Review

Because I Said So! by Ken Jennings

because-i-said-so“’Ken Jennings reveals the truth behind all those things you tell your children’ (Parade) in this entertaining and useful New York Times bestseller ‘armed with case histories, scientific finds, and experiments on himself and his own children’ (Los Angeles Times).

Is any of it true? If so, how true? Ken Jennings wants to find out if parents always know best. Yes, all those years you were told not to sit too close to the television or swallow your gum or crack your knuckles are called into question by our country’s leading trivia guru. Jennings separates myth from fact to debunk a wide variety of parental edicts: no swimming after meals, sit up straight, don’t talk to strangers, and so on.

Armed with medical case histories, scientific findings, and even the occasional experiment on himself (or his kids), Jennings exposes countless examples of parental wisdom run amok. Whether you’re a parent plagued by needless concern or a kid (of any age) looking to say, ‘I told you so,’ this is the anti– helicopter parenting book you’ve been waiting for.”

This is the second book by Jennings that I’ve read, and I think I prefer the other one, Maphead.  Basically, I think that the author excels at his subjects more when he has the space to go into depth about things.  In this book, he never exceeds a couple of pages about any given saying or bit of folk wisdom.  While there may not be much to say about each one individually, he does group them loosely by subject.  I wonder what it would have been like if he had tied the sayings in each group together into a narrative.

There was some interesting information in here, and as many have noted, this is like a text version of Snopes.com or the TV show Mythbusters.  Jennings puts in a lot of detail about the research he did into each saying and whether or not he could find evidence to support it.  The thing is, the majority of these sayings fall into the categories of “possibly true” or “likely false” without any real definitive answers forthcoming.  That may be the nature of what he actually found out, but I guess I would have liked him to come down more firmly on one side of the other on the bulk of what he wrote about.

This all isn’t to say that this is a bad book, by any means.  I rather enjoyed it.  Taken as a font of informational snippets, it’s exactly as advertised.  Perhaps I’m just getting spoiled by the science/language books that manage to cleverly tie things together in unexpected ways, and this more straightforward approach feels a little too fragmented now.  Personal taste on my part, to be sure.  If you’re looking for some quick bites of facts and small nibbles of information, this is the book for you.  If you want more satisfying fare, this might not sate your appetite.

This book was borrowed from the Yolo County Public Library, Davis branch.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

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