by David Haviland
Tarcher, $12.95, 262 pages
The 1665 Great Plague of London was believed to be caused by deadly vapors and doctors thought that other foul smells would help ward off the disease. Some people kept dirty goats in their homes. Others bottled their own flatulence which could be inhaled later for protective measures. Such interesting facts can be found in David Haviland’s book Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar. Each trivia fact is, at most, a few pages long – perfect for quick reading.
In chapters such as “Disgusting Diseases,” “Curious Cures,” and “Dodgy Diagnoses,” readers will be grossed out and intrigued by the research Haviland has done about entertaining oddities. Have you ever wondered how often a person can vomit in a twelve-hour period? Look no further! Patients with cyclic vomiting syndrome will vomit as much as twelve times per hour! Kids will be glad to find out that it doesn’t really take seven years for swallowed chewing gum to digest (despite what their mothers tell them). People are generally quite curious about unusual medical issues. Haviland’s book goes a long way to satisfy such curiosities, and he does it with a quirky sense of humor.
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin