My father had a friend and business associate named Phil who used to give the best holiday gifts. Rather than desk trinkets or gourmet goodies he'd find interesting and unique books, which he'd present with an attached ribbon bookmark that had his name on it. Books like Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. I always looked forward to seeing what gem he'd find for us. While I (obviously) was not the intended recipient of his business gifts, I treasured them. In fact I actually have one of his books (The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E D Hirsch) here in our apartment.
This fall, I saw the following book in a catalog. I was intrigued by it right away, but it took me a bit to realize why. It's the kind of book I think Phil might have chosen for his holiday gifting. Maybe he did...
An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't by William Wilson
When it was originally published in 1987, An Incomplete Education became a surprise bestseller. Now this instant classic has been completely updated, outfitted with a whole new arsenal of indispensable knowledge on global affairs, popular culture, economic trends, scientific principles, and modern arts. Here's your chance to brush up on all those subjects you slept through in school, reacquaint yourself with all the facts you once knew (then promptly forgot), catch up on major developments in the world today, and become the Renaissance man or woman you always knew you could be!
As delightful as it is illuminating, An Incomplete Education packs ten thousand years of culture into a single superbly readable volume. This is a book to celebrate, to share, to give and receive, to pore over and browse through, and to return to again and again. (this is just the first and last paragraphs of the very long publisher's blurb)