Sunday, 25 May 2008

William Hartston - “The Drunken Goldfish”

A celebration of Irrelevant Research - and a darned hilarious, laugh-out-loud book. The whole book is a stream of examples of academic research - from as far back as Greek times - that is of rather questionable value (and validity!).
Examples include whether worms acquire knowledge by eating educated worms; that rats are more attracted to other rats than to tennis balls; that pigeons can discriminate with 80% accuracy between music by Bach and by Hindemith; and that Holy Water does not affect the growth of radishes.
The book gets its title from research into goldfish and the fact that in 3.1% alcohol goldfish will overtuirn, losing the ability to right themselves after about six to eight minutes. Not only do they fall over when drunk but they have also been demonstrated to forget things more easily. Meanwhile Siamese Fighting Fish become even more aggressive when drunk. The similarity between fish and humans is obviously greater than I had previously realised.

WILLIAM HARTSON is an international chess master and chess commentator for the BBC as well as the author of books like “Soft Pawn”, “How to Cheat at Chess“, and the “Ultimate Irrelevant Encyclopedia”.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

M. C. Beaton - “Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death”


“A refreshing, sensible, wonderfully eccentric, thoroughly likeable heroine.” (Booklist). Early-retired PR executive, Agatha, aims to settle down to life in a Cotswold village but finds it isn’t as quiet as she thought it would be - and she wouldn’t have liked it to be quiet any way! Agatha’s problems begin when she cheats in the local bake-a-quiche competition…
I love finding new authors and this makes two in a week - I’m thoroughly enjoying GB’s bookshelves!

M.C. BEATON is a psudonym used by Marion Chesney / Marion MacChesney, author of a number of widely acclaimed histoprical romances. M C Beaton is the author of the highly acclaimed Hamish Macbeth mystery series. Born in Scotland in 1936, Chesney now lives in the Cotswolds and divides her time between there and Paris. Her other pseudonyms include Sarah Chester, Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Marion Gibbons, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Colin Watson - "The Naked Nuns"


Hilarious. One of a series of books about the town of Flaxborough. “Sharp, stylish and wickedly funny.” Need one say more?
Written over a period of 24 years there are 13 Flaxborough novels:-

Coffin, Scarcely Used (1958)
Bump in the Night (1960)
Hopjoy Was Here (1962)
Lonelyheart 4122 (1967)
Charity Ends at Home (1968)
Flaxborough Chronicle (1969)
The Flaxborough Crab (1969)
aka Just What the Doctor Ordered
Broomsticks Over Flaxborough (1972)
aka Kissing Covens
The Naked Nuns (1975)
aka Six Nuns and a Shotgun
One Man's Meat (1975)
aka It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog
Blue Murder (1979)
Plaster Sinners (1980)
Whatever's Been Going on at Mumblesby? (1982)

Sadly they are all out of print. Second-hand bookshops here come…
This is one of GB’s books and I have a feeling that if I were to work my way through all the readable books in his bookcase I should be here for a long time.

COLIN WATSON was born in 1920 and died in 1982. He seems to have been a bit of a ystery with hardly an criticisms or biographical notes available about him apart from one website which comments “He was one of the most wildly funny writers England has produced, which is saying something. He was also a brilliant stylist -- he's certainly the only crime writer I know of who has been compared to William Faulkner -- and an inventive and devious crafter of mysteries.”

Monday, 12 May 2008

Kathryn and Ross Petras - “Age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese”


This collection of 350 quotes of wisdom from our elders brings together some wonderful quotes about age, wisdom and happiness from people who have been there. They've done it. And now they share the wisdom that can come only with age:

Full of surprise, insight, humour, perspective, celebration, inspiration, and a kind of offhand, poignant poetry, "Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese" - title courtesy of Billie Burke - shares the best things men and women over 60 have said about how to love, work, laugh, and live, collected by authors with a perfect ear for quotes, Kathryn and Ross Petras, whose The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said, and other titles, together have over 2.5 million copies in print