Coming out this week is That Is All, the final installment of a trilogy of nonsensical almanacs from the sly, satirical John Hodgman (The Areas of My Expertise), contributor to The Daily Show. Hodgman shares the four books that inspired his oeuvre.
The Book of Lists
This is the original collection of fascinating, weird esoterica such as Body Parts You Didn’t Know Had Names and 9 Tattooed Celebrities. A huge bestseller in the 1970s, it even inspired a board game. I am very jealous of this.
The Book of Lists #2
This is probably the greatest second compendium of trivia that I have ever read—an enormous influence on my own second book, More Information than You Require. While The Book of Lists one and two were, sadly, all entirely factual, they did have a sublime sense of humor, each ending with a picture of Franz Lizst.
The Book of Lists #3
One day, when I was pushing against the deadline of my own third book, That Is All, I found I was running out of ways to procrastinate. I picked up the third edition of this book and eerily opened to a list of books that were written in less than a month. Fate was providing me inspiration! It took me another six months to finish, however.
Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader
There are many volumes now of this great work of disposable facts for disposable time, but I discovered the first edition lying around back when I was still an agent at Writers House in New York City. I was not a very good agent, but Writers House itself, a beautiful 18th-century townhouse once belonging to John Jacob Astor, was a lovely place to read and scheme up a new life. And thankfully, it also had a bathroom.