It's No Use

The Book of Useless Information, Neil Botham, Perigee.

“The Book of Useless Information” is one book you can judge by its cover, as the title pretty much says it all. Produced by Neil Botham and the 29 other members of the London-based Useless Information Society (UIS), the book contains 286 pages of mostly useless but often fascinating facts. On one randomly chosen page (p. 65) the reader discovers the most twisted tongue twister (“The sixth sick Sheik's sixth sheep’s sick”), the largest anagrams (Hydroxydesoxycorticosterone and hydroxydeoxycorticosterone), and the world’s longest place name (it’s 84 letters long; I won’t even try to spell it out).

Naturally, one might wonder what criteria the UIS uses to classify any particular item as “useless.” According to General Secretary Keith Waterhouse the information—compiled at society meetings held at London pubs—has to pass the “not-a-lot-of-people-know-that test.” As for the book itself, Whitehouse says the goal is simple: To leave readers “reeling under the weight of a cornucopia of entirely useless and out-of-the-way facts. Then our deliberations will not have been in vain.”