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Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary…

Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary Journey into Senseless Knowledge

by Kent Woodyard

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book through a Librarything.com Early Reviewer giveaway. I should have focused on the "non-essential" part of the title. I'm a fan of mnemonics, but these are very contrived,, and harder to remember than what they are supposed to help you remember. I's a cute little gift book, but I wouldn't pay $14.95 for it. It's ok to open and read one or two entries, but it was impossible for me to stick with it. I understand that his point was not to actually offer helpful mnemonics. Maybe it was to be funny. I'm not sure. Again, very contrived. ( )
  milliebeverly | Feb 16, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There's no doubt the author is clever and funny. Beyond that, I can't guess how this book ever got published. As others here have mentioned, there are some very funny passages, but the lists that have been 'mnemonic-ized' are of little or no use. They offer only a jumping off point for Woodyard to be funny, but that wears thin pretty quickly. Two stars for a clever idea and some funny moments, but otherwise . . . not so great. ( )
  etrainer | Jan 16, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This isn’t exactly a book of mnemonics, it’s a collection of inside jokes. If it wasn't free, I would not have read it. It's not "bad," it's just meh. Blogging his thoughts would have saved on the publishing fees, I'd think. Instead of this book, I recommend this: http://xkcd.com/992/
  LTalias | Jan 4, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Here is what is so absolutely, positively, heartbreakingly painful about this book. In the Introduction and the first chapter ("The Little You Know About the Mnemonics You Know is Probably Wrong") of this book, Kent Woodyard proves himself to be a very funny man.

The introduction has quite a few nice turns of phrase and some decent humor interspersed as Woodyard describes why we care about mnemonics. And the first chapter is veritable gold mine of laughs. In this chapter, Woodyard takes very well-known mnemonics (Every good boy does fine and Roy G. Biv as two examples) and then provides very strange twists to what they might really mean. (Best not describe what he does to the pie-in-the-sky belief expressed by the "every good boy does fine" myth.) And things end nicely, too. The epilogue (including "How to Write Mnemonic Devices Just Like the Ones in This Book") proves again that Wodyard is a talented humor writer.

But after that first chapter, the entire project goes off the rails. And here is probably the greater sin. It appears that the entire purpose of this book was for purposes of delivering the rail-less content. What follows are mnemonics that have no use, have no bearing on anything of much interest to anyone, and feel as contrived as an analogy someone would put at the end of a list because they can't think of anything clever.

Woodyard lists page after page of mnemonics and then provides pithy comments about each one (a literal translation of the mnemonic.) One quick example (after opening the book at random.)

"Get Me Buses, Pizzas, Jim Carrey movies, & Cash.
The bank robber issues an anachronistic list of demands.
Also, a mnemonic for the members of The Brady Bunch family.
Greg, Marcia, Bobby, Peter, Jan, Cindy, Mike, Carol"

Now, when you see that by itself, it is rather clever writing. But it is quickly evident that the mnemonic may be harder to remember than the list itself.

Now imagine page after page after page of this kind of thing. (And, by the way, most of the mnemonics are longer than this, of less use, and relating to a list that is even more useless.) It wears thin quickly.

In the epilogue, Woodyard indicates that if, by the time you have gotten to the epilogue, you don't "get it", then you probably won't. "To the uninitiated...the tens of dozens of mnemonic devices preceding this epilogue were likely perceived as little more than a relentless stream of nonsense flowing from one horizon to the next."

Unfortunately, I think he did far too good a job of describing 90% of his own book. ( )
  figre | Dec 3, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The actual mnemonics were sometimes extremely amusing and I've actually tried to commit a couple to memory, because despit their silliness, I actually wanted to commit to memory what they might help me remember. However, there we're also "humorous" paragraphs after each mnemonic that I didn't find very funny and on occasion I found them downright boring. ( )
  Mebru001 | Nov 22, 2014 |
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