Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods? by Caroline Taggart

Title: Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?: Answers to Rhetorical Questions
Author: Caroline Taggart

Genre: Non-Fiction (Humor / Pop Culture / Philosophy / Literature / General Trivia)
Publisher/Publication Date: Plume (7/26/2011)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes, in a breezy two hours.
One-sentence summary: Snappy and humorous responses to a variety of rhetorical questions.
Reading Challenges: British Books

Do I like the cover?: I do -- the lettering in particular, as it conveys the feel of the book.

I'm reminded of...: Ben Schott and other books that are good for leaving in a bathroom

First line: It depends on where you are: in the average supermarket, there is a clearly labeled "Meat" section offering beef of various cuts and kinds; in a vegetarian restaurant you may search in vain and have to settle for the spinach and ricotta quiche. -- from "Where's the beef?"

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you're the trivia type; gift if you need something silly and smart!

Why did I get this book?: I'm a know-it-all who likes to know more!

Review: The title of this book, with the mild, modified obscenity, pretty accurately conveys the tone and feel of this slender book. Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School and The Classics: All You Need to Know, from Zeus's Throne to the Fall of Rome, specializes in zingy tidbits of trivia for people who want to feel smarter and/or have more ammunition for game night.

The collection of rhetorical questions is English-oriented, sourced from literature, film, and popular music.  While there are some Latin and French phrases, they're likely familiar to English speakers.  Non-native English speakers might have a hard time with some of the entries, as Taggart doesn't often explain the source of the rhetorical question (slogan, song lyric, movie quote, or a line of poetry, etc.) nor does she explain the implied meaning.  She alternates with flip answers (usually pat, tired stereotypes involving women and shoes) and serious, sometimes literal responses (see my example for 'Where's the beef?' above in the First Line section). Taggart has a bit of a green streak, as many of her answers refer to the ecological impact of things, but she also can be weirdly dated, with her non-stop references to women needing to buy shoes.

I found the book funny at times, but not snort-out-loud. If I was particularly amused by the rhetorical question ('How do you solve a problem like Maria?', 'How much is that doggie in the window?'), I usually found the answer funny and clever. If I didn't get the question ('Has your mother sold her mangle?', 'How many beans make five?)', usually the response went over my head, a bit like an inside joke no one explained to me.

Still, this glib book is perfect for the irreverent wise ass in your life. Either dole out the answers yourself, or gift them with this book and be aware you'll be peppered with trivia later.

*** *** ***


The publisher has generously offered a copy of Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods? to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this short form. Open to US/CA readers, closes 9/30.


  1. This book sounds hilarious and I'm all for hearing sarcastic answers to rhetorical questions :) Her other titles look interesting as well.

  2. I bet this would be the perfect book for my husband, as he is the consummate smart ass of the house. It sounds like he would be pretty happy with this, and I bet he would tell me all about it too! I would love the chance to be entered in your giveaway for a copy as well. It seems like a really fun read. Very nice review, by the way!


  3. My dad used to use this expression all the time while I was growing up. Sounds like a fun read. Here's hoping I'm the lucky winner!

  4. Sounds like a fun book for the bathroom! Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. laughing at bermudaonion's suggestion above! :D Sounds like a funny premise.

  6. This is the type of book that gets passed through everyone in our house. We are all corny type of trivia readers. Thanks for offering it for gieaway!

  7. Kathy's right, this would be great for the bathroom. My dad's bathroom in particular.

  8. This book definitely sounds entertaining and fun. I like that it's by a British author (being a little biased towards most things British!). I can think of a few of the male persuasion who would like this book a lot.
    I, too, am lost on the mother/mangle question and the bean question! WHere's the beef is a little been there/done that but that's okay!

    Thank you for the giveaway, Audra!


  9. What a great book to have around during a party! lol Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. This sounds like a seriously fun read!

  11. This sounds like a funny book! Thanks for the cbance.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net