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Terri Schlichenmeyer

‘Experimenting with Babies,’ ‘10 Things You Might Not Know About Nearly Everything’ and ‘1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off’

So whaddaya know?

Probably quite a bit, when it comes right down to it. You know where you are, what’s in front of you, and how to read these words, for starters.

You know what it’s like outside, what you had for breakfast, and what you did last night. But do you know about Jimmy Carter’s gaffe, or Desi Arnaz’s huge near-mistake, or how a baby will react to a spinning toy? These are things you’ll learn when you’ve got three new trivia books in front of you.

First of all, if there’s a wee one in your family this year or if someone with an infant is visiting, you’ll want to read “Experimenting with Babies” by Shaun Gallagher.

Though the title may seem tongue-in-cheek, this book offers up 50 (very safe) activities you can do with a very young child, all of which will teach you a little bit of science, a little bit of physiology and a lot about how babies develop. You’ll see how motor skills begin, how preferences emerge, what babies know, what researchers are just starting to understand, and how it all relates to the health of a baby.

Best of all, you’ll have a lot of interesting fun with a small child. Babysitting, anyone?

Next, you’ll never again feel like a dummy at any classroom or party once you’ve read “10 Things You Might Not Know About Nearly Everything” by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.

Through dozens of 10-Lists, you’ll learn about oddball things like hair and elephants. You’ll see how a Wyoming desperado walked around after he died. You’ll find out what lies beneath Detroit. You’ll discover which city’s resident diners are the best tippers. You’ll be glad you weren’t a royal newlywed in the 18th century. You’ll learn about running, football and stadiums. And you’ll find out a lot of cool trivia about Chicago because, after all, the authors work at a newspaper there.

And finally, if you’re a bounce-around-and-browse kind of reader, then “1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off” by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin was practically written for you.

With this book in your mitts, you’ll find out what simple thing Elizabeth Taylor didn’t know how to do. You’ll read about Richard Nixon’s college insecurity. You’ll learn Fidel Castro’s time-saving secret. You’ll see what other book L. Frank Baum published 113 years ago (hint: it’s about as far from Oz as you can get). You’ll discover the interesting meanings of “smellsmock,” “gymnophoria,” “engastration,” “gongoozler,” “chork” and “gynotikilobomassophile.” You’ll find out what cocaine does to your heart. And you’ll be very thankful that you’re not a tiger shark embryo or the wife of Zeus.

I love books like this because they’re great fun and easy to enjoy. With these three books, you will asolare for hours. Time with them will be autotelic, and you’ll dazzle everyone with your brilliance. Yes, there are other trivia books out there, but these are three of the best and you can’t live without them – you know?

Terri Schlichenmeyer is a book reviewer from West Salem, Wis. She may be contacted at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.