I Used to Know That: Geography - Will Williams

Released June 2011

Reader's Digest

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

My teens sat on the front deck with me as I started reading I Used to Know That: Geography. While my husband and kids are know-it-all's when it comes to geography, my days of a travel agent help me out some, but all of the Eastern European countries baffle me. I simply know too little about them to be even close to accurate at guessing their locations, capitals or physical features. This good is a godsend for anyone who struggles to know some of these important facts.

I Used to Know That: Geography is broken into helpful sections that include each continent, rivers, oceans, maps, population counts and other important facts. We spent hours drilling each other on the capitals of countries throughout the world or even those in the United States. We struggled to name the ten largest seas. While they guessed Black Sea, it is on the list but in the tenth spot, South China Sea is in fact the largest. I'm still not convinced that the Gulf of Mexico counts as a sea though. We also went into the nicknames of all the states to see who could match them.

It is the state nicknames where I lost a little faith and have something to teach the author and the book's editor/s or fact checkers. Vermont comes from the French words Vert + Mont = Green + Mountain. The state's nickname is NOT "The Great Mountain State," it is the GREEN Mountain State. I was disappointed that that mistake slipped through. In the end, it made me question if there are other inaccuracies within the book because with more than 750,000 copies sold, there are some people who are now either questioning what they learned in school or wandering around with incorrect information.

I would have loved to give this book high praise and tell everyone to rush out and buy it, but that slight doubt on how many other errors might be within the material bothers me. It's such a great book, but to have found an error of that magnitude is discouraging.


  1. Hi, I am in fact the "author" of this book. Well I wrote the oringial English version that had none of the errors you mentioned above. The US version is very different from the UK one (and that very diffrent from the original manuscript). I am sorry (and miffed) that there are errors in the US book with my name to it.
    The fact that I am a Welshman married to a French woman with a home in SW France makes me particularly upset that Vert-Mont was not correctly attributed.
    I hope they correct the errors - or ask me to do it!
    Best of luck

    Will Williams
    (London 29/02/12)

    1. Thanks for that comment. Unfortunately, I find that editing in books today often misses critical mistakes. I, too, hope that they saw this and went through and edited it carefully before the next round of printing.


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