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Book of Answers: The New York Public Library Telephone Reference Service's Most Unusual and Enter Paperback – April 9, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0671761929 ISBN-10: 0671761927 Edition: Fireside ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Fireside ed edition (April 9, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671761927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671761929
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,669,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

What do NYPL librarians do with the most popular, peculiar, and humorous questions asked over a 20-year period? Find the answers, organize them into 27 subject areas, compile a 1300-term index, and publish it all in a book, of course. The result has enough whos, whens, wheres, whats, and whys to drive even the most dedicated trivia buff mad. (Who invented the brassiere? What is the longest recorded attack of hiccupping? Why are manholes round?) Although sources are not cited, the introductory material notes that each answer is based on documentation in the library's extensive collection. Use the New York Public Library Desk Refer ence ( LJ 7/89) as a primary reference source; purchase this for its entertainment value, or as a gift for the reference librarian who has everything.
- Stanley P. Hodge, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Barbara Beruner has headed the New York Public Library's Telephone Reference Service since 1986. She and her staff of ten reference librarians are based in the Library's Mid-Manhattan Branch. Meunda Corey and George Ochoa are the authors of The Man in Lincoln's Nose: Funny, Profound, and Quotable Quotes of Screenwriters, Movie Stars, and Moguls and several other books. Ms. Corey is the coauthor of The Official Couch Potato Cookbook.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Loren D. Morrison on April 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Calling the reference desk at your public library has always been one of the quickest and easiest ways to get a question answered or a bit of research done. Questions asked range from the serious to the ludicrous, but, almost without exception, they get answered. Barbara Berliner, head of the New York Library's Telephone Reference Service since 1986 has compiled a list of some of the more interesting questions and answers from this period. The result of this effort is THE BOOK OF ANSWERS.
THE BOOK OF ANSWERS is another of those books that can best be reviewed by citing some of the questions and answers that make up the text. The librarians' ability to answer some of the questions asked makes one wonder how they are able to do so.
Here are just a few examples.
When asked about the most unlikely mating between dogs, Ms. Berliner and her staff came up with a mating between a male Dachshund and a female Great Dane. The resulting litter contained 13 "Great Dachshunds" who were distinguished by their short legs and large heads.
For "Lucy" fans: "I Love Lucy" ran for 6 seasons from 1951 to 1957.
A bit of baseball trivia: The first fine in baseball was levied on June 19, 1846 in the amount of 6 cents for swearing at an umpire.
More trivia: Of all the known animal species, only pigs and human beings get sunburned.
For convenience, the book is broken up into 27 categories which even include one of trick questions such as: "Where in the Bible does it say that cleanliness is next to godliness?" The short answer is "Nowhere."
There are lots of questions and answers on serious subjects such as history, culture, language, fine arts, etc. THE BOOK OF ANSWERS is ideal for flipping open to any page at random and finding some interesting bit of trivia. What fun!
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dave (wworx@waterworx.com) on June 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is a real lifesaver. I'm not a geek, but I wil often refer to one or two items before going to a party or family gathering. The true facts in this book really blow people's minds. I especially like the fact that the only 2 manmade objects visible from space are the Chinese Wall and the Fresh Kills landfill in NY.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is fun and informative. There are some interesting questions and excellent answers in here. There is a previous reviewer who may have some issues so let me clarify. This book is not for people who are terribly uneducated. This book is for people who question things and would like to find the answers in an easy to read format. In short, it is not for the ignorant but for the curious.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By amy on December 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
As a reference librarian, it's always fun to have confirmation that other libraries get strange questions. This is a fun compendium of popular and not-so-popular questions.
That said, I am more than slightly disturbed that they do not cite their sources. I'm not saying that I doubt the answers that are given, it's just unusual that they're not not saying where the answers came from....
But it's still a fun book.
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Format: Paperback
I opened to a random pgae today and read one of the "answers" today and noticed that it was competely and utterly wrong.

Question: What are the five largest lakes? (p.81)

Their answer: (I have added stats about the lakes in parentheses, first number is area, second is volume):

1. Caspian Sea (143,000 sq mi; 18,800 cu mi)

2. Lake Superior (31,820 sq mi; 2,900 cu mi)

3. Lake Victoria (26,828 sq mi; 660 cu mi)

4. Aral Sea (this is no longer a continuous body of water and hasn't been since 1960... It has dried up and is now 3 seperate lakes. There is an ongoing effort to replenish it via a dam, but still, this is a horrendous oversight. Anyway, in 1960, the lake had an area of 26,000 square miles and a volume of 260 cubic miles. It is now approximately 10% of its previous size.)

5. Lake Huron (Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are technically one body of water, but the author names Huron as if it is distinct. The last time they were two seperate lakes was in the preiovus ice age - although the ice age versions are known as Lake Stanley and Lake Chippewa. Michigan-Huron has an area of 45,410 sq mi and a volume of 2,029 cubic miles. If you were to count them seperately, dividing them at the Straight of Mackinac, Huron has an area of 23,010 square miles and a volume of 849 cubic miles; while Michigan has an area of 22,400 square miles and a volume of 1,180 cubic miles. So, not only has the author decidied to split up Huron and Michigan, she chose to list the smaller of the two. Seriously?)

OK, so what's wrong with this answer? ROFLOMGBBQ, what's right with it.
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Format: Paperback
The Book of Questions is a collection of offbeat information, i.e. questions that have been asked of the New York Library over the past twenty years. They fall under several different headings, some of which include American History, American Statistics, Animal World, Crime and Criminals, Fine Arts, The First, Geography, Human Body, Literature, Myth and Folklore, Pop Culture, Odds and Ends, Science and Sports. Some of the questions are serious, some quite odd, some relevant, some not so relevant; all though are absolutely interesting.

The book is set up in a question and answer format and is a work that any true lover of trivia will drool over. From the origin of words to the speed various animals travel to the history of our culture, it is all covered. Many of the questions are amusing but all will educate. This is not a book that you would want or need as a reference book as the questions are too scattered, and let's face it, you can find the answer to most of these inquiries almost instantly via your computer these days. This is a nice book to having lying around to browse through in those off moments when you have the time. Simply put, this is a fun book to own.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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