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A World of Curiosities: Surprising, Interesting, and Downright Unbelievable Facts from Every Nation on the Planet

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  24 reviews
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe: everything you never knew you never knew about every country on Earth.A scientist by training and an explorer by passion, Dr. John Oldale has logged half a million miles visiting more than ninety nations. Now, he celebrates our weird and wonderful world in a cornucopia of fascinating facts brought vividly to life through the unexpected stories ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Plume (first published 2011)
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4.09  · 
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 ·  137 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trivia, read-in-2012
This is a very impressive collection! I have long been a compiler of useless facts and trivia and I've seen it all before, so to speak, but 95% of the information in this book was entirely new to me. (Did you know Genghis Khan was a redhead? That Switzerland "accidentally" invaded Luxembourg with a force of 200 soldiers in 2007 and nobody in Luxembourg noticed? That the Hungarian language has 18 cases, 72 verb forms and no word for "to have"?) This would make good toilet and/or bedside reading, ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this is good stuff. It's all so interesting! Customs, laws, trivia... my favorite remains the man who "died of laughter while watching a kilted Scotsman using bagpipes to do battle against a black pudding." I honestly can't think of a better way to go. Even imagining this spectacle gives me a fit of the giggles, and those who know me well know I can really wind up beside myself once I start laughing hard enough, so perhaps it's best I not see a re-enactment unless I'm ready to depart this wo ...more
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ein sehr interessantes Buch, das geradezu zum Schmökern einlädt!

Zu nahezu jedem Land der Erde schreibt Oldale kurioses, wissenswertes, erschreckendes und informatives. Ab und an nerven die ganzen Fußnoten ein bisschen, die den Lesefluss ab und an arg unterbrechen, aber das lässt sich mit ein bisschen Übung hinkriegen. Der Autor regt übrigens an, sein Buch auf dem Klo zu deponieren, um dann immer wieder darin zu schmökern.

Statt einer ausführlichen Beschreibung des Buches greife ich einfach wahllo
Aries Eroles
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Not a single book can ever be written to contain all the curiosities of the world. But John Oldale gives a wonderful try for providing shocking, hard facts from each country (and territories, dependencies, etc.) throughout the world.

Much for entertainment, each page is filled with hard-hitting facts that most are weird, or a curiosity.

Detailed graphs are presented for some facts that are visually nice and aid for better comparison and pictures and images are never lacking. This is a must for bor

Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, but then again I am a dork when it comes it useless trivia. Let me tell you this book is FULL of it!
It is not a book you would typically sit down & read cover to cover (unless you're a trivia buff like me of course!) It is designed similar to an encyclopedia. The countries of the world are listed in alphabetical order & there are strange facts about each country. The listing for each country also lists how to say hello & good-bye in the native language, World Herit
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geballtes Wissen, absolut sympathisch und kurzweilig zwischen zwei Buchdeckel gepackt und vor allem auch noch zwischen zwei richtig schöne Buchdeckel. Dieses Nachschlagewerk, was ich wie einen Roman gelesen habe, ist das schönste Nachschlagewerk seit Ewigkeiten gewesen. Es sind nicht nur sture Fakten zu lesen, sondern kleine Anekdoten, wunderbare erklärende Graphiken dazwischen, Zitate und eben auch Dinge, die man nicht mal in einem Nachschlagewerk zu suchen, glauben wagen würde. (War das jetzt ...more
Edric Subur
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Discovered interesting facts from familiar places but especially from so many nations which name I’ve never even heard of. Some of my favorite:
1. Kissing on trains was banned in France to stop incessant delays caused by parting lovers

2. 50% of children in Luxembourg fail school because proficiency in all 3 languages (Luxembourgish, German and French) is required to pass secondary school

3. Ear cleaning with a partner is a well-recognized sensual experience in East Asia; Unfortunately Europeans ar
Your Friend
Apr 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So interesting. The ultimate world trivia book.
Eustacia Tan
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
World of Curiosities sums up each nation covered at least one page (with Hong Kong/Macau and Taiwan getting their own pages), though which countries get an in-depth report seems to be arbitrarily decided. While I have no idea if this really covered every country on the planet, it did cover a lot of them. And it was a fact book, so it took me some time to finish (never mind how interesting the facts were).

Of course, Singapore is mentioned:

(First country I turned to too).

The Singapore section wa
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was really fun! Lots of great facts about every country on earth. I was expecting there would be some facts I'd want to skip or skim through, but no, they were all interesting. I especially liked some of the visuals (timelines, graphs, etc) that made some of the information really palatable and easy to comprehend. I also felt he was incredibly fair to all countries. I recently made an "Around the World in 80 Books" display for my library and worked hard to find books that gave very positive ...more
Kristin King
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If my copy wasn't from the library, I would keep this by the dinner table and read something from it every time a different country is in the news. This really is what the subtitle bills; 'Surprising, Interesting, and Downright Unbelievable Facts from Every Nation on the Planet.'If you already know some of these tidbits, then this makes makes you feel well informed for it. Did you know Polar Bear livers are poisonous? (in 30-90 gram portions) The process of dying from this poison is what I still ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Head and shoulders above what you expect from a country-triva book, this is non-stop info-tainment. The writing is punchy (and British), the facts appear to be solid, the content is driven by a healthy sense of weird, and there are a zillion footnotes, which are so fun you read every one.

Every time someone mentioned a country, I read that page. It took me 4 months and probably 100 bowls of popcorn but I think I read them all.
Aimee Massey
I eat this kind of trivia for breakfast. My only complaint was that some countries got hardly any attention at all; come on, surely every country on earth is packed with interesting and unusual information!
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mixed-shelf, own
Awesome book, so full of useful and useless trivia; it was such an entertaining pleasure to read; it's funny, weird and shocking!
Only disadvantage is that it's printed so small that reading it probably ruined by eyesight even more. But it was worth it!
Lynne Cosmano
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Learned a lot about many countries but did not like all the facts and figures along the margins of the pages...made it difficult to read. Don't know how the author ever decided what to feature for each nation..politics, environment, quirky customs, despots and kosmokrators.......
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
SO I totally drove my family nuts with the trivia from this book. I loved it.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book. The facts discussed in the book, and the way they are presented are so neat. Visually and factually amazing.
Lindsay L. Martin
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
A trivia lovers joy, absolutley fascinating, useless information, the kind of stuff I love.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The best parts of Wikipedia concerning every country in the world, distilled into a single reference. It has a permanent place on my coffee table.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Don't fill your brain with these information because most of them are wrong
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May 18, 2015
Andy Hoke
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Jan 21, 2013
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Sep 03, 2016
Christopher Keating
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Apr 25, 2013
Camille Wong
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Every time I pick this book up and read some of it I learn a new fact or quote. It is really cool.
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Apr 12, 2015
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Aug 10, 2015
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Jun 15, 2018
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From the Huffington Post article:
John Oldale speaks five languages, has outrun knife wielding brigands (twice) and has been rescued from a sub-Antarctic beach. He is currently living in a suburb of Washington DC with his family.