some winners...and losers. I'll be curious to see whether Ransom gets a nod next year! Worst Performance By An Author Jonathan Franzen: "This might be a good place for me to register my profound discomfort at having to make videos like this, since, to me, the point of a novel is to take you to a... READ ON
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Vonnegut's Letter to His Family About His Imprisonment in Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s most famous novel is Slaughterhouse-Five. You may have read it -- it's taught in many high school English classes in the U.S., though in others it has been banned. So it goes. Anyway, Slaughterhouse-Five is partially autobiographical; it's based partly on Vonnegut's experiences as a Prisoner of War in World War II, when he and other POWs were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse meat locker in Dresden in 1944, Germany. By day, they worked in labor camps; at night they slept... READ ON
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Book Corner: x + y = death2
I had no idea there was so much drama wrapped up in the evolution of algebra. For instance, did you know that George Boole, who invented algebraic ways to express logical arguments, died after his wife threw buckets of ice-water on him to "“ get this "“ treat a chill! Then there was the French mathematician, Evariste Galois, who became famous for his work on the algebraic structure of solutions, but only 10 years after his death. How'd the 20-year-old mathematician die? In a pistol duel,... READ ON
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Book Corner: the end of dog-ears?
There was an interesting piece in The Economist a couple weeks back about digitized books. As you probably know, Google has been scanning books and putting them on this corner of their site. But what you probably didn't know is that they're doing this at a rate of something approaching 3000 books a day or 10 million a year. Apparently there are approximately 65 million books in the universe right now, which means the whole job might be done before the icebergs melt completely and... READ ON
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Book Corner: The Yale Book of Quotations
Yale University Press puts out damn good books. You probably know this already as I'm sure some of you are the proud owners of Eugene O'Neill's, Long Day's Journey into Night, or Nicholas Murray's fresh biography of Kafka, or The Yale Pelican History of Art. Well, they've gone and done it again with The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Fred R. Shapiro. With more than 12,000 well-known quotations, this 1000-page tome is a snappy, welcome addition to any... READ ON
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Book Corner: What They Didn't Say
There's a new book coming out that seems right up our alley and it's all about how some of the more famous one-liners are actually erroneous. Written by Oxford Dictionary of Quotations editor, Elizabeth Knowles, What They Didn't Say is due out next month from Oxford University Press. You've heard the old "To fresh fields and pastures new"? But did you know the original lyric, from Milton's poem of 1637, "Lycidas" is actually "To-morrow to fresh... READ ON
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Book Corner: What We Believe But Cannot Prove
We spend so much time plugging our own smart books here at mental_floss (did you get a copy of our latest yet?), sometimes we neglect to tell you about some others you might want to wrap your eyes around. So here's one that sounds like it has something for everyone called, What We Believe But Cannot Prove, put together by Edge.org editor, John Brockman. It started as a post up on his website, a challenge to intellectuals to confess personal theories they couldn't demonstrate with... READ ON

Jack Webb, star of radio and television's Dragnet, was so closely associated with the part of Joe Friday that when Webb died in 1982, the Los Angeles Police Department officially retired Friday's badge number, 714.

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