The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts & Strange Stories
by Varla Ventura
Published by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. 2008. $14.95
From the mysteries of history to the strangest of medical cures, The Book of the Bizarre provides conversation starters for a lifetime of parties. Ever wondered if you should offer a cigar to animals in a zoo in Zion, Illinois, or where the belief in four-leaf clovers originated? You can find the answers to these and hundreds of other questions in the short entries that fill this interesting little volume.
I often have days when I come home from work too tired to read, and yet reading is one of the best ways I know to relax. Short stories and trivia are the perfect medicine for the brain-dead after-work syndrome. Lively, intriguing and sometimes downright unbelievable, The Book of the Bizarre has a little something for every reader's interest. Strange animal stories, ghost tales, odd coincidences, weird laws, superstitions, folklore and more share the pages of this fast read.
As a storyteller, I am always on the lookout for new material, and here I found the kind of ticklers that can send me searching for more details about the story of Lady Glamis, who tried to murder the King of Scotland in the 16th century and was convicted of witchcraft. There is just enough information included to pique my interest. Although there is an extensive bibliography included, individual entries are not annotated; the point of this book is to entertain and intrigue; it is not intended to be a scholarly resource. For a storyteller or a writer, it's a gold mine of story ideas and writing prompts.
Consider this title a sure bet for teenagers who don't like to read because they will love the variety and weirdness, and for friends and family members who enjoy strange phenomena and odd history. The Book of the Bizarre is a fun, engaging read for all.