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Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends
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Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  378 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A fabulously entertaining book from the ultimate authority on those almost believable tales that always happen to a "friend of a friend." Alligators in the sewers? A pet in the microwave? A tragic misunderstanding of the function of cruise control? No, it didn't really happen to your friend's sister's neighbor: it's an urban legend. And no matter how savvy you think you ar ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published February 7th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1999)
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Richard Martin
In 24 chapters and 539 pages ( thus, "colossal"), Jan Brunvand presents a cornucopia of urban legends (UL's). Each chapter starts with an overview of the subject being covered. For clarity, the UL's are in one text font and the background is in another. The background consists of how the UL's were obtained and cites sources. This is not a book to be read in one sitting; I.e., a typical "bathroom reader." To do so would be overwhelming and the book, in my mind, would become tedious. I simply open ...more
My introduction to urban legends came early, and at the hands of my auntie. When I was a kid, my brother and I would spend the latter half of the week at our grandparents and, while they did their weekly food shop, we’d be left under the charge of Auntie Lisa, who’d soon have us squealing and our hair standing on end as she told us about The Dead Roommate, the Maniac on the Car Roof, The Call From INSIDE The House, and The Licked Hand (these are the first I remember hearing, along with one about ...more
Second only to the Darwin Awards I think urban legends are some of the best and most misquoted stories of exaggeration and impossibility in current oral circulation. Don't get me wrong I am sure we all have a personal story we are adamant is true to the point of blindly arguing their truth if they are questioned BUT you have to admit their sheer impossibility (or in some cases disturbing ease) makes them so appealing. And this book has them all - from pop culture (I have seen them referenced in ...more
Una completísima recopilación, extraídas de cartas recibidas por el autor a través de una columna de periódico, de las más famosas leyendas urbanas como el jinete sin cabeza, la planta con bichos carnívoros, el asesino que está en el asiento de atrás del coche, la autoestopista fantasma..etc y sus diferentes variaciones dependiendo del país de origen.
Un buen libro, sin duda, para refrescar aquellas fantásticas a la par que terribles historias que hemos escuchado, y para conocer nuevas.

Entre mis
This is the motherlode of urban legends with each one given a look into its history and the possibility of its being real (surprisingly there are a few). I'm sure you, like me, will find several that you believed. Note that I read the 2014 edition which, although not labeled as updated, in fact has quite a few references to things and reports that were subsequent to the last paperback edition in 2001. I tried to enter the new edition on goodreads website, but site would not allow.
This is perhaps the most comprehensive of Brunvand's work. Although, I wish it were as analytical as some of his others. He writes interesting books about those stories we are all "sure" are "true" and exposing them as legends. He also does a fantastic job of expaling what makes an Urban Legend an Urban Legend as opposed to just a rumor or a piece of gossip. Brunvand is also careful to explain and explore situations where the legends have truth to and in them (for example, the idea that people p ...more
This book has got a ton of stories that you hear at Slumber parties and from a " friend of a friend".
Some of them are um, questionable but still a great read.
Half the stories I actually had thought were true and had happened to people I know!
It's surprising ow many of these legends I've already heard through various sources -, The Darwin Awards, Mythbusters, Horror/Ghost story anthologies, etc.

There was actually very little that was completely new, and most were just small variations on other tales.
Chrissy  Neff
Nov 14, 2014 Chrissy Neff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissy by: I saw it at the library
A fairly delightful collection of stories that feature urban legends and the stories behind them of what REALLY happened.
A fun little read.
Just the thing if you enjoy urban legends. It is really colossal. It's hard to imagine that anything got left out.
This book would have been more interesting if I hadn't already read or heard of most of these urban legends.
Julia DelSignore Peoples
It was an easy and silly read. Not really ground breaking information.
Taylor Mullane
I loved this folktale book. I could not stop reading all the different stories. They all had endings that just made me laugh or I was lefted amazed.

I liked how many different sections this book had. There were sections for all different types of topics, it was fun reading all the types.

It is hard for me to say one thing I did not like about this book, but if I could say one thing it would be how large this book was. There was almost too many stories.

This book would be useful for a teacher read
Bill FromPA
Compiled from oral and written sources, with commentary and cartoons, this is a comprehensive compendium of urban legends from the 2nd half of the 20th century. If it happened to your sister's co-worker's friend's cousin, it's probably in this book.
David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party"
A great collection of stories that we all heard happened "to a friend of someone we know" (funny how none of these accounts are ever first-hand)! Multiple topics are covered, and I was astonished at how many I had once heard being told as being true (for example, a teacher once told the "vacationer who takes in what she thinks is a stray Chihuahua" story).

The only caveat is that Brunvand's writing style can be a little dry at time, but still, the compelling source material makes this a fun read!
Sep 13, 2009 Maya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love creepy stories
Recommended to Maya by: myself
Shelves: maya
i havent read all of it but i went through most of the legends it was very interseting to see some new stories and look over the ones i already knew my favourite one is the babysitting one or the one where the guy is in the backseat im not fond of the ones like the alligator in the sewers or the choking doberman or the spiders in the hair i love ones that have more of a creepy atmosphere but ya i really enjoyed most of the stories great buy
This is great!!! This is a collection of all your favorite Urban Myths - from alligators in the toilet to the crazy guy with the hook for a hand. These are the tales we grew up on. I highly recommend it. Especially to those of you who constantly pass on those emails that are loaded with some of these stories - check it out, you might be surprised just what "myths" you have been exposed to.
very interesting book. throwback to my childhood obsession with urban legends and all things that go bump in the night.
Super fun, easy read. Read some Urban Legends I know and love, some I'd never heard, and some that I truly thought were just jokes or classic scary stories, but apparently people actually think they're true? Craziness.

Also, all of the earwigs in the brain, spiders in the hair, and cats in the microwave seriously creeped me out.

Very good read.
Hilarious - laughed so hard I almost had an athsma attack! The Hare Drier story is the best urban legend - ever! I realized one of the hoax warnings from this book was used on my school district once. We had a note sent home to our parents about stamps with acid or pcp on them in the form of superheroes and buggs bunny characters. Yup - total hoax.
This book was fun if you like reading about stories that you've totally heard and thought were true because you are a gullible sucker like myself. My only problem with it is that it is huge, so about a third of the way through I started getting a little antsy and just jumped around looking for specific stories. It's a good bathroom book. :)
Jennifer Daniel
I like how the author tried to find the root of many urban legends. He would interview some one who allegedly saw the actual event only to be told it was in fact thier cousin's, neighbor's mail man who they got the story from. It was interesting how old some of these legends were, only having small details tweaked to make them current.
Pete Williams
I've had other books that explore the material, but this one has a chance at being a favorite because it doesn't let the editorializing interfere with the stories. They are worded very matter-of-factly ("This happened... and then this happened."). Like it.
Fun and funny. Just what the title and subtitle say. Nearly 500 pages of oral tradition, about two pages per story. Some are quite hysterical -- people actually BELIEVE THIS STUFF?!
I always like collections. This one is an interesting collection of urban legends. You'll have to forgive me for not having more. It's been years since I read this.
Urban Legends from all walks of life. Great book to whip out when your mom insists that your ankles will be slashed by a car thief in a parking garage.
Sep 03, 2013 Kelli marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Jenna Gall
The book was interesting on where the stories came from and how many generations have been telling the same stories to get across a certain moral.
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Jan Harold Brunvand (born 1933) is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah in the United States, best known for spreading the concept of the urban legend, or modern folklore. Before his work, folk tales were associated with ancient times or rural cultures; Brunvand's breakthrough was to take concepts developed in the academic study of traditional folktales and apply them to stori ...more
More about Jan Harold Brunvand...
The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings Encyclopedia of Urban Legends The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends Curses! Broiled Again! Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends

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