Looking Back on 2016 With a Copy of ‘The World Almanac’

Reading Time: 3 minutes
World Almanac 2017
Image credit: Ruth Suehle

My kids love almanacs. Periodically they find an older one at a used book sale, and for weeks they carry it around, informing and quizzing us on things that happened years ago. In fact, if you’ve been feeling too young, skip the rest of this post, find your kids an almanac from 2000, and let them tell you how many things that you swear just happened are pushing two decades ago.

But if there were ever a year I’d like to see rounded up, it’s 2016, which is exactly what the just-released The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017 does. Unremarkable years come and go, and then once in a while, you have a 2016.

Some say it’s simply the ever-increasing influence of social media at work, but 2016 certainly has felt different for many of us. And while nothing magical will happen on January 1, these chunks are how we mark the passage of time, and a lot of people are hoping that the chunk we encapsulate as 2017 will be a little less interesting.

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Autocomplete suggests we’re all on the same page here.

(As an aside, if you’ve been wondering when we last had a year like this, take a look at 1986–Chernobyl, Challenger, and a collection of celebrity deaths that rivals 2016’s list.)

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017 includes thorough coverage of the 2016 election (as best as possible — the governor’s race in my own state wasn’t conceded until yesterday). If you think that the day will come when you can bring yourself to relive the last 12 months of election news, you’ll have everything from candidate biographies and quotes to detailed results from each state, including Congressional elections and governors.

If you’re not quite ready to recap all of that, there’s plenty more in history, facts, and statistics to “did you know” everyone else in the house with. Find out the top calorie sources in American diets, the profile of the average American traveling overseas, most popular car color, and how a North Carolina man ended up in handcuffs for failing to return a rental copy of Freddy Got Fingered back in a year when that was a thing you did. (That last one is thanks to the “Offbeat News” section. No word on whether the man is more embarrassed by having it published that he rented that movie than the fact that he was arrested.) The chronology of events covers November 1, 2015 through October 31, 2016.

And of course, there are the obituaries, the topic on which 2016 seems to have been especially brutal. You can’t forget David Bowie or Alan Rickman, but did you know that this was also the year we lost the ad man who created “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” the inventor of the beehive hairstyle, and the last known living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade?

If you’ve never made friends with an almanac before, it’s not just about the year in question. Beyond the madness of 2016, this is also a general reference book for things like maps and flags, U.S. and world history, science, economics, and sports.

Note that this is not specifically a children’s almanac. The font is much smaller than most books, but it is larger in the hardcover edition. There is no reason that children can’t use it, but depending on the ages of your children and your personal preferences for initiating conversations, you may want to know that the vital statistics section does include information on more mature topics, such as abortion rates, sexual orientation, and causes of death (including drug-induced death rates).

If you are interested in an almanac specifically targeted at children, you may be more interested in those published by Time for Kids and National Geographic. But for the long term and the whole family, The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017 is a much more complete reference. And particularly if it’s been a notable year for you or someone in your family — births, marriages, etc. — an almanac to note the occasion would make a great gift.

Disclaimer: GeekMom recieved a copy of The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017 for review.