The De-Textbook

Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Plume
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program, Plume
Genre(s): Humor, Non-Fiction, History, Science, etc.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers:  N/A
GoodReads | Amazon

Ever find yourself spending hours on the Internet wasting it away by scrolling through lists or clicking random links in Wikipedia articles until you’ve somehow gotten from Hilary Clinton to Yo Gabba Gabba? Then Cracked’s De-Textbook is the perfect off-line alternative for you!

But seriously, if you’re a fan of Cracked, this book is definitely worth checking out. The book keeps with the satirical, witty, quippy writing style from the website so you won’t be disappointed. And the team that put together the book managed – for the most part – to pick some pretty interesting stuff to talk about. The whole premise of the book is to re-educate people on all the lies our teachers told us in our elementary through high school days.

The presentation of the book is fantastic to that end, by the way. Just Look at the cover. It looks cool, sure. But the way the book is actually physically designed it looks and feels just like an old elementary school textbook. It’s got that same sort of waxy, plastic feel to it and it’s got the sort of ‘library binding’ that we’d expect from those old textbooks – like Ven Conmigo, the ubiquitous Spanish class text. I’ve even managed to bump the corners so instead of being new and sharp they are rounded and dull just like any textbook after it’s first few days of use!

So what does re-educating people through a de-textbook mean anyway?

It means debunking the myths that we were fed as kids by an education system seeking to over simply complicated topics for easy digestion by the general populace. Like the idea that Shakespeare is this fantastic writer who only wrote nice, relatively vanilla plays like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet instead of really being the medieval equivalent of the guys who wrote Saw, Hostel, or any other slasher film. Or that the dinosaurs we know and love from Jurassic Park didn’t look like that at all and that the dinosaurs we think are ‘cool’ are only cool because their names are easier to pronounce or less lame than others.

Now, some of it seems fairly common sense. No one is surprised that Paul Revere wasn’t the only person to ride that night warning people that the British were coming. (Though you may be surprised that he didn’t even finish his ride.) Nor is anyone really surprised when they break down the specifics of how many planets are in the solar system – eight – and how there could be other planets or planetoids we haven’t discovered – like Tyche beyond Pluto. And then some of it is just dumb. The “sex education” section wasn’t really worth it at all though to be fair that’s the only one I found disappointing.

Mostly it was just a really fun read.

Final Thoughts: 
Fans of will love this ‘De-Textbook’ full of all kinds of fun tidbits about history, biology, physics, psychology, and more. Full of fun illustrations and quippy entries, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun gift for anyone whose got a Wikipedia addiction and loves to learn new things – especially when they can then turn around and tell other people how wrong they are about things they’ve been taught to believe. Cracked nailed it with this one. I know it’s available in eBook form but I’d recommend skipping it for the actual, physical copy if just for the elementary school textbook nostalgia feel!

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