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National Geographic to Publish Weird Book!

The National Geographic Society has a noble mission: to inspire people to care about the planet. It’s lofty. It’s important. But few know just how weird it can turn out to be.

When you’re exploring the world and all that is in it, you tend to uncover some strange stuff—two-faced cats, cannibal stars, and vampire skulls to name a few. It’s with great pleasure every morning over coffee that I sit down to read what strange stuff David Braun’s team at Nat Geo Daily News is writing about.

Who am I? My name is Amy Briggs, and I’m a book editor with the National Geographic Society. I was fortunate enough to team up with David Braun and his writers to reveal the stranger side of National Geographic in our new book Tales of the Weird, which is publishing on October 23. David came to me last summer to see if there was a book to be created out of the amazing stories that his team has been putting together every day for 12 years.

What weirdness lurks inside?

We knew there was potential for a great book—the journalism at Daily News is top notch, so the topic can be almost anything: astronomy, nature, geography, archaeology… you name it. But we weren’t sure of the right approach, so we all started reading to see what might work. (That’s one of the perks of being an editor—you get to read for a living!)

The more stories I read, the more it became clear to me. The stories that really stood out were the strangest ones. These were the ones I told my husband about over dinner: (“Did you know that vampire bats have vein sensors?”) These were the ones with the unbelievable headlines: Stonehenge Built with Balls! Albino Cyclops Shark! Amelia Earhart’s Spit! They felt more Weekly World News than Nat Geo Daily News. But because these unbelievable true stories come from Nat Geo, you know they’re true.

The weirder the story was, the more fun, excitement, and wonder it generated in my mind. It reminded me that the world is unpredictable. We don’t know everything. And the strange, the spooky, and the scientific can all co-exist quite nicely together.

It was in that spirit that David and I put together Tales of the Weird to bring the readers Daily News’ most unbelievable, but totally true stories in one book. I’ll be a special guest star here with David on the “Tales of the Weird” mini-blog and writing about as much weird stuff as I can find.