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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Top 10 of everything

This week’s book, The Top 10 of Everything has a cover which puts it into the top 10 before you even open it. The wildest, optically fascinating “flat” bubbles, which probably will not come out in newsprint’s grey on grey, so just believe me. It is incredible.
Now how many of you remember Pears Cyclopaedia? That was the ‘ultimate’ reference book in the 40’s and 50’s, and is still going today, but The Top 10 of Everything (ISBN 978-0-600-61739-6, Octopus Books UK) must go to the top 10 of today’s ‘pop’ culture cyclopedias.
The contents include The Universe and The Earth, Life on Earth, the Human World, Town and Country, Culture and Learning, Music, Entertainment, the Commercial World, On the Move and Sport and Leisure.
Compiler Russell Ash states in the introduction that the “Top 10 lists provide a shorthand glimpse of what is happening with the world … at the same time it conveys a fascinating and entertaining overview of the amazing diversity of our planet and its people…”
This the book does very well; for example, did you know that Iceland has the highest reported crime rate in the world? Sweden, UK and Finland are right up there too. Interestingly, the list of the most developed countries in the world also begins with Iceland and Norway, with Sweden and Finland also in the top 10. One can see that there is more than just a weather attraction for the Scandinavians to come to Thailand.
Now, which are the most obese countries in the world? No, not America, it does not even get onto the top 10 list. The winner by a large slab of flab is Nauru, followed by Tonga and Samoa!
Of course the younger generation is probably more interested in the music and movies side of life, but I was heartened to read that Helen Shapiro with her Number 1 hit “You don’t know” was the youngest performer, being only 14 years old in 1961. I can remember her, whilst top 10 album Amy Winehouse for me, is just a name.
On to the movies, and the top movie producing country in the world. If you said America, then I’m afraid you are wrong again. It is India having produced more than twice the number of feature films than second placed America. Don’t ever sneer at Bollywood again!
There is also a comparison between today and 20 years ago which shows how well, or poorly we have done.
There is an excellent section at the back just called Further Information, and gives www references for all the sections. This is separate from the Index which follows it. With the snippets being given in each section, the ability to look further into any subject is a boon, as I found there were many items into which I wanted to delve further.
At B. 895 in Bookazine, this is an inexpensive reference book believe me. Honestly, you’d pay more than that for the incredible cover! This is a book for the whole family, and like me, you will find your knowledge lacking, but you can learn.