Category > Humour

How To Eat Out

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How to Eat Out, Giles Coren, book reviewWhy would anyone read a book entitled How To Eat Out? I know how to eat out. You pick somewhere and book a table. You turn up at the agreed time and sit at the aforementioned table, pick what you want off the menu, then eat it and go home having spent quite a bit of money and often feeling a bit disappointed/anticlimactic/heartburny, wondering why on earth you bothered leaving the comforts of your own home in the first place. Oh yes, you fancied not having to wash up that evening. Well, that was worth the difficulty parking, the taut discussion on whose turn it was to be the designated driver, and the soggy-bottomed starter that will be reappearing sooner than you would have liked. My book on How To Eat Out would probably run to two words – don’t bother. But this is not my book, this is a book by The Times’ restaurant critic and sometime TV presenter, Giles Coren.


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The 100 Most Pointless Arguments in the World

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The 100 Most Pointless Arguments in the World by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, book reviewHow long is too long in the bathroom? Should we abolish the Royal Family? Should I get a degree or not? Which is the best crisp flavour?

Yes, Pointless fans, it is that time of year again. With Christmas rapidly approaching, and the success of The 100 Most Pointless Things in the World demonstrating that fans of the BBC game show also like to read books, a second offering by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman has been released – The 100 Most Pointless Arguments in the World.

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Moranthology

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Moranthology by Caitlin Moran, book review“When I became a journalist at the age of fifteen, it was a matter of simple expediency. Having been home-educated for the previous five years, I had no academic qualifications whatsoever. As a resident of a council estate in Wolverhampton, this seemed to leave me with a grand total of three future employment options: 1) prostitution; 2) working on the checkout at Gateway supermarket, or 3) becoming a writer… So, writing it was.”

In 2011’s bestselling How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran discussed, well, all things female. It had a big impression on me; a year and a half on from reading it, I am no longer concerned that owning only one dress (the one I got married in, never to be worn again), one pair of heels (which I can’t really walk in), never being bothered with make-up (so many things I’d rather do with my time and money) and not wanting babies (ditto) makes me a rubbish woman.


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True History of the Blackadder

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True History of the Blackadder: The Unadulterated Tale of the Creation of a Comedy Legend, J. F. Roberts, book reviewIf you asked me what I thought of the television series ‘Black Adder’, I’d tell you it was very funny, a real classic that took me through my teens and beyond, and that I considered myself to be a fan. I was not obsessive about it by a long way – I never really ‘got’ the first series but I loved the rest – but many years after it last showed, I’m still prone to confusing my continental colleagues with comments about ‘cunning plans’ and by pronouncing the name ‘Bob’ in that distinctive way that Rowan Atkinson had. I’m not sure what I expected J F Roberts’ book True History of the Black Adder to be, but when Curiousbookfans were offered a publisher’s copy, I put up my hand and said “Yes, please”.


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The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales

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The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith, book reviewIt is probably obvious from the title that The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a collection of alternative versions of traditional fairy tales. Author Jon Scieszka offers “Cinderumpelstiltskin”, “The Tortoise and the Hair”, “The Princess and the Bowling Ball” and “Jack’s Bean Problem” to name but a few. “The Stinky Cheese Man” of the title is an alternative to “The Gingerbread Man”, but the cheese man smells so dreadful that nobody wants to chase him.

The title page has the words “Title Page” set in huge letters, and on the next page the dedication is printed upside-down. The reader is clearly in for an off-beat ride.

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Not Very Bollywood At All

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Not Very Bollywood At All - Richard Beeching, book reviewOne of the great things about having a well-stocked Kindle is that you don’t need to think too much about what books to take away with you on holiday. You can finish a book and just pick whatever takes your fancy next instead of having to guess in advance just what you might feel like reading on a plane, on a beach or in your hotel. For my recent trip to Istanbul I had actually downloaded a couple of novels set in the city but then got the urge for something completely different – in this case a very funny account of one man’s introduction to India as a result of following the England cricket team on the 2001 test series. The book is Not Very Bollywood At All by Richard Beeching.


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Dave Gorman Vs. The Rest of the World

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Dave Gorman vs the Rest of the World by Dave Gorman, book reviewI’m a big fan of Dave Gorman and I love watching him on TV especially his show ‘Genius’. I also love reading his books which tend to be based on quirky madcap ideas. That is certainly true of his latest book – ‘Dave Gorman Vs. The Rest of the World’. It all started when Dave was a little bit bored and wrote on Twitter (where he is followed by a large number):

‘Does anyone play any games?
Real life, not computer games.
Would you like a game?’

He was quite stunned by the large number of responses that he received and the amount of different games that people wanted to play.


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Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos

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Simon's Cat in Kitten Chaos, Simon Tofield, book reviewAs you can guess from the title of Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos, in the latest addition to the wonderful world of Simon’s Cat, a kitten has joined the household. Kittens are wonderful things, so playful and inquisitive, and always hilarious with their antics. But of course Simon’s Cat is not too impressed with this cute new housemate – the kitten grabs Simon’s attention easily, and refuses to learn to behave as a dignified cat should.


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Billy Connolly’s Route 66

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Billy Connolly's Route 66: The Big Yin on the Ultimate American Road Trip, Billy Connolly, book review“Get your kicks on Route 66” goes the song. As someone who grew up on rock and roll and dreamt of the wide spaces of America from Glasgow, Billy Connolly has always had a fascination with the iconic Route 66. In Billy Connolly’s Route 66, he travels the famous Mother Road, and invites us all along for the ride.

Stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 travels through many famous places, and is an integral part of the California dream – travelled by millions in search of a better life on the West Coast, particularly by the “Okies” escaping the dust bowl of Oklahoma during the great depression. Now however, with much of the small towns which relied on passing trade bypassed by the Interstate highway, the road is dying. Some towns and businesses are enterprising and manage to continue to attract visitors, but there are many more abandoned houses and premises.


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Bred of Heaven

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Bred of Heaven, Jasper Rees, book review“Some are born Welsh. Some achieve Welshness. I am going to thrust myself upon Wales”.

Jasper Rees is a thoroughly English man; born in London, educated at Harrow, and brought up to cheer whenever he crossed the Severn Bridge in an eastward direction. But despite this background, he admits to an “unfilled sense of ancestral belonging” whenever he crosses the border to visit his grandparents in Carmarthen. This is what the Welsh call hiraeth – a deep longing to be somewhere (the nearest you can get to it in English is probably “homesickness”, although the translation isn’t quite literal). Jasper’s hiraeth led him to establish Project Wales, an attempt to explore his Welsh ancestry, to reclaim his roots and to live up to his surname by way of a book deal that produced the wonderfully titled Bred of Heaven.

So how do you set about doing something as nebulous as reclaiming your ancestry?


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Sexually, I’m more of a Switzerland

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Sexually, I'm More of a Switzerland: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books, David Rose, book review“Animal in Bed. Probably a Gnu”

Sexually, I’m more of a Switzerland is a collection of personal ads placed in the London Review of Books which have been gathered together by David Rose, the editor of the journal’s lonely hearts column for many years. The collection contains examples that are typically laugh-out-loud hilarious, often sad, sometimes so ambiguous as to represent a waste of the advertisers money and frequently deeply troubling. Sexually, I’m more of a Switzerland opens a window on the psyche of a sub-group of book-loving, self-deprecating intellectual snobs who clearly make up the advertising readership of the London Review of Books.


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God Collar

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God Collar by Marcus Brigstocke, book reviewI’ve long been a fan of Marcus Brigstocke, finding his engaging delivery and intelligent material a breath of fresh air compared with his peers who seem currently to churn out endless clichéd observations on everyday life. “God Collar” is based on Brigstocke’s Edinburgh Festival show that I wasn’t able to get to so I was especially interested in reading this book.

The premise of “God Collar” is that Brigstocke wants to challenge his own atheism; he wants to believe in God but can’t find any compelling intellectual reasons so to do.


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