Because I Said So!: The truth behind the myths, tales, and warnings every generation passes down to its kids by Ken Jennings is perhaps the only book I can think of that I can wholeheartedly, unreservedly, recommend to EVERYONE, even those who usually don’t read nonfiction. Young or old, male or female, left brain or right brain, parent or child, skeptical or gullible, superstitious or scientific, this book is for you. Really.
The subtitle sums it up: this is the Mythbusters of books (with, alas, fewer explosions). Jennings takes dozens of myths, tales, and warnings, from “don’t swim after eating” to “put on a sweater, I’m cold,” and does the legwork to discover where they came from, and whether they’re true or false; sometimes, it turns out to be a little of both. Debunking or affirming each claim in just a few pages, his writing is clear, concise, and often amusing. For example, here’s a snippet of how he debunks the “no swimming after eating” warning:
“It is true that when we eat, our body diverts blood to the stomach to aid in digestion, but, as you may have noticed after every meal you ever ate in your life, that doesn’t immediately immobilize your arms and legs….Not one water death has ever been attributed to post-meal cramping.”
Truly, I recommend this to everyone. And, the scheduled publication date is December 4, just in time for the holidays. Usually, I try to avoid giving books as gifts (partly because I’m a librarian and people expect it), but I’ll probably be buying this for at least one person. So there: it has the librarian stamp of approval!