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08 January 2016 @ 11:54 pm
2016 Reading  
2016 Book 2, The Noticeably Stouter QI Book of General Ignorance, read as a book, Christmas gift from Mr B

Edit: the lovely kayoko has reminded me that the main point of a book review is for the potential reader to discover whether or not they might enjoy the book. Which makes this one wholly useless (aside from the bunny anecdote) if you don't know what QI is. It's a British TV show hosted until now by Stephen Fry which looks at the 'facts' of the world and dissects them. For example, How Many Wives Did Henry VIII have? To which the classic answer is 6, but 2, 4 and 5 are also correct, since his 'marriage' to Anne of Cleves was very very tenuous, more of a flirty note, which would drop him back to 5. Or you could take out all the anullments, which would drop him back to 2. Or instead remove only the ones that had no lasting legal status, which would see Anne of Cleves off the hook again and Kathryn Howard's definitely out, poor wee muppet, which gives you 4, and leaves all the wives who produced heirs and the wonderful Katherine Parr who was married to him when he died.

The book is nearly 400 pages of such stuff, ranging across topics from natural history to technology, all treated with a pedantry that is in turns ridiculous and inspiring. Here ends the edit.

I very much enjoyed reading through this, but didn't learn a great deal. Which worries me. I know that, thanks to my job, my brain is filled with random crap, but I had hoped that in its darkest corners the technical details of sequences and series might still be lurking. Alas, it appears that of the familiarity of much of this material suggests that all ability to do maths is gone and that instead a pub's worth of trivia is taking up valuable space.

This is not to say it was a wasted read, even the stuff I knew was informative, engaging and at the very least, the sort of thing you feel very comfortable nodding and saying 'Yes, you see people just don't know that, but it's obvious once you do' to as you read. And there were new news! The paradoxical frog. I love it! And I did not know that Napoleon's greatest defeat was at the hands, sorry, paws of rabbits. Apparently he was invited to a shooting party. Wanting to make sure his honoured guests were successful bunny murderers, the owner of the country house ordered in thousands of rabbits. Hand-raised rabbits. Who thought Napoleon looked like the guy who fed them. And mugged him. That will never not be funny.

I had also forgotten that the first modern Olympics were held in Shropshire.

In all it was another great holiday book, easy, amusing and interesting. Will Keep in Loo for Guests.

Sometime very soon I need to post about my love for Bluestone 42. Which is epic.
 
 
 
kayokokayoko on January 8th, 2016 11:15 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying these posts!

One of my goals this year is to read more real books. I love reading but I have a hard time navigating published works due to how they're organized. The genres don't really help much and "fiction" is so broad. I'm so used to navigating fic archives that anything else is awkward.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 9th, 2016 01:10 am (UTC)
Thanks, kayoko! I love books, and used to spread the love far more, so my goal this year is to be better at it. Of course, reading your comment I realised that my post is NO HELP AT ALL if people don't know what QI is. Which is such an outlandish proposition to me that I didn't even entertain it until this moment when it is suddenly revealed as an enormous cultural bias and bloody obvious ;-). Time to edit!

And your comments on fic archives and bookshops are intriguing. I wonder if we could start cataloguing with Books for Mood: 'to make you happy', 'sad but satisfying', 'tense and thrilling' and so on. Hmmmmm ...
kayokokayoko on January 9th, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
The only thing I know about QI is that it's Stephen Fry's talk show, no? Well, that's the only thing I think I know about QI.

Sorry, talking about fiction has nothing to do with your book review. lol.

I suppose going on something like Goodreads would be helpful in searching for books to read. They have a tagging system, right? I find things like word count, kudos and tags to be the deciding factor on whether I read fic.

Perhaps I simply need to stop comparing books to fic because they're entirely different genres. First world problems.
Jocelyn Lavingroolover on January 9th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
It's not a talk show at all. It's a panel game. The episodes are only half an hour long. There should be loads of them on iPlayer... try it and see! I think you'd like it.
kayokokayoko on January 9th, 2016 06:10 pm (UTC)
Ah ha! Maybe I was getting it mixed up in my head with the Graham Horton show.

I think this is how I'm going to spend my afternoon! \o/
(Anonymous) on January 10th, 2016 09:59 pm (UTC)
The QI Bookshop that was open for some years in Oxford categorised its bookshelves by theme. I vaguely remember Harry Potter sat on the cusp of something like Orphans and Revenge.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2016 11:53 am (UTC)
I like that a lot!
lokifanlokifan on January 21st, 2016 10:22 am (UTC)
LMAO, well you're not the only one, your edit gave me the same vertigo moment of 'you need to explain what QI is??? Oh right, obviously.'

That definitely sounds like the perfect holiday book.

And hey it's great that you know all that stuff! Don't think of it as wasting valuable brainspace. If civilisation collapses you can use it to eke out a living on pub quiz machines.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2016 11:48 am (UTC)
If civilisation collapses, I can grow food and make cloth! :-P

I'm also good at growing livestock, but I never want to eat it. From chickens to sheep, I just end up cuddling them. Though sheep are delicious, I will grant you…

There are people in the world who have not even heard of Stephen Fry. Spooky but true.
Jocelyn Lavingroolover on January 9th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
I love Bluestone 42! Obviously only tried it because of Matthew Lewis, but it was so much better than I expected!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2016 11:52 am (UTC)
I've just finished watching Season Three and !!!!!!

I was a fan from the first ep (which screened here much later than there) and so the arrival of Matthew was a pleasant surprise. My non-fandom friend always calls him Hot Neville ;-) But yes, great scripts from go to whoa!