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Looking to find out something more about the world we live in, instead of gallivanting off into the realm of fiction? Have a look at our hand-picked non-fiction choices.
As well as perfecting your stiff upper lip, the thoroughly English person might also want to get a bit out of their comfort zone in achieving their 102 English Things to Do. How about (after having a nice tea) a spot of rioting or, braving the weather, (cue the Shipping Forecast) try bottle-kicking or cheese-rolling. There are, I hasten to add, some far gentler things to try, apologising and saying please and thankyou a lot doesn’t take much effort and we can all fail to learn another language and eat fish and chips very easily. However, punting or climbing Scafell Pike are, at my age, a bit unlikely so I shall content myself with savouring an English apple but I absolutely refusing to do the very last challenge, boiling vegetables for as long as it takes to lose flavour, texture and colour – I mean to say - that’s just going too far. Like for Like Reading Watching the English: The Hidden Roles of English Behaviour, Kate Fox How to be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils, George Mikes
What would you do if someone bet you they could balance a coin on the edge of a banknote, walk through a postcard, or make you move your limbs through the power of suggestion? Would you take that bet? From Richard Wiseman, the creator of the 350-million-view YouTube phenomenon, Quirkology, comes a thrilling mix of lateral thinking, magic tricks and scintillating science stunts which is sure to appeal to curious minds everywhere.
Drawing on a wide spectrum of topics-including politics, cosmology, the arts, philosophy and religious beliefs, 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think traces the exponential growth of human knowledge across the centuries. Ranging from the ancient wisdom of Confucius and Plato to the cutting-edge theories taking shape in the twenty-first century, this book offers a wealth of stimulation and amusement for any reader with a lively and curious mind. This richly informative and entertaining book provides a wide variety of answers to those eternal questions: How was the universe created and what is the place of humans within it? How should a person live? And how can we build a just society? But 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think also includes a host of speculations that are remarkable for their sheer weirdness-from the concept of the transmigration of souls to parallel universes and the paradoxes of time travel (what happens if you travel back in time and kill your own grandfather?). Readers will discover how the Greek philosopher Zeno 'proved' a flying arrow never moves and the mathematical proof of the existence of life in other galaxies. The inspiring ideas explored range from Gandhi's theory of civil disobedience to Mary Wollstonecraft's groundbreaking advocacy of women's rights. A wide variety of cultural movements are also covered, including Neoclassicism, Surrealism and Postmodernism.
February 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Ten centuries' worth of French historical 'facts' bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066... It's a light-hearted but impeccably researched account of all our great fallings-out. With Clarke's trademark humour and lightness of touch that will be remembered with fondness from A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail, among others this is a brilliant take on the history of our near neighbour.
February 2012 Travel Book of the Month. Presents the 1,000 most astonishing destinations in the world and brings them to life in lively, evocative prose that reveals why the place is so wonderful. This title offers a greater variety of hotel and restaurant choices, including more budget-conscious options. Click here to read a Q & A with Patricia Schultz about this book.
Willem loves his children but finds them exhausting. Then, one day, he challenges them to find games that require him to lie on the sofa. They have the best day ever! This witty new book features an eclectic range of activities for kids and their dads - and all without the adult's boredom and exhaustion that often accompanies 'child's play'. Written from a personal perspective, Willem gives every activity a suggested age range and provides tips and golden rules along the way. The book includes games for at home, in the car, at the park, in the pool, at the forest - pretty much anywhere where parents and children spend time together. All games are fun for both and relaxing for dads, and none of them require money or preparation. After a long day at work, your children can either finish you off or get you to recover - depending on how you play it.
What are people's favourite buildings of the last 100 years? Created by The Twentieth Century Society this beautifully produced, cloth bound book has chosen a building for each year from 1914 to 2014. The buildings were nominated by their supporters and, along with information on the building, each entry gives the very personal reasons why they have been chosen. Fascinating, if only to find out which has been chosen in your birth year. The book was edited by Susannah Charlton with Elain Harwood.
As the author, Kate Sorrell, is a former associate editor of Homes & Gardens magazine this practical, no-nonsense guide really is ‘straight from the horse's mouth’. Covering the home, garden, workplace and beyond half the fun of this guide is simply to open a page and see where you find yourself - you are practically guaranteed to find out some new useful nugget. Save time, money and re-discover lost skills. I’ve not been able to see a copy of 10,000 Tips in advance so can only advise that the author is a former editor of Homes and Gardens magazine so presumably knows her stuff. The book covers advice on improving life at home, at work, at play and how to cope with sudden problems of anything from health to dicky plumbing - all this packed into 416 pages. Very interesting to compare this to Mrs Beeton which I’ve recommended as a Like for Like read, the changes in household management are both illuminating and a great comment on our changing lives. Like for Like ReadingThe Art of Good Housekeeping, Good HousekeepingMrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Isabella Beeton
1,227 QI Facts blew your socks off. 1,339 QI Facts made your jaw drop. Now the QI team return with this year's groaning sack of astonishment. Prepare to be knocked sideways...Orchids can get jetlag. Lizards can't walk and breathe at the same time. There are 177,147 ways to tie a tie. Ladybird orgasms last for 30 minutes. Traffic lights existed before cars. Sir Bruce Forsyth is four months older than sliced bread. The soil in your garden is 2 million years old.
Being a small “instant” humour book there is no bibliography telling you where these facts originate but we now have google so can read up on such things as why Horatio Nelson’s pension continued to be paid to 1947. Harris Hawks standing on each other’s shoulders to get a better view was quite flabbergasting although I was more horrified to read that slugs have about 27,000 teeth. It is, of course, a book designed to entertain and it certainly does that in fine style. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingFascinating Footnotes from History, Giles MiltonThe Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures, Stephen Pie
It seems there’s no end to QI facts or the public fascination for them. Here are another 1339 QI facts, a great gift for the person who has everything or perhaps you need a book for the smallest room or entertainment for friends and relations or even for your own personal enjoyment – warning, it’s addictive reading. Like for Like ReadingQI: The Book of General Ignorance, John Lloyd and John MitchinsonAfterliff. John Lloyd and Jon Canter
Cartoonist, Robert Crumb said; “When I come up against the Real World, I just vacillate”. Well, he can happily vacillate here for a while. This section features a whole host of books covering subjects as diverse as Mankind’s place in the Universe (Human Universe by Brian Cox), the history of the human journey to work (Rush Hour by Iain Gateley) and the real business of reading books (Bookworms, Dogears and Squashy Big Armchairs by Heather Reyes). This is the ‘Human’ section in our book lovers’ journey.
If you love reading, then you’ll find something here to fascinate you. There are new and interest-piquing passages here from science, philosophy, politics, history, religion, and all of the things that occupy the lives of humans. And we mean ALL of them. The fight against Cancer, the fight for freedom, feminism, fatality, frailty and fame. It’s too big to list. Have a browse through the titles by using our monthly recommendations past and present. We guarantee you’ll be hooked in minutes!