I picked up ‘Go Figure’ whilst waiting at Paddington one Friday evening, it didn’t really appeal to me but I thought I’d give it a go, as it was included in the ‘buy one get one half price’ deal that WHSmith always run. Plus, it was published by The Economist, so I thought it’d be OK.
Boy, I was wrong. This book pretty much covers everything you have heard about but never really understood, prime examples: naming of hurricanes, marriage crisis in China and India, why there are so many Kim’s in Korea, how bitcoin works and why the sky is blue.
A lot of these I’ve heard of and thought I knew why, but it was 99% guessing. After reading the first few books, I go pretty much hooked. The writing style was perfect, short and snappy but straight to the point, explaining in layman terms and very easy to understand as well as being able to put the book down and still come back into it at a good time. But what I loved most about this book was the way data was displayed, beautifully craft graphs and figures (see below). Most reminded me a lot of figures you often so on r/DataIsBeautiful or in books such as ‘Knowledge is Beautiful‘ by David McCandless (which I still haven’t bought but gaze into it every time I go to Waterstones).
My favourite topics were probably: why leap seconds might not be a thing anymore, how the US police force became so armed, what satanists believe, adult adoption in Japan, why the UN doesn’t pay it’s interns and how to search for time travellers.
The book was great, I learnt numerous random topics as well as remember a few things I had forgotten back in the days of GCSEs/school…i.e. why is the sky blue.