Book Review: The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander by James T. deKay

Book Review: The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander by James T. deKay

The Natural Superiority of the Left-Hander by James T. deKay ~ a humorous collection of quirky lefty trivia

If you know a left-handed person who’s feeling out-of-place for being a southpaw, then this illustrated book of quirky facts about left-handers may be just the book to cheer them up.

I spotted this gem in my friend Andrea’s classroom. Many people, myself included, are guilty of giving Andrea a hard time about the amount of stuff that she collects. Generally, teachers hoard everything from handouts to books to sentimental cards to anything we think might be useful for any future project for any subject. We’re cool with sharing, so we gather across any curriculum. When I spotted this book, I was immediately drawn to it...probably because I’m a lefty who enjoys my own delusions of grandeur. I picked it up and Andrea said, “That was one of my dad’s favorites!”

Boom! 

I had another book for my Reading Challenge and I saw Andrea’s collection of unending stuff in a new light. 

One of the categories for my Reading Challenge is to read a book my mom loves. Well, my mom passed away a few years ago, so I had been debating how to handle this category. When I saw Andrea’s visceral connection to her dad through this book, I knew I had found a book that honored my interpretation of the category’s intent: read wisdom passed on from a parental figure. 

Looking around at the variety of books in Andrea’s classroom, I thought what a joy it must be to be a middle schooler in her room. Besides being one of the kindest people I know, Andrea has amassed a treasure trove of surprises. Theoretically, kids could spend an entire school year in her classroom and not discover every object stowed away in secret nooks and crannies. She feeds their curiosity! With books like this one…

Since this book was originally published in 1979, the author focused on devices created for right-handed people like scissors, watches, and even phonograph tone arms. With modern technology, my lefty preference and age is apparent to any IT person who sees my mouse on the left side of my keyboard. The look of shock and horror that overcomes their faces is actually priceless.

Taking in some historical perspective, I learned that in 1992, all three major candidates for President were left-handed. Bush, Clinton, and Perot. Any conspiracy theorists want to run with this one?

My mom was a fraternal twin. While she was not a lefty, her brother is. My dad is right-handed too, so me being a lefty is rare. If both parents are right-handed, only 2% of their kids will be left-handed. And there are more lefty boys than girls.

Now most of these facts are not cited, but I don’t think they’d be too hard to verify if I were writing an academic paper. Better still, deKay spends the second half of the book comparing the ideas of various researchers and psychologists. He includes the ideas of neurosurgeon Joseph Bogan and transitions into information on the brain’s two hemispheres. Most of this section nicely explains how left-handed people are more artsy fartsy and right-handed people are logical thinkers.

My favorite fact, though, involved the NASA astronauts for the Apollo missions. One out of every four was left-handed, which seems pretty amazing!

And now that I’ve read this quirky sampling of lefty facts, I must return it to Andrea for her to share with her students, left-handed or not.

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