Ripley’s Believe It or Not 2010, cover

Leroy Ripley was fascinated by the oddities of everyday life. He created the Ripley brand of museums, books radio and tv shows. This a book review of the 2010 Annual.

This book is a logical spin-off that will entertain, often against the reader’s intention. Due to the nature of the content and presentation of Ripley’s Believe it or Not many readers will be dismissive but few will avoid engaging with it, even if initially reluctant.

Seeing is Believing: Bizarre Facts, Fiends and Freaks Will Surprise

Ripley’s Believe it or Not is a large format hardback book and its 254 pages are structured into twelve sections and Index:

  • Strange but True – Extreme Scrabble and a dentist with no hands for example
  • Extreme Earth – Foaming sea and incredible icebergs
  • Incredible Feats – Escape artists and bizarre feats of endurance
  • Unusual Customs – Snowman army and rainbow revellers
  • Crazy Creatures – Kitten with two faces and canine prosthesis
  • Travel Tales – Single-wheel motorcycles and office chair racing
  • Fantastic Food – Fried spiders and chocolate wrestling
  • Body Oddity – Longest and shortest, man-made and natural human oddities
  • Strange Sites –Bar in Baobab tree and surf board fence
  • Artistic License –Graffiti written in light and portrait busts made with live matchsticks
  • Amazing Science – Space facts, Big Band and Large Hadron Collider at CERN
  • Beyond Belief – Birdmen and other examples of man's strange pursuits.

Each section consists of short items with themed spreads on topics such as Barnum and Bailey or Escape Artists Extraordinaire Each item is usually a single paragraph with the key facts and a very brief narrative to provide some context. Ripley’s Believe It or Not 2010 is extensively illustrated and the presentation style is informal.

Voyeuristic, Fascinating, Disturbing even Upsetting

A book then to dip into but it will draw the reader in to browse widely; often against their initial inclination. There is always a page to turn, something else to discover even if it might be disconcerting. The content of Ripley’s Believe It or Not 2010 is not deep but does not pretend to be anything else. It is broad in its coverage, and any reader will find something of interest. Most readers will discover their inner voyeur.

The question that keeps coming to mind is: Why?

A Suitable Gift?

Ripley’s Believe It or Not 2010 is a book that will tend to be given as a gift and its launch in October seems to reflect the publishers view that many sales will fall during the gift giving holiday and Christmas season. It will not be a mainstay of a serious library but it can provide occasional diversion or talking point beyond the holiday season. Not all items are of the bizarre and some readers may have their appetite for knowledge whetted and will go to seek more in depth coverage of something that has fascinated them.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not 2010 (ISBN: 978-1-8479-4585-3 is published by Random House 1 October 2009 at £18.99.

Most readers will enjoy this book, a few will not admit to doing so whilst being secretly fascinated by it. A small minority will hate it!


First appeared on Suite101


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.