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January 3, 2012

“Mental Floss”

by Anne Paddock

We all have our favorite magazines and mourn those that are no longer published (Life) or changed (Newsweek) while continuing to look for new choices.  My favorite magazine is “The New Yorker” for two reasons: the cartoons are hilarious; and the stories are immensely enjoyable to read because the writing is so damn good. Every week when The New Yorker arrives, I get giddy – similar to how I feel when I receive a new book or open a box with a new pair of running shoes.  But as much as I enjoy “The New Yorker,” I am always on the lookout for the next interesting magazine which is how I found “Mental Floss.”

Back in 2001, two recent graduates of Duke University, Mangesh Hattikudur and Will Pearson co-founded a new magazine called Mental Floss” which came about after friends gathered in their dorm rooms to discuss history, art, science, pop culture, trivia and more. Published bi-monthly, Mental Floss is “where knowledge junkies get their fix” in an entertaining and humorous way. Will Pearson aptly describes the magazine as “for the person who wants to know a little bit about everything but doesn’t ever want to pick up a text book in their life again.” So, in the spirit of sharing information, they started publishing a new magazine called “Mental Floss.”

The articles are short which makes the magazine easy to pick up and put down without losing your place or coming back to a story mid-way and wondering if you remember the first half. In the most recent issue (January/February 2012), the cover story is “The Most Important Questions of 2012” which presents topics like “Does hand sanitizer really work?” – yes, but don’t stop washing your hands with soap and water; or “Is texting while driving really that dangerous? – yes; or “If I touch a baby bird, will its mother really abandon it? – no.

There are also articles about garage scientists which is very inspiring, cereals (ever wonder about those two scoops of raisins in Raisin Bran?), winning moments in gym class history (I’m still not over those one-piece green gym suits), 14 Essential Talking Points for the Constitution Enthusiast (Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a signer because he was the US Ambassador to France at the time), and an incredibly interesting article about Grant Wood and one of the most famous paintings in America:  American Gothic.  

Although the magazine was bought out by independent publisher, Dennis Publishing (based in the UK)  in 2011, Mangesh Hattikudur remains Editor-in-Chief and Will Pearson remains President. Subscriptions are $21.97 per year and can be ordered on-line at You’ll get hooked and want to share the information just as Mangesh and Will set out to do.

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