Useless Information You’ll Never Need

One recent workday, I was browsing the stacks at the Crossroads Branch and the following book caught my eye. The Perfectly Useless Book of Useless Information: You’ll Never Need to Know Anything That’s in This Book…But Read It Anyway was added to the library collection in 2010. Since then, it has enjoyed an active life of 24 checkouts to our patrons. This small paperback has held up well and is still going strong well beyond the typical number of checkouts that publishers manufacture them to do!

This book is part of the New York Times bestselling series authored by Don Voorhees. The series includes The Amazing Book of Useless Information and The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information. What follows is a brief sampling of fun facts and miscellany that I’ve pulled from the text.

  • The word “Taser” is an acronym for Thomas A. Smith’s Electric Rifle, a fictional weapon from Victor Appleton’s 1911 children’s science fiction novel, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.
  • Alex Haley, the bestselling African American author in history, was sued for plagiarizing The African, by Harold Courlander, when writing Roots. After a 1978 trial, Haley made a $650,000 settlement payment to Courlander.
  • Billboard magazine began in Cincinnati in 1896 as a trade paper which covered circuses, carnivals and amusement parks in the early 1900s.
  • Jack London was the first American novelist to earn one million dollars.
  • J.D. Salinger dates Eugene O’Neill’s daughter Oona, who later married Charlie Chaplin.
  • The New Yorker rejected the first seven short stories Salinger sent them.
  • Ernest Hemingway gave himself the nickname “Papa” when he was twenty-seven. After suffering injuries caused by machine gun fire during World War I, he stuffed cigarette butts into his wounds to stop the bleeding.
  • Hemingway committed suicide, as did his father, two siblings and granddaughter Margaux Hemingway.
  • The highest price ever paid for a book was $8.8 million, in 2000, for a bound set of John Audubon’s 1840 work Bird of America.
  • Charles Dickens almost named the sickly child in A Christmas Carol “Puny Pete” or “Small Sam”. The character became known to the world as “Tiny Tim”.
  • Sixty percent of American prison inmates are illiterate.
  • Harry Truman had read all two thousand books in his public library by the time he graduated high school.
  • Accountants get the most headaches of any profession…followed by librarians!

This book contains interesting facts about several other professions and hobbies. Happy Reading!