Ripley's Believe It or Not! Reality Shock!

This is not a review, but more a note to say that there's a new Ripley's Believe it or Not out in the world -- Reality Shock! (September 9, 2014)  which I received the publishers.  Like all the Ripley's books, it's a mix of the educational, the gross, and the intriguing.

Something I appreciated:

A nice two page spread on the Shackleton expedition, illustrated with actual photographs.  Educational!

Something fascinating, in a horrific way:

An advertisement for electric corsets!

An interesting story that would make a fascinating book in its own right:

Conjoined twins Millie and Christine McKay were born as slaves in North Carolina in 1851.  The girls were sold to a showman while still toddlers, kidnapped and taken to England, and kidnapped once more.  The American show manager, and the girls' mother (I'm glad she managed to stay with them, at least until the kidnapping--this is my favorite part of the story) managed to track them down four years later.   The girls then performed as "the Two-headed Nightingale."  After emancipation, they used the money they earned to support schools for black children back in North Carolina.

Interesting thing I learned:

"Indigenous peoples of Paraguay account for only about five percent of the population, by their Guarani language is spoken by about 90 percent of the people. This makes Paraguay the only country in the Americas where an indigenous language is spoken by a majority of the population."  Cool!

Something I didn't need to know:

A dude in Louisiana has been saving all his nail clippings since 1978.

Something I wish hadn't been included:

Can we please not have pictures of white guys (Mr. Ripley himself in this case) posing next to a man from Fiji identified as a "human cannibal" because without cultural context I think it's just sensationalist neo-colonialism.


  1. Ripley's and the Guinness World Records were so popular while I was volunteering in school last year. The good thing is they seem to hold up so well despite being checked out so many times.

    1. They really do make good light reading, and I can easily imagine them appealing to a wide range of kids.

  2. Why would Ripley specify that the Fiji man was a "human cannibal" unless he thought it was unclear that the Fiji man was even human? After all, what other kind of cannibal can a human be? Ugh. Bad attitude and bad grammar! XP
    But my son does like these books, too. And I'd love to know more about the McKay twins.


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