Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

28th March 2005

Booked Up
Posted by at 3.44pm | No responses | Uncategorised

Waterstone's is probably my favourite shop to spend an hour or so browsing in. OK, it's a shop, but it contains books, and you can tell a lot about a culture by the literature it produces. This means Waterstone's is more than just a place to get a Costa Coffee and excellent discounts on titles seen on Richard and Judy's Book Club — all human life is here.

First is the realisation of how broad some genres can be. Their “Science Fiction” section covers everything from Isaac Asimov's Foundation saga to the latest cheap'n'cynical Star Trek cash-in novel. In “True Crime”, biographies of Al Capone nestle comfortably next to diaries of football hooligans (some of which reappear in the “Sport” section). Over in “Humour”, you can find Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them, a bitingly satirical tome on the American right-wing media, next to Eats, Shites and Leaves.

Then there's the books you’d never find from a casual search on Amazon, like Metro Maps of the World (yes, I checked and Merseyrail is in there). Or how about 40,001 Best Baby Names — for when 40,000 just isn't enough — helpfully categorised into sections such as “Common Names”, “Unusual Names”, “Names a Teacher Can't Pronounce”, “Names Gay & Lesbian Parents Give Their Children” (eh?) and “Death Row Names” (like Timothy — cos it's Timothy McVeigh, do you see?)

And is it just me that thinks the …for Dummies series is starting to overextend itself? It was fine back when they just did computer books (after all, having dummies working with computers worked out for Microsoft), but some of the latest books cover topics that you don’t really want dummies to be involved in. Nevertheless, thanks to the good people at Wiley Publishing, it is now possible for a dummy to Start a Business, perform Neuro-Linguistic Programming, learn about Forensics or convert to Catholicism. For the lovelorn, there’s a complete four-book set: Dating for Dummies, Sex for Dummies, Weddings for Dummies and the inevitable conclusion: Divorce for Dummies.

Well, it amused me. I left clutching a copy of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, a book which demands further investigation simply because of the title.

And no, this is not just a thinly-disguised attempt to get some Amazon referral fees. Although if you are thinking of buying Sex for Dummies, you could do me a favour and use the links on this page.

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