Garth Sundem

Brain Candy by Garth Sundem

Date of Publication: 2010, Three Rivers Press

Number of Pages: 266

Synopsis (from back cover): Tastier than a Twizzler yet more protein-packed than a spinach smoothie, Brain Candy is guaranteed to entertain your brain – even as it reveals hundreds of secrets behind what’s driving that electric noodle inside your skull.

These delicious and nutritious pages are packed with bits of bite-sized goodness swiped from the bleeding edge of brain science (including the reason why reading these words is changing your hippocampus at this very moment!). Shelved alongside these succulent neurological nuggets are challenging puzzles and paradoxes, fiendish personality quizzes and genius testers, and a grab bag of recurring treats including Eye Hacks, Algebraic Eight-Ball, iDread, Wild Kingdom, and Logic of Illogic.

Review: This is one of those books that never gets old, no matter how many times you read it. It also has an almost magical ability to make you feel either really dumb or really smart. I found out things that made my various and very weird idiosyncracies seem justified. Did you know that my fear of teenagers actually has a name? It’s called ephebiphobia. And I’m right in thinking that my boyfriend has the handwriting of a serial killer…he matches up well with the Zodiac Killer. And it seems my hours spent daydreaming are actually making me smarter! There are personality tests (I found out that I’m an intelligent, incredibly introverted, absurdly liberal neurotic), intelligence tests (despite the aforementioned personality test that proved my intelligence, I also seem to have a slight case of dementia), puzzles, eye teasers, incredible brain facts, and hundreds of other tidbits that altogether make for hours of kind of depression, often hilarious, and always enlightening fun.

Rating: 10/10

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The Geeks’ Guide to World Domination by Garth Sundem

Date of Publication: 2009, Three Rivers Press

Number of Pages: 245

Synopsis (from back cover): Sorry, beautiful people. These days, from government to business to technology to Hollywood, geeks rule the world.

Finally, here’s the book no self-respecting geek can live without – a guide jam-packed with 314.1516 short entries both useful and fun. Science, pop-culture trivia, paper airplanes, and pure geekish nostalgia coexist as happily in these pages as they do in their natural habitat of the geek brain.

In short, dear geek, here you’ll find everything you need to achieve nirvana. And here, for you pathetic nongeeks, is the last chance to save yourselves: Love this book, live this book, and you too can join us in the experience of total world domination.

Review: Yes, I consider myself to be a geek. But despite what the author claims, this book seems to be meant for geeks and nongeeks alike. For nongeeks, topics such as nuclear energy, thermodynamics, and the subtleties of the Klingon language are explained in easy-to-understand terms that even the nongeek brain can grasp. For geeks, there are ample opportunities to indulge in our various geeky obsessions…for me, the sections on J.R.R. Tolkien were particularly satisfying. This book gives geeks a reason to be proud of their geekiness, and gives nongeeks the ability to pretend that they are geeks…which of course, all nongeeks wish they could do.

Reading this book will give one the ability to impress anyone he or she encounters. You’ll be able to show off your shadow puppet-making skills, impress people with your expert martial arts moves, and help out your friends be making them chain mail armor. In all seriousness, this book is both entertaining and informative. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of both absurd and useful topics.

Rating: 10/10