Reading - June 2013

Syrup by Maxx Barry (1999)
One of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. Ostensibly a satire of marketing, it is actually a rom-com with a happy ending (I'm always a sucker for a happy ending), in the same way that The Office was actually a love story with a surface sheen of documentary. Nice and short too. Thanks Nat!
The Week (8 June 2013 / Issue 923)
The QI Book Of The Dead by John Lloyd & John Mitchison (2009)
This compendium of fun-sized biographies of the great and the good (and also some of the bad) is very much like its parent programme; choc-full of facts but a little bit wearing after a while. Interesting but more for dipping into than sitting down for a long read.
The Week (15 June 2013 / Issue 924)
Terminally Single by Katie Jenkins (1991)
Every now and then I like a book with a bit of romance and a guaranteed happy ending. For this, you can't beat a proper Mills & Boon. Sweet, unpretentious, feel-good fiction.
Memoirs Of A Fruitcake by Chris Evans (2011)
Breathless ride through the second half of Chris Evans' life so far. Very readable and good fun. You can't help feeling, though, that he really does have the most outrageous luck. Sure, he works hard for it, and is probably the pre-eminent broadcaster of his generation, but, really ...
The Perfect Neighbour by Nora Roberts (1999)
Pulp fiction? It's easy to regard genre romance novels as disposable, formulaic mush - much is - but if The Perfect Neighbour was made into a romcom, it would be a smash - even if it is a little reminiscent of Caroline In The City (I used to love that. But then who doesn't love Lea Thompson?) This is lovely; a proper plot, clear characterisation, no clunky, overly fact-filled dialogue (you know the type: "have you spoken to your brother the sculptor who just broke up with his girlfriend?"), and a good ending. But then Nora Roberts is a proper author and not just a housewife feeding the Silhouette machine.
How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World by Francis Wheen (2004)
Francis Wheen's definition of "mumbo-jumbo" gets broader the further he gets into the book. By the end it encompasses any viewpoint he disagrees with. In general I am sympathetic to most of his views and he puts his points across with concision and passion, but a more honest title would have been "How Political Opinions I Consider To Be Incorrect Have Achieved More Widespread Acceptance Than I Am Comfortable With".
A1: Portrait Of A Road by Jon Nicholson (2000)
Mildly diverting for half an hour, this collection of photographs doesn't seem to capture much of the sense of the road itself. Potentially an interesting concept fumbled, somewhat, I feel. And I'm no expert, but I don't rate the composition of the pictures much either.
The Week (22 June 2013 / Issue 925)
Guitarist (August 2013 / Issue 370)
The Week (29 June 2013 / Issue 926)

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