The case of the 13 books

Maybe I didn't feel it was urgent to read the Sexy New Finds for Your Lips (November Cosmo, page 80), or the Beauty Cheat Sheet (ibid, p. 82) back when we were in the UK in October because I had a premonition that the cows and sheep of the West Pennine Moors would not be impressed.

Or maybe I was too enthralled by the boxes of books that had been delivered to our hosts, Jenny and Bob, by Amazon UK via the trusty Royal Mail and their intrepid drivers, aided by Jenny standing outside Rose Cottage and waving to them with a big flag.

Well, no sooner had we had a nice cuppa tea, than we pounced on those cardboard boxes and padded envelopes, tearing them open and pulling out the, yes, thirteen books we'd ordered. What's wrong with thirteen? It's a lucky number, isn't it? And we did bring an extra trolley to help haul them home.

In the interest of proper disclosure, only 5 of the 13 books were for me, of which one is purely a reference book I need for my work – the much-valued Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, (1025 p., 1.5 kg = 3.3 lb) compared to the 13th edition I had (737 p., 1.1 kg = 2.5 lb).

My other acquisitions, and the reasoning, if any, behind them, were:

Down and Out in Paris and London / George Orwell
Why? No idea. It seemed like a good idea at the time. At the moment it still seems like a good idea. As you will see from the link provided, you can read it online and decide for yourselves.

The Definitive Book of Body Language / Allan and Barbara Pease
Why? Because Tim Roth is cute and I'm hooked on Lie to Me. No, seriously: because, in the early '70s, I found the more pioneering work on body language, by Julius Fast, fascinating. And I was told that this newer book is more comprehensive and up-to-date. So far it's a bit of a drag. But it's not a book you have to read from cover to cover. You can dip into it, choosing the chapters that appeal to you.

Notes from a Small Island / Bill Bryson
Why? Well, I'd never even heard of Bill Bryson, until my friend Trish, complimenting me on my travel blog [Nina Makes Tracks], said something like, "Who knows, maybe you'll be the next Bill Bryson." So obviously I proceeded to Google, and became intrigued. Bryson has written a lot, but this one appealed to me. The one paragraph I read so far was so just like my own impressions! Here's an excerpt from the paragraph in question, from Chapter 1, p. 29:

"If you mention in the pub that you intend to drive from, say Surrey to Cornwall….your companions will….look knowingly at each other….and then they'll launch into a lively and protracted discussion of whether it's better to take the A30 to Stockbridge and then the A303 to Ilchester or the A361 to Glastonbury via Shepton Mallet. Within minutes the conversation will plunge into a level of detail that leaves you, as a foreigner, swiveling your head in quiet wonderment."
Can't tell you how many times I have experienced this exact type of conversation, upon embarking on a car ride in England, be it from one end of London to another of from London to, say, Barnsley, Yorks.

A Short History of Nearly Everything / Bill Bryson
Why? Because I like rough guides to science, which is what this 687 page baby is about. Bryson's easy style is, of course, a marked bonus.

Here endeth my part of the purchases.
We also ordered two fat omnibuses of humorous fantasy writer Tom Holt for our son Daniel; five fat fantasy novels for Hubby, a.k.a. Michael: a Robert Jordan, a David Gemmel, and three Raymond E. Feists. And last but très important, A pocket Calorie Counter, by Carolyn Humphries, to replace one that was falling apart from over-use. (Nah, we don't count calories. We keep track of carbs, for purely health reasons.)

* * *
… so, to make a long story short, what did I read in the UK?
- a bit of the body language book. Interesting, even useful, in small bites; gets tedious.
And what am I reading now?
- Tom Holt's Odds and Gods, one of his earlier stories. It is funny. If you like, l'll substantiate with a few choice quotations, even though they fail miserably – or hilariously – to provide the full picture.


Carmit said...

If you can find it, I recommend Bryson's Mother Tongue. I'm not sure if it's still in print, but I really enjoyed it. He's also written an editing dictionary, which you might find useful.

As far as his travel books, I especially enjoyed A Walk In The Woods and Down Under. Notes From A Small Island was excellent. I particularly enjoyed his description of the Blackpool illuminations, which I recently got to witness. Spot on.

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