"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." -Oscar Wilde
*Of which we could only remember 246.
No, you’re not losing your mind. And you’re definitely not alone. There’s Jimmy Carter, forgetting the nuclear launch codes in a suit at the dry cleaners. Rod Stewart fumbling for the name of the intense first love who inspired “Maggie Mae.” G. K. Chesterton writing a long letter to his mother announcing the good news about his engagement—while his mother is in the room with him. Marilyn Monroe blowing the same line through 52 takes during the filming of Some Like It Hot.
Celebrating history’s greatest mental lapses, is a perfect impulse book in the fine gift format of Famous Last Words. Not just outlandishly funny, it’s also a book of great comfort—after all, having a senior moment puts you in the company of Einstein, Lincoln, Beethoven, Newton, Toscanini, and a whole assortment of presidents, poets, philosophers, popes, and Nobel Prize winners. Talk about gaffes. Here are best men forgetting to show up at the wedding. Judges staggered by the incompetence of their previous decisions. Senators frozen in front of TV cameras. Olympic officials gazing absently while bewildered runners continue through the finish line. Bono losing the only copy of his lyrics to a new album. Forget to pick up your copy today!
TOM FRIEDMAN is a writer, editor, and George Foster Peabody Award–winning documentary producer. He lives in Northern California.
It's time to get off the beaten path. Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.
Talk about a bucket list: here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that's so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells in India. Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan's 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell, a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.
Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, ATLAS OBSCURA revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer.
Anyone can be a tourist. ATLAS OBSCURA is for the explorer.
Hardcover. 480 pages. Published September 2016.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS, FOND FAREWELLS, DEATHBED DIATRIBES, AND EXCLAMATIONS UPON EXPIRATION
A collection of the notable last recorded words of the dying, Famous Last Words is, unexpectedly, bursting with life, hope, wisdom, and often laughter. Here are writers, philosophers, athletes, gangsters, kings, queens, movie stars, and politicians, in all sorts of moods and states of preparedness. Some merely want to say goodbye to loved ones, others want to create a legacy. And some are caught completely off guard, like Civil War general John Sedgwick, answering his troops' urgings to take cover: They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!
There's the droll: It's the wallpaper or me. One of us has to go (Oscar Wilde); the blasé: How are the Mets doing today? (Moe Berg); the cranky: It wasn't worth it (Louis B. Mayer); the wistful: That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted (Lou Costello); the optimistic: I shall hear in heaven! (Beethoven); and the overly optimistic: I've never felt better (Douglas Fairbanks).
Ultimately, every one of these parting statements is a reflection of the person behind it. Each is accompanied by a mini-biography of the speaker, including the context of death, from the golf course (That was a great game of golf, fellers Bing Crosby) to a favorite armchair (Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough-Karl Marx).
Hardcover. 192 pages.
It's an irresistible combination: Brad Meltzer, a born storyteller, counting down the world's most intriguing unsolved mysteries. And to make this richly illustrated book even richer, each chapter invites the reader along for an interactive experience through the addition of removable facsimile documents—the evidence! It's a treasure trove for conspiracy buffs, a Griffin and Sabine for history lovers.
Adapted from Decoded, Meltzer’s hit show on the HISTORY network, History Decoded explores fascinating, unexplained questions. Is Fort Knox empty? Why was Hitler so intent on capturing the Roman “Spear of Destiny”? What’s the government hiding in Area 51? Where did the Confederacy’s $19 million in gold and silver go at the end of the Civil War? And did Lee Harvey Oswald really act alone? Meltzer sifts through the evidence; weighs competing theories; separates what we know to be true with what’s still—and perhaps forever—unproved or unprovable; and in the end, decodes the mystery, arriving at the most likely solution. Along the way we meet Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Nazi propagandists, and the real DB Cooper.
Bound in at the beginning of each story is a custom-designed envelope—a faux 19th-century leather satchel, a U.S. government classified file—containing facsimiles of relevant evidence: John Wilkes Booth’s alleged unsigned will, a map of the Vatican, Kennedy’s death certificate. The whole is a riveting, interactive adventure through the compelling world of mysteries and conspiracies.
Hardcover.160 pages. Published October 2013.
Hallelujah, it's a book! After proving itself to be the "funniest calendar of the year" (according to Gene Shalit), "irresistible" (USA Weekend), and "habit-forming" (Maxim magazine), the Nuns Having Fun calendar has inspired Nuns Having Fun, a book of endearing nuttiness.
Catholic kitsch doesn't get any funnier. Written by Maureen Kelly and Jeffrey Stone, pitch-perfect co-authors of the nuns calendar and the New York Times bestseller Growing Up Catholic, Nuns Having Fun features hundreds of sisters in full habit, cutting loose and having a hoot. Here are nuns in the surf ("This is even more fun than walking on water"), nuns in bumper cars ("We brake for Jesus"), nuns in a beer hall ("Ale Marys"), and nuns in the museum, huddled in front of a study of nudes ("It's okay to open your eyes. Sister Wendy says it's art"). There are nuns on skates, at bat, at the theater, skeet shooting (nuns with guns!), even hitting the slots (you know it's for a good cause). The 125 images are from the 1950s and '60s, black-and-white and possessing a pure retro charm; the written material is all-new. Drawing on their years as parochial school students, the authors explore the lore and legends surrounding nuns, including Favorite Punishments from Nuns, Nuns Say the Darndest Things, How to Recognize a Nun After Vatican II, a Wimple Watch, and List of People Who Could Have Been Nuns.
As Sister says, "To err is human. To laugh is divine."
Softcover. 250 pages. Published May 2008.
New York Times Bestseller
“Fascinating.”—Men’s Health, Best Beach Reads for Sports Fans
On the Origins of Sports is an illustrated book built around the original rules of 21 of the world’s most popular sports, from football and soccer to wrestling and mixed martial arts. Never before have the original rules for these sports coexisted in one volume. Brimming with history and miscellany, it is the ultimate sports book for the thinking fan.
Each sport’s chapter includes a short history, the sport’s original rules, and a deeper look into an element of the sport, such as the evolution of the baseball glove; sports with war roots; a compendium of sports balls; and iconic sports trophies.
Written by ESPN The Magazine’s former editor in chief, Gary Belsky, and executive editor, Neil Fine, and filled with period-style line drawings in a handsome package, On the Origins of Sports is a book that sports fans and history buffs alike will want to display on their coffee tables, showcase on their bookshelves, and treasure for generations.
Hardcover. 256 pages. Published April 2016.
Re-create 12 iconic artworks one sticker at a time!
Paint by Sticker is a compelling new activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and coloring book enthusiasts of all ages. Masterpieces encourages everyone to channel their inner da Vinci and create twelve iconic works of art.
Paint by Sticker Masterpieces includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings”—the stickers, the templates, the intuitive directions. The works include The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, Napoleon at Saint-Bernard Pass, by Jacques-Louis David, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai, Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect, by Claude Monet, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, by Paul Cezanne, Dance at Bougival, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bedroom in Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), by Winslow Homer, and the stunning study in color, Flaming June, by Frederic Leighton.
The cardstock pages are perforated for easy removal, making it easy to frame the completed images.
Recommended for ages 12+. Softcover. 56 pages. Published September 2016.
The perfect gift for seekers, the curious, and the spiritually hungry, The Little Book of Prayers now has a stunning new cover and a more prayer book–like format.
Gathered from holy books and prayer books, from songs and spirituals, spoken traditions and poets, it is an unexpectedly approachable collection of common and uncommon prayers from around the world. The entries, one per page or spread, are chosen for their depth of feeling, beauty of expression, spiritual intensity, and sense of the universal. The book is organized into broad categories of praise, entreaty, contemplation, mourning, and grace; and two indexes—one by authorship, and the other by topic—make it immediately accessible.
There are familiar prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer and 23rd Psalm, which, placed in new context, shine with a renewed beauty and wisdom. You’ll find prayers unfamiliar to many in the West, such as the “Opener” from the Koran or the four vows of the Boddhisattva, chanted every evening in Zen monasteries around the world. And the surprising—from the “Prayer of the Unknown Confederate Soldier” to the blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins to the poetry of Rumi.
God help us to live slowly
To move simply
To look softly
To allow emptiness
To let the heart create for us.
You, whose day it is, make it beautiful.
Get out your rainbow colors, so it will be beautiful.
A perfect little gift book filled with whimsical, colorful illustrations, short lists, cheerful prompts, recipes, and fun facts, The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures is the sweetest reminder imaginable that it’s the little things in life that make us happy. Little things like sharing tea with a friend. An ice cream cone with sprinkles. Finding a forgotten item of clothing in the closet. The smell in the air right after a summer rain.
Created by the editors of Flow magazine, The Tiny Book of Tiny Pleasures is a celebration of slowing down and appreciating the simple moments of life—all you have to do is take notice.
Softcover. 400 pages. Published April 2017.