Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Answers & Advertising

Can a Guy Get Pregnant? Scientific Answers to Everyday (& Not-So-Everyday) Questions by Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D. - The Sones brothers write a syndicated column called "Strange But True" which is similar to Cecil Adams' "The Straight Dope". I read a lot of books like this because the format is ideal for reading aloud to my wife as she gets ready for work (a few questions/pages per day). Having sampled this very uneven category, I can say that Can a Guy Get Pregnant? is far better than most. Instead of providing trite responses or mealy-mouthed ramblings, the Sones brothers consult and quote experts to get their answers. The only weak portion of the book is the section about love. Those questions just aren't as scientifically explainable as those about the body, death, and animals. Regardless, if you like this sort of book, Can a Guy Get Pregnant? is one of the best (don't confuse it with Why Do Men Have Nipples?, which is more popular but inferior).

Selling It: The Incredible Shrinking Package and Other Marvels of Modern Marketing by Leslie Ware - The inside back cover of Consumer Reports is my favorite part of the magazine. Each month, the editors put together a page of perplexing advertising and packaging. Examples include garbled English, misleading promises, and oddities like a photograph of a rose bush that appears in several catalogs, each time illustrating a different variety of rose. I was quite excited to buy a compilation of such items, yet this book took seven years to finish. The entries are like bacon -- it tastes great as a garnish, but one can't eat it all the time (and I've tried; eventually the salt and grease overwhelm). Each time I picked up Selling It, I read 5-10 pages, got tired of it, and moved on to something else. Ware's chapter introductions provide some basic consumer education in bullshit detection, but the examples are the best part... even if they don't read well in one sitting.

Current tally: 81 books finished, 69 books acquired

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