Mental Floss magazine

26 Jun

Bibliographic Information

Mental Floss Magazine bi-monthly magazine published by Dennis Publishing.

Plot Summary

Launched in 2000, Mental Floss magazine bears the subhead “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix.”  It is different from most news or feature magazines in that it focuses less on current events and more on quirkier trivia and stories. Each magazine is divided into sections including:

Left Brain – Contains stories pertaining to the left hemisphere of your brain (the more analytical side).  For example, a recent story appeared with the title “Who’s Afraid of Taylor Wilson?” about a teenage boy building a nuclear reactor.

Right Brain – Contains stories pertaining to the right hemisphere of your brain (the more artistic side).  For example, a recent story appeared with the title “6 Freakishly Effective Ways to Court The Muse.”

Scatterbrained – Which looks at a theme from unusual perspectives.  For example, a recent issue explored the theme of bears through the stories “Do Bears Really Crave Honey?” and “Polar Bears: The Perfect Spies”

The Quiz – Which looks at a lot of data on a question to determine an unexpected answer.  For example, in looking at the question “Is Virginia Really For Lovers?” Mental Floss considered not only marriage rates, but wine consumption rates and cut flower sales to determine the real answer – Alaska.

Critical Evaluation

Mental Floss is for a great magazine for teens.  There is enough interesting trivia and stories packed in one issue to keep a reader entertained for hours.  In addition to being divided into different sections (see summary above), the articles also range in length and seriousness.  If you only have a few minutes, you can learn something new by reading the front section, Scatterbrained.  If you have more time, you can travel to a different time and place and read about fascinating people you may have never heard of before.  The stories not only range in length, but in seriousness as well.  Many stories, especially the shorter ones are light and often very funny.  The longer pieces are more serious in tone and go in greater depth about an issue or controversy. In addition to excellent writing, the magazine has a very creative layout and design.  Every page is visually interesting thanks to the great pictures, info-graphics, and illustrations.

While many magazines cover a specific niche, like entertainments, fashion or sports, Mental Floss follows no such traditional format.  Even its Table of Contents is arranged by alphabetical order and annotated with interesting comments.  It may take readers awhile to get used to the magazine since it doesn’t fit into a specific niche, but it is organized clearly and contains articles you won’t find in any other magazine.  In addition to the magazine, Mental Floss also has a great blog with a lot of interesting content.  Recent posts include quizzes (“Name the actor voicing the Pixar character), Top Ten Lists (“10 Actors who hated their own films”) and News (“Do you own the space above your house?”)  For teens looking for interesting stories not typically covered in the mainstream press, Mental Floss is a terrific resource.

Reader’s Annotation

Do you need a cookbook to help you combat invasive species?  Ever interested in how to sneak a cobra past customs?  What does Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino have in common with the fiddler crab?  To find out the answers to these and many other interesting questions pick up a copy of Mental Floss.  You’ll be entertained for hours.

Information about the author

Notable contributors to Mental Floss include:

  • John Hodgeman from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  • AJ Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All
  • Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame

Genre

Magazine writing, Journalism

Curriculum Ties

English, Art

Booktalking Ideas

N/A

Reading Level / Interest Age

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues

N/A

Why did I include this title?

Our library subscribes to over 30 different titles.  I always look forward to receiving Mental Floss because they provide information and tell stories you don’t find anywhere else.  It’s always funny and thought provoking.

 

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