Saturday, January 23, 2010

(Book #3) John Hodgman - More Information Than You Require

For the third week of this little experiment, I decided to change gears once again in the style of book. Having started with Fiction, followed by Philosophy, the next logical step is an almanac of "truthy" factoids, lists and mad ramblings. This week I read 'More Information than You Require' by John Hodgman, formerly a professional literary agent and currently a minor television celebrity ("PC" from the Mac commercials) as he is so want to tell us many times throughout the book. It is not so much a sequel as it is a continuation of his first book 'The Areas of My Expertise', another volume of fake real trivia, or as he likes to call it "complete world knowledge". When I initially picked up the book, I was briefly intimidated by the amount of pages. I immediately wondered if I could make it through nearly 600 pages of madness such as this. Thankfully, I realized that this volume started on page 234 and was a perfectly smooth transition, aside from all those worthless¹ copyright and title pages, from the first volume

The content and manner of writing is what makes this such a tough book to categorize, but a fun book to read. There were many times when I found myself literally laughing out loud (LLOL) to some of the ridiculously nonsensical statements, obscure references and witty blurbs that Hodgman wrote. If I had to place this book anywhere on my shelves, it would likely initially get nestled in the comedy section next to the John Stewart and Stephen Colbert books, but would likely travel around to various other shelves when it felt it was being improperly categorized. Yes, in fact², the book is sentient and has feelings.

In the introduction of his last volume, Hodgman tells the reader that there is no right way to read the book, because the content is so varied. In this second book of complete world knowledge, there are two strains of information running parallel throughout. The first being a more well-informed string of facts³ on a wide range of topics such as Molemen, Presidents (and if they were actually women or had a hook for a hand), how to tell the future using a pig's spleen, and how to become a famous minor television celebrity. The second string of facts were a day by day calendar of all sorts of interesting things that happened on that particular day in history. All 366 days were represented and each page had a respective day. Thankfully these dates were all in order, and I did not have to jump around throughout the book to get the full effect of all these facts. I would surely still be reading if this were the case.

All in all, this was a whimsical read that was entertaining every time I picked it up and certainly lived up to its title, offering the reader more information than they required. Unless, of course, they required a list of 700 noteworthy Molemen, in which case they got just what they bargained for.

1. They were not actually worthless, as Hodgman wrote much information and fake copyright information to frame the book and information contained therein.

2. Unsubstantiated.

3. Many of these facts were often riddled with footnotes and side tracks (just like this!)of additional information that was vital for a well informed reading of the various topics, OR a reference to other passages within the two volumes of complete world knowledge.

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