How to Win Friends and Influence Fungi: Collected Quirks of Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math from Nerd Nite by Chris Balakrishnan and Matt Wasowski

If you are looking for a little science education in a fun, light read (or even if you’re not), I’ve got the book for you. How to Win Friends and Influence Fungi: Collected Quirks of Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math from Nerd Nite by Chris Balakrishnan and Matt Wasowski will both educate and entertain.

Balakrishnan and Wasowski are the editors of this title; seventy self-described nerds have contributed the content. Nerd Nites are gatherings that take place in cities around the world where a presenter will share their knowledge on a topic while adult beverages may or may not be consumed. Topics range from shark babies to dating apps to Godzilla. Since participation at a Nerd Nite is, by its format, limited, this book allows all these presenters to share their knowledge over and over with anyone who can read or listen.

This is a book you can read from cover to cover or just open to a random spot and be instantly immersed. Entries are 3-5 pages in length and are (depending on your views) fascinating, sometimes kind of gross, amusing, and always educational.

The Contents pages are detailed enough that you can pick and choose entries that interest you. The first section is Creature Features. Here you’ll learn that camel spiders are not venomous as rumored but can grow to be 5” to 6” long and if they chase you it’s just because you moved the shadow that they were resting in. You’ll also find entries on dolphins, cephalopods, stomatopods, and anemonefish (remember Nemo) who change their sex as they mature.

The next section is on Brains. Explore why certain repetitive sounds drive us crazy, why some people are happier than others, why we hear foreign accents and find what synesthesia is? You will also learn why disgust can be dangerous. Then it’s on to Bodily Fluids. You’ll explore among other things the difficulties of going to the bathroom in space, all the different species besides mammals that feed their young milk and that the shin plays a role in bladder control.

Next up is Doing It. Here the nerds talk about how to be perceived as more physically attractive (wear red), how some animals attract partners, online dating, and 10 things you didn’t know about sex. Health and (Un)Wellness explores topics in medicine. If you’ve got the stomach for it, learn something about maggot therapy. Also covered is DNA, the hangover, the microbiome, and genetics.

You’ll want to dip into Pathogens and Parasites for the zombies, birds, and antiviral immune response. But if you have any tendencies toward hypochondria you might want to skip human parasites. Death and Taxes is really just about death. Learn about Monarch the bear, mass extinction and the algae apocalypse.

Next up misinformation about space is explored along with asteroids, Jupiter’s moon Europa, artificial gravity and the Tagish Lake Meteorite. Tech (High and Low) ranges from GMOs to dating apps to human powered flight. You’ll also get info on Google, prosthetic limbs, machine learning, why we should (or shouldn’t) domesticate bacteria and the potential of nuclear fusion.

Some will debate the next section, Math Is fun. You’ll want to dip in here if for nothing else than is it better to put in the milk first or the tea? You can also hear about gossip, music theory, infinity and cryptography.

To wrap things up the nerds explore careers. Want to be a veterinarian? Learn about all the things a dog will swallow and what not to say to your vet. Find out what Chindogu is, the truth about dead bodies and embalming, and learn a little about animal CSI.

This is a fun, entertaining read and like a library – it has something for almost everyone but not everyone will want to read all of the Nerd Nite offerings.

Find in Catalog

Review written by Patty Crane, Reference Librarian