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Published:September 10th, 2007 03:29 EST

Judyth Piazza chats with Russell Ash, Author of The Top 10 of Everything

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

On a visit to the USA in the early 1980s, I was given a book called The Book of Texas Lists. It contained some pretty strange lists " Silliest Town Names in Texas (Noodle, Tarzan, etc), US Presidents who were Born in Texas, and so on. I thought that if it were possible to compile such a book for Texas, then, with its far longer and more diverse history, a book of London lists would be possible. As a result, I produced The Londoner`s Almanac, which was published by Century in 1985.

In the course of working on this, it occurred to me that while London was a marvellous subject, adapting the same approach to a book of lists on the rest of the world would be even better. However, with this new idea, to avoid its becoming just a huge collection of random lists, I set myself the task of making each one the definitive Top 10 " in other words, a quantifiable list of the biggest, fastest, richest or whatever in every category under (and beyond) the Sun. I reasoned that, provided I did my research properly, there could be no argument about the result " unlike a more subjective list or someone`s 10 favourites.

I started by preparing a list a about 10,000 ideas for Top 10 lists, and soon whittled it down to about 1,000 by rejecting those that were impossible, boring or just plain stupid. The enterprising publisher to whom I described it over lunch commissioned it on the spot, and the rest is history. Over the years it has been in print, the database has grown annually, and the total number of lists now far exceeds that original 10,000.

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