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on January 19, 2006
I am the author of the book in question, and I am concerned by the report here regarding multiple, unwanted mailings on my behalf.

I have a small mailing list to whom I sent a weekly update about my book during the fall. Those updates have now ceased, though they may resume in the future. Membership on this list is voluntarily and frequently discouraged by me in order to avoid fraying readers' nerves as little as possible.

If you feel you have received spam in my name, please feel free to contact me via my website. So as not to seem wholly crass, I will not list the URL here, though you can figure it out, I trust. Once you are there, simply click on the words "John Hodgman" and then "desperate."

I would be glad to investigate this matter and resolve it if I can. I also have some excellent investment opportunities and low rate mortgages on prescription drugs that I am sure you will want to hear about.

Sorry to briefly commandeer these reviews for this matter. It is cheesy, I realize, to give my own book five stars; but I am not going to give it zero stars on principle, because despite what you may have heard, I do not loathe myself quite that much yet.

I apologize for the interruption. End transmission.

That is all.
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on November 2, 2005
That last couple days, during some quiet moments, I have picked up this book and read a few pages. Within moments my 5 year old is asking me "Why are laughing?" I don't usually laugh out loud during books or movies. I'm more of a quietly reflecting in the back of my brain "that was amusing" kind of guy. But this book is amazingly funny.
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on November 7, 2005
Hodgman's contributions to McSweeney's led me to this book, and THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE is almost entirely without disappointment. This isn't a book to read straight through, in a week; it's a book to sample from all year long. This is the sort of collection of stories and musings and articles that's best kept nearby to be accessed when the mood strikes.

The style here is vaulted, relaxed, and perfectly ridiculous all at the same time. Some authors have imagination, some have language, and Hodgman has both, in excess.
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on November 16, 2005
You know those rare moments when you are reading a book and something strikes you as stunningly hilarious? From out of nowhere? And then you have to put down the book for awhile because you are secretly afraid you have just read the funniest thing you will ever read so what is the point of continuing to read anything again ever? Well this book is that book. And that phenomenon occurs several times throughout it. All hail John Hodgman and the h in sunrays!
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"An almanac of random, fascinating and utterly unreliable information -- Hodgman has the gift of being outrageously but quietly convincing. He begins at the absolute outer edge of credibility and, as if he is holding your hand, walks you over the edge into a very funny mix of reality and nonsense. Take hobos, for instance -- or as Hodgman refers to it, the "hobo movement in the United States." He discusses at length hobo hieroglyphics, the only hobo Cabinet member in U.S. history and Walker Evans, who Hodgman describes as being a secret agent posing as a photographer in order to assassinate prominent hobo leaders." NPR

John Hodgman tells us that there has only been one murder in the history of the space shuttle. This took place in 1984. The astronaut, the planner, the engineer, the cocktail waitress and the librarian were all suspects. I cannot tell you who did commit the murder, but it is well known. He discusses hunting and cooking your own polar bear steaks. Julia Child knew this subject well. Also a chapter on Daves Ultra Hot Hot Hot Sauce-which are packaged in little coffins and promises your death. These little known and untrue facts are yours for the asking. These and so many other subjects that would take me all day to discuss are told in amazing detail by John Hodgman. Each chapter has its own charm, or well, its own place.

This is not a book for children. There are obscene words and stories and facts that children would not understand. In fact, there were some parts of this book I did not understand, but, all in all, it had me in stitches from one chapter to the next. The author works for television "The Daily Show' and appears on NPR"s "This American Life". John Hodgman is a graduate of Yale, and is a former literary agent. It appears he was so humorous that he needed to take his humor to an audience who would appreciate him. This book is so amusing you may not be able to read it in one sitting; less you disable yourself from being doubled-over with laughter.

"And while Hodgman may hope as we leaf through the pages, we will gain a better understanding of the world - "perhaps not the world exactly as it is today, but as it may be someday" - one will undoubtedly come away baffled by how such madness can be spun so clear-headedly. Perhaps, though, the only way to truly describe "The Areas of My Expertise" lies in Hodgman's final words: that is all. " Book Review

For those of you who appreciate humour- highly recommended. prisrob 10-21-06
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on November 19, 2005
It is difficult to describe exactly why this book of parody is so good, so suffice to say, you have to read it to understand why Hodgman is so funny. It is great to read something that doesn't take itself seriously at all, and freely admits it is all for the humor. Check it out, you'll be laughing a week after yo finish recalling some of the topics skewered by Hodgman.
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on November 1, 2006
I realize that reviews are wholly based on interpretation and opinion and I respect that. But I don't get people who don't like this book. No offense. That being said (or written, in this case), I loved this book. I found it entertaining, odd and hugely funny and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh. My grandmother wouldn't get this humor, so if you're her, don't buy it. Everyone else--go for it.
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on August 1, 2006
John Hodgman blew me away--with the power of laughter.

Of course, you have to be in a quirky mood to appreciate his humor. If you are feeling serious, most of his writing will just appear stupid. But, if you want to be humored, much of his writing is full of quirky remarks, with both clear-cut humor, and more hidden gems you may have to reread to really start laughing.

And as Hodgman says himself, the list of hobo names really does make the book more than worth it's pricetag.

A worthy addition to any library containing: America: The Book, Real Ultimate Power, or The Best Case Scenario guidebook.
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on December 3, 2005
Damn, this book is funny. I don't usually like "funny" books, and I rarely laugh aloud reading them even if I do like them. But Hodgman made me guffaw like an idiot every couple of pages. And his explanation of "THE VENGEFUL NINJAS" con kept me chuckling until my sides hurt and tears rolled down my face.

This book is nothing more than John Hodgman rambling about various subjects in absurd and illogical detail. As a narrator, he never wavers in his telling as if these are all facts you should know, and it's that straight delivery that pushes it into genius. I don't know how a book can have deadpan delivery, and it boggles my mind to even say that. But it's true.

Just remember: Beware the red squirrels who carry the secrets of the hoboes.
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Those who feel compelled to give this book merely one star simply do not understand the humor. The argue, rather futilely, that the book "has no point." What they do not understand is that that is exactly the point.

What John Hodgman gives us is a compendium of faux-knowledge. From furry lobsters to lycanthropic transformation, the book provides completely false information about nothing in particular, which is what makes it so spectacular.

Honestly, how can one not suppress a laugh when reading an entire article dedicated to the "fact" that Chicago is a myth, or seeing that "Dora the Explorer" is one of 700 listed hobo names?

The dust jacket alone shows one the type of sense of humor that John Hodgman has. Perhaps it is a slightly obscure one, only appreciated by a some. Nevertheless, it is quite brilliant in my opinion. I suggest reading the dust jacket, as it really gives insight into the style of the book as well as its subject (that is to say, nothing).

Overall, this book is quite genius. John Hodgman's dry, deadpan delivery makes reading it completely worthwhile. In fact, re-reading it twice, thice, or incessantly for the rest of your life mightn't be a bad idea.

For the record, I've lent this book to three friends of mine, and they all loved it as well.

After all, who can't admire a book which lists Missouri's nickname as "The Show Me State, The Prove It State, The Give Me Your Goddamn Thesis State"?
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