I’m a librarian to trade, and so predisposed to appreciate the ordering of knowledge. So there were few risks inherent in giving me this book to review. Published by Britannica Books, Listified! is pretty much what it says: 300 lists on a variety of subjects. Don’t let that put you off though. The lists are varied, quirky and often full of startling information. Alongside Andrew Pettie’s text, there are hundreds of illustrations by Andres Lozano which all add to the general fascination of the book.
As soon as I got the book, I turned to the index and started looking for references to my favourite things. I was disappointed not to find any mention of snooker, Norway or ships but there was plenty else to distract me. So, what can I tell you? Well, the oldest Antarctic research station is on Laurie Island. It’s 1,280 kilometres from the Falkland Islands – and you thought they were remote! And how about this: the Glasgow Subway is the third oldest rapid transit system in the world. Did you know that the locals call it the Clockwork Orange? (That last piece of information comes from my head rather than the book. I’m a graduate of Glasgow University and used the Subway a lot whilst living in the city.) Thirteen might be unlucky for some but not for CS Lewis. His novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has sold 85 million copies, making it the thirteenth most bought book in the world.
These are just a very few of the facts you can discover through the lists in Listified! They are presented with humour and without condescension. Some of the entries are annotated meaning that the reader gets even more information. For example, on Liechtenstein’s national day (15th August in case you were wondering) the monarch invites the entire population to Vaduz Castle for a party with fireworks and a funfair. And the book is full of illustrations that catch the eye. They’re bold and bright and clear, and have a humorous style whilst adding to the information contained in the words. I often give my books away to my friends’ children but not this one (sorry girls!). I’m holding on to it forever and I know that I’ll spend many happy hours reading it randomly.