The Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information

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Knopf Canada, 2005 - History - 528 pages
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A new edition of the classic bestseller from the original authors, with additional material specifically prepared for Canadian readers by long-time This Morning CBC producer, Ira Basen, and Jane Farrow, the author of Wanted Words.

In 1977, a publishing sensation was born. The Book of Lists, the first and best compendium of facts weirder than fiction, was published. Filled with intriguing information and must-talk-about trivia it has spawned many imitators — but none as addictive or successful.

For nearly three decades since, the editors have been researching curious facts, unusual statistics and the incredible stories behind them. Now the most entertaining and informative of these have been brought together in a long-awaited, thoroughly up-to-date new edition that is also the first Canadian edition. Ira Basen and Jane Farrow have augmented the existing lists with fascinating homegrown material, and compiled lists specifically of relevance to Canadian readers.

So if you’ve always wanted to find out how porcupines really mate, how comedy can kill and — that most essential piece of knowledge — how long the longest recorded nose was, this is the book for you. With contributions from a variety of celebrities and experts including Margaret Atwood, Mike Myers, Michael Ondaatje, Dave Eggers, Phillip Pullman and Charlotte Gray, this anthology has something for everyone — and more than you ever suspected you wanted to know.

A list of lists from The Book of Lists:
10 Notable Film Scenes Left on the Cutting Room Floor
10 Afflictions and Their Patron Saints
14 Nations with More Sheep Than People
5 Trips to the Canadian Wilderness That Ended in Disaster
10 Really Bad Canadian Sports Teams
14 Last Words of Famous Canadians
Kurt Browning’s 9 Turning Points in Figure Skating History
7 Trial Verdicts That Caused Riots
12 Museums of Limited Appeal
10 Unusual Canadian Place Names That Start with a “B”
7 Well-Known Sayings Attributed to the Wrong Person
10 Celebrated People Who Read Their Own Obituaries
Sloane’s Jay Ferguson’s 10 Perfect Pop Songs
13 Possible Sites for the Garden of Eden
9 Canadian Sports Stars Who Became Politicians
First Sexual Encounters of 13 Prominent Canadians

Four Foods Invented by Canadians
1. Processed Cheese — J. L. Kraft grew up on a dairy farm in Stevensville, Ontario. While working as a grocer he was struck by the amount of cheese that was wasted on wheels of cheddar when the dried rind was scraped off to get at the fresh interior. He resolved to find a way to use this “waste” product, experimenting with double boilers, preservatives and cheddar. Eventually he found a way of stabilizing the dairy product that has come to be known as processed cheese.
2. Frozen Foods — The technology to freeze food quickly and transport it to markets far away was developed in Halifax in 1928. Within a year, “ice fillets” were being sold to fish-deprived Torontonians who loved the taste and didn’t seem to mind the high price tag. Despite this, the fishing industry and private companies lost interest and quickly mothballed the project. In 1930, a feisty American, Colonel Clarence Birdseye, claimed responsibility for developing frozen foods and promptly made a fortune.
3. Pablum — Invented in 1930 by Dr. Alan Brown, assisted by researchers Theodore Drake and Fred Tisdall. The add-water baby cereal revolutionized infant nutrition, and, of course, became synonymous with food that was bland and mushy.
4. Poutine — Although many claim responsibility for the crowd-pleasing combination of squeaky cheese curds, canned gravy and french fries, it is generally agreed that the first order of this regional specialty of Quebec was served up by restaurant owner Fernand Lachance in 1957. Many variations on the original recipe exist including one deluxe version with foie gras served in Montreal’s Pied de Cochon bistro.

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About the author (2005)

David Wallechinsky is the author of numerous books including The People’s Almanac Presents the Twentieth Century: History with the Boring Parts Left Out and The Complete Book of the Olympics.

Amy Wallace is the co-author of four previous volumes of The Book of Lists, as well as several other popular reference books. She also wrote the bestselling memoir Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda.

Ira Basen is a long-time CBC Radio producer. He worked together with Jane on Workology, and has also produced This Morning, Quirks & Quarks and Sunday Morning. His book Spin will be published by Penguin Books in 2006.

Jane Farrow is the author of Wanted Words and Wanted Words 2. She has hosted the CBC Radio One programs The Omnivore, Home and Workology.

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