Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable But True Stories

A sabre toothed squirrel? Deadly blobs of slime in the ocean? Frogs as big as house cats?
It seems that most people can't get enough of bizarre facts and stories.

National Geographic has just published a collection of stories taken from their Daily Weird News webpage. You'll find over 100 stories in the book featuring things like frogs with fangs, wasps that can recognize faces and preserved brains. Some of them document specific events, such as the finding of headless skeletons in the UK, while others explore natural phenomena, sink holes and UFO shaped clouds. Each entry is just a couple pages long and provide facts, background and possible scientific explanations. You'll also find photos and little fact boxes featuring interesting "truths" related to each story (e.g. "people have taste receptors in their lungs").

Though most of the stories are not as shocking as those in Ripley's Believe it or Not books, most of them are strange enough to keep the reader interested. I also like the discussion of the science behind the stories -- accessible and concise. 

My only complaint is that the book could use some colour (photos and text are all black and white) and some better quality paper (it's pretty much newsprint). National Geographic's Weird But True series for kids is much more aesthetically appealing with all it's coloured images and test in many fonts and sizes. The kids' series of course, basically consists only of one sentence factoids which makes it easy to include so many images, but I do think some of this style could have been used in this new book.

All in all, Tales of the Weird is a fun read... and I even found out why the end of the world didn't happen December 31, 2012...
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