Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review: College in a Nutskull compiled and edited by Anders Henriksson

Have you ever lamented the ignorance of kids these days? The state of our educational system? Aside from signaling that you are an old fart and a curmudgeon, if you've retained any shred of a sense of humor, this book just might be for you (and perhaps reinforce your assumption of mental superiority).

Henriksson is a college history professor who has taken it upon himself to collect hilarious, often times smart alecky, mistakes and malapropisms from blue book exams, papers, and student e-mails. In this, his second collection, his colleagues have contributed their own store of student mistakes ranging from egregious to hilarious. The book itself is designed to look like a spiral notebook. The insides are arranged by subject and decorated with doodles. The "notes" in each section are short and pithy. My personal favorite is in the literature section: "Frigidity was the only acceptable literary style in Puritan England. This fact certainly explains Milton." And as a long time Milton hater, I have to wonder what is so very incorrect about this statement? OK, not really; but it's funny as all get out.

The wide range of subject matter here will ensure that no matter what your educational background, there will be something to make you shake your head and chuckle. I will say that I can envision people I knew in college writing some of these entries, especially the smart-ass statements. You all know the ones, the "I can't remember the third item in a list of things so if I make up something totally ridiculous, perhaps the professor will be lulled by the first two correct items and gloss over the third or be skimming so s/he won't even notice." I can also see where many of these funny instances are the result of a student pulling an all-nighter, too sleep-deprived and discombobulated to put down the correct answer but coming oh so very close.

Henriksson, in his introduction points out that books like his don't really point to the demise of education or a lack of intelligence. The one comment he made that I did find enlightening was about the numbers of students whose education up until college has focused on drilling for standardized tests. If anything brings about the demise of education, this is more surely to be the cause than self-absorption, inattentiveness, boredom in the classroom, or incoherence after 24 straight hours awake. This is not a treatise about the state of education, it is simply an entertainment, designed to dip into, read-aloud, and inspire some guffaws. If it sends you off to do a little research so you too can share in the joke, all the better. Don't try to read it all in one go as even the hilarity can become tedious. But it is fun in small doses.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.


  1. This book definitely sounds LOL-funny! I think I will relate to it very well

  2. I was laughing at some of these comments, but overall the book makes me sad about the state of education.

  3. I passed this book in Barnes and Noble yesterday, and wondered what it was. It sounds funny! And there is absolutely nothing inaccurate about that assessment of Milton. :-) Any college student who's ever been forced to read Paradise Lost could tell you that.

  4. This one looks like a fun one to have and read with my hubby with a glass of wine. Oh wait, I'm pregnant, so I'll have to skip the wine ;(


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