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Monday, 2 October 2006

Bob's One Word Book Reviews...

Obviously, having been invalided out of the blogosphere with a frozen right shoulder for the last week, my recreational activities have been somewhat curtailed of late. Archery has been completely out of the question for a kick off, as has been my daily anaerobic javelin/discus session down at LA Fitness (by appointment to the Late Diana, Princess of Wales, no less..) So, deprived of my usual quota of libidinous self-pleasuring (I *so* wish I'd paid more attention during those triple ambidexter lessons now...) I was last week reduced to the pitifully swottish activity of - yes, believe it and weep - reading.

For those of you who've never tried it, there's not much to commend it - although it certainly beats daytime telly into a cocked hat. It's a quite a simple procedure - the only difficult part occuring when you come across a word you aren't entirely sure as to the meaning thereof - grimplestanchion, for instance caused me no end of brow wrinkling until I realised that I'd actually been trying to read a squished insect that had tragically been caught between the pages. Fortunately, there is no such word. However, such instances are thankfully few and far between and, incipient readers take note, there is help at hand should that eventuality ever arise. Most homes nowadays come complete with a gazeteer-style tome often referred to as a dictionary. These marvellous things are clearly and logically arranged - sometimes even in alpahabetical order - so that without too much stuff and nonsense, one can readily access a definition of the troublesome word in question - although it must be said that this procedure may well entail a further series of cross referencings as those of us not overly blessed in the vocabulary department frequently will need to look up the meaning of a word that has been used to define the word that required one to access the dictionary in the first instance. Persevere though - you'll soon get the hang of it.

A final tip for the novice: one is often forced to curtail the process of reading in order to pursue some unavoidable household chore/bodily function - shelf assembly/nail clipping/owl sealant application etc. In such instances, it is easy to lose track of the precise point of the book you've reached when you are forced to temporarliy cease scanning the text - especially with longer books which don't have many easy to recall pictures in them, for example. For a nominal sum, it is possible to purchase a specialist marker - or bookmark, as they are often called in professional circles - which can be inserted into the book at the relevant point - much as golfers use a small spot to mark the place where their last shot landed in order to facilitate their partner taking a putt. For those more impecunious souls or the willing amateurs among you still not sure that they wish to commit a financial outlay on such a scale during their early flirtation with their new hobby, I would suggest that the informal use of a bus ticket, discarded shopping list or travel card can function in much the same way and incur less of a cost. Apart from the travel card, obviously. It's probably unwise to buy one specifically for this purpose. Try combining your reading with a long deferred trip, perhaps? It is also worth noting that such recycling is, on the whole, kinder to the planet.

So, here's what I've been reading - with a short explanatory note which I hope will be of use to prospective readers of the books in question:

Me:Moir by Vic Reeves: Surreal.

Yellow Dog by Martin Amis: Funny.

Double Fault by Lionel Shriver: About tennis.

An Accidental Woman (unfinished) by Jonathan Coe: Intriguing.

Al Quaeda and What it Means To Be Modern by John Gray (unfinished): Baffling.

The House of Meetings by Martin Amis (unfinished): Sober? Sombre? (OK - sober *and* sombre)

Has anyone else out there ever tried reading? If so, do tell...

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  1. Bollix to reading. I want to know more about sealing owls.

  2. Me, me!! And a bit of writing sometimes. Not much talking though. Dick.

  3. I read Baggage - the autobiog of Janet Street-Porter's early life this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. I'm sure it's very good - it's just a bit *too* cosy what with her connections with the paper, is all.

    Come on then, let's 'ave it. A one word critique of the JS-P book ....

  5. Mr. Swipe, a number of points
    'grimplestanchion' wasn't that Rumplestiltskin's second name.
    I've heard of 'waxing an owl' but owl sealing is something else entirely.
    1 word book reviews:
    The Davinci Code- Bollocks
    Pride and Predjudice- Would
    A Brief History of Time- Eh

  6. But...



    I just bid £35.75 on a rare 1953 sunburst Grimplestanchion on eBay and now you tell me they don't exist?

    Well, I suppose that makes it even rarer. Maybe I should up my bid to the whole £40?

  7. Hang on a minute - what exactly do you mean "it's a bit cosy what with her connections at The Independent.." What's her writing a book about her childhood got to do with it? I haven't seen it particularly over-plugged in the paper. Swipe - explain yourself. Yours feistily - RM x