There’s only one thing better than learning something new – learning something that you thought you knew is absolute bollocks. The hit TV show QI has been blowing the minds of their viewers for over a decade, so naturally a gimmicky book had to be created. Thus The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson was born. Unfortunately, it’s better as a standalone piece than a book connected to a TV show.
The amount of “mind-blowing facts” depends on your knowledge. There were a few facts I already knew (some from watching the TV show), and others I never even heard of so the big reveal of the truth meant little to me. I still recommend you read the book because you’re probably going to learn at least one thing.
I have read a few arguments stating that some QI facts are wrong, and they probably are, so I would have liked a reference list at the end of the book. It does mention the ‘elves’ who do the research, but that isn’t the same as acknowledging where they got the information from.
One of the best aspects of this book is the transitions. It doesn’t separate topics into sections, nor does it jump from one fact to another. Instead, it uses a component of one answer as a the topic subject of the next question. This makes it flow really well, but the rare incident where they don’t do it is obviously disjointed.
Another disjointed part of the book is when they include quotes from the TV show. Some may have been funny, but overall they didn’t work for me. Some didn’t work because they seemed irrelevant, while others didn’t work because it’s not the same as hearing it from the guests. It’s also an issue because I don’t know to whom it is targeted. Fans of the show would already know the joke and I really can’t see it appealing to those who aren’t fans (mainly because they didn’t even include the surnames of the guests). It didn’t destroy the book, but nor did it contribute anything.
Overall, it’s a really pleasant book. Your outlook on reality will be tested and you have to think for yourself. I’m giving it 7.2/10.
Discussion: What is the strangest fact you know?