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Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing: Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a ... Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion Paperback – March 17, 2009

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Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing: Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a ... Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion + Mental Floss Presents Condensed Knowledge: A Deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again + mental floss presents Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur met as freshmen at Duke University, where they parlayed their cafeteria conversations into the first issue of mental_floss. magazine They have collaborated on more than ten books together, including Condensed Knowledge, Forbidden Knowledge, and The mental_floss History of the World.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 Original edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061251488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061251481
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Who is Maggie Koerth-Baker?

* Science editor at BoingBoing.net, one of the most-read blogs in the United States with millions of monthly readers.

* Freelance science journalist whose work has appeared in magazines like Discover, Popular Science, and New Scientist, and on websites like Scientific American and National Geographic News.

* Author of two books: Be Amazing, a tongue-in-cheek self-improvement guide written with the publishers of mental_floss magazine; and Before the Lights Go Out, her new book about how our energy systems were built, how they work today, and how they will influence what we can and can't do over the next 30 years.

* Public speaker who has given talks about the neurobiology of octopuses, what scientists can learn from science journalists, why the future of energy might be a little boring, and more. Currently touring the United States talking about the past, present, and future of America's electric infrastructure. Check out www.maggiekb.com/books page for a regularly updated schedule.

Contact Maggie at maggie@maggiekb.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Paradox on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I most definitely don't regret purchasing this book, albeit for the wrong reasons (free t-shirt). This book was funny and informative to say the least, but it is not a how-to or self-help, which I was led to believe. I don't know how other Mental Floss books are (so maybe I could have known what to expect), but I can imagine they are just like this one: an amusing facts book.

This book has great and wonderfully random facts and info (mainly historical), like how to get out of jury duty (one of the few useful facts), or the real deal behind ninjas (WARNING: if you love ninjas, this might be a little too informative), or even how to get out of quicksand (another rare useful tid-bit). I would recommend it as a bathroom or coffee table book, but that is not to say it was poor quality. Just a very light (-hearted) read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Russell on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was purchased for someone who was recovering from cancer surgery. It is a great "get well" gift because it is a bit unusal and brings a smile to your face just reading the cover. I told her I wanted her to use this healing time constructively - learning to make herself invisible, to glow in the dark, and to start her own religion and such. :)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer A. Dunaway on April 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Informative and funny. I was worried it would be stuff I've already read from the magazines and other books but it is unique. I really enjoy it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reagan Richey on July 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
While I certainly wasn't expecting to learn all the things this book purports to teach, I did at least expect the book to be relatively on-topic. The author clearly wants to hook us with the title and the chapter headings, but what follows in each case is a vaguely-related collection of historical anecdotes that fail to deliver what the title advertises.

Here's one example of the strange pattern which repeats itself over and over again throughout the book: there's a chapter called "impress your in-laws." Sounds like a useful skill, right? The author tells a story about a Japanese rite-of-passage for young adults who are turning twenty that introduces them to society. Very interesting story about a random tidbit of Japanese culture, yes .... BUT ...

... One, this was NOT INSTRUCTIVE, which kind of contradicts the supposed thrust of this book. And two, perhaps more importantly, this has nothing to do with in-laws or even with impressing anybody!

This happens again and again, in more ways than I could cover here.

What it boils down to is, the author knows a lot about history, anthropology, etc. Whatever. She has a lot of random information to impart, she wrapped it in a way that she thought would hook someone reading the title, but didn't care that her packaging is a totally inaccurate representation of the contents of the book, which for my money, is basically dishonesty in advertising.

Now, maybe I'm missing some kind of hip, ironic, non-sequitorial approach to humor that everyone else who found this book through BoingBoing.net understands better than me, but I'm not buying it (except that I did).

Whatever the author's rationale, this book jumps completely off the rails ... into a mildly annoying brand of incoherence.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jasmine Feeney on April 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Be Amazing book is fantastic. It's like one of those teachers from high-school that just knew everything about anything. I haven't finished it yet, but I carry it around with me so whenever I get a few minutes to sit down I can read another section. I've even shared some sections with my friends and they love it too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gina E. Gordon on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Once again, my favorite magazine has produced a witty, interesting read with the added bonus of making me feel smarter. No complaints here.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Author Bill Peschel on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
It takes a lot of work and imagination to be someone other people want to remember for all time. We're not talking about eating-a-lot-of-hot-dogs or profiled-by-People-magazine level of awesomeness. We're talking about being the type of person to the history books for learning to grow meat, becoming a superhero, or ruling with an iron fist.

There are plenty of self-help books out there that teach you about building your self-esteem, but that's nothing compared to learning the secret of time travel (hint: head for the future) or walking on fire (know your physics; ashes make great insulators for your tootsies).

For those who want to become the epitome of awesomness, "Be Amazing" is for you. Written by contributors to the Mental Floss website, it's a lot like Cecil Adams' "Straight Dope" books, which combines questions people really want to know the answers to with the research to back it up, plus ample amounts of humor.

For example, to find the mate of your dreams, "Be Amazing" draws on studies of hormonal behavior showing that women prefer very masculine men (considered unfaithful but hot in bed) to have flings with -- think Christian Bale or Alley Oop -- but marry men with softer features, considered better at childrearing and faithful (think Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp).

In addition, the illustrations by Mike Rogalski take the text and put a twisted spin on them -- such as putting a huge Swiss army knife in the hand of a duelist, dressing a llama in a hazmat suit and dressing Andy Warhol stocking grocery store shelves (with Campbell's soup, natch) -- that adds another level of fun.

As a self-help book, it shouldn't be taken seriously (unless you really do want to learn how to drive a tank, or become an American icon).
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Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing: Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a ... Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion
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