Did you know that Ben Franklin came up with Daylight Saving Time (his analysis showed that the savings due to using natural light versus artificial light would come up to $299 million in today's money). Did you know that Sylvester Graham invented ready-to-eat breakfast cereal and Will Kellogg invented cornflakes? Or that London was the city which had the world's first subway? Whether you want to astound your friends with your vast general knowledge (a.k.a trivia) or just like learning new and cool things, you should read Firsts: Origins of Everyday Things that Changed the World. I received a copy of the book to review, and here's what I thought of it:
Firsts is a trivia book themed around milestones, origins, and how things began. The author, trivia expert Wilson Casey (a.k.a The Trivia Guy), has compiled over 500 "firsts". The topics are arranged alphabetically, with descriptions of about 100-150 words per topic. The book is published by Alpha Books and retails for $12.95.
What an interesting book! It's really fun to read, and the stuff you learn will stand you in good stead at awkward cocktail parties, Trivial Pursuit games, and nights when your husband is mad at you and need something to break the ice and make him laugh before you can say you're sorry. I have to admit, I was surprised that the indoor toilet was invented by John Harrington. I had always thought the inventor was Thomas Crapper (hence the origin of the word crap). And the book claims that Rabbi Hillel the Elder of Jerusalem invented the sandwich, not the Eark of Sandwich. But a quick Wikipedia check proved that the author is, in fact, correct. Hey, if it's on the internet it must be true, right?
I would not recommend reading the whole book in one fell swoop; if you do, you might succumb to trivia overload. This book is like a box of truffles -- they need to be savored in little bits and bites, and if you gorge on the whole box you'll end up with a stomachache. So just skim through the book here and there, latch onto some titles that interests you and read.
The Bottom Line
Firsts is a fun book that history / culture / trivia buffs will love, and everyone will enjoy. And since it's best suited to short, occasional reads, this is the kind of book that will most likely end up -- Dare I say it? And I mean this in the nicest possible way -- not in the toilet, but beside it!
Five lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will win a copy of Firsts: Origins of Everyday Things That Changed the World. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post and tell me about a "first" you experienced in 2009. Did your son lose his first tooth last week? Did you try sushi for the first time? Did you come first in a competition? Did you start a blog, a business or a brawl? Tell us!
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following, (you can only do each entra entry once; please leave a separate comment for each extra entry):
1) Grab my blog button and post it up on your blog (leave a comment here with your blog URL).
2) Fave Bonggamom Finds on Technorati (leave a comment with your Technorati id).
3) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Blogger(leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
4) Tweet this giveaway (leave a comment with a link to your tweet). Here is a sample tweet you can copy and paste:
Win a book all about Firsts from @bonggafinds http://tinyurl.com/yfbkebk
Maximum of five entries per person. This giveaway ends at midnight PST on December 1st (naturally), 2009; I will draw five winners at random on December 2nd and post the winners' names on the comments section as soon as they confirm acceptance. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!
I received a sample in order to review this product, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.