We live in an increasingly polarised mad and maddening world seemingly going from bad to worse. The hunger for “how to be happy” and “how to achieve more success in life” top tips type reading fodder is countered by our apparent preference for bad news over the good, (motivated by schadenfreude, a heightened vigilance for threats thanks to a daily Media diet of disasters, shock value . . . or so the thinking goes).
If it bleeds, it leads
Sam Jordison’s series Crap Towns became a cult hit. Now he has pulled another winner out of his hat – The 10 Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad. It is an entertaining and thoroughly-researched book of alternative general knowledge. Factual and informative lists ranging across the natural world, history, popular culture, sports, food, medicine, science, economics, politics, drugs, divorce and crystal-ball gazing balls-ups are seasoned with tongue-in-cheek personal asides. It is a particularly cheering read if your own life is in the doldrums, or for some Christmas fun and games. So quiz each other and laugh when no one knows the answers: there is invariably someone worse off than you! Continue reading Review | The 10 Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad, Sam Jordison | Book of the Week
“Too poetical that about the sad. Music did that. Music hath charms. Shakespeare said. Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait.” – James Joyce
“What is modernism?” was one of the questions addressed during the recent BookBlast 10×10 Tour talk held in Waterstones, Norwich, featuring Galley Beggar Press authors Alex Pheby (hailed as “the new Beckett” by Stephen Bumphrey on BBC Radio Norfolk), Paul Stanbridge and Paul Ewen.
“Modernism consists of fragments put back together to make a whole out of disunity,” was one answer, “Being aware of the text and stepping outside it,” was another . . . along with stream of consciousness, multiple points of view, dense allusions, ambiguity and a phenomenal play of words on the page. Continue reading Review | Dedalus, Chris McCabe | Book of the Week
Meet in person the indie publisher, Elizabeth Briggs, from Saqi Books, at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Birmingham, 24-26 High Street, B4 7SL @Bhamwaterstones 6.30 p.m. Thursday 25 October. Theme: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write with reference to the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. With poets Nafeesa Hamid and Aliyah Holder. Book Tickets
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Worcester, where I lived until I left for university in the North East of England at seventeen. Determined as ‘Britain’s most average constituency’ by the BBC last year, it’s not bad coming from a city whose place on the international stage is thanks to a great sauce and Edward Elgar.
What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. I was very lucky. We had these incredible encyclopedias of animals from around the world, which I used to spend hours pouring over and copying the pictures. They were shelved alongside an illustrated bible, which I didn’t think at all odd at the time. It never occurred to me as a child that people took stories from the old testament as gospel: I thought they were wild and strange fantasy at the time – violent and bloody, the kind of things I wasn’t allowed to watch on TV. My dad also has an astonishing collection of moldy orange Penguin original paperbacks, bought back when they cost 85p each. I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie. I also have two older sisters so could borrow their books too. I read The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst when it first came out (I was twelve at the time), which was eye-opening. Continue reading Interview | Elizabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager, Saqi Books | Indie Publisher of the Week