A book I wish I’d written …

Now don’t get me wrong, as someone who gave up English lessons at O-level, and has only written reports and policy documents, newsletters and blog posts (of course) since, I really don’t think I have a novel in me. More correctly, at the moment I don’t have a novel in me – much as I’d love to do some creative writing. However, being a quiz-fiend, and fan of good reference books, I have long thought I could write either a fun non-fiction book or a quiz book. In fact in the past I have started compiling some…

Turn your mind back to 2002 when a small, fun reference book became a bestseller… That was Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott. It inspired many  imitators like Shite’s Unoriginal Miscellany, and also sequels and spin-offs by Schott himself.

A few years earlier, I was busy compiling quiz questions on a quiz database and thought, wouldn’t it be great to compile a book of miscellaneous interesting facts – I was thinking of Russell Ash’s books, the Top Ten of Everything series – useful, but mine would be quirkier.  So I have a file full of listy articles about James Bond villains, what the job titles in film credits mean, bands and album names taken from Shakespeare, the colours of Quality Street wrappers, how different languages say ‘Bless you’ when you sneeze, and many more.  Yes, I could have written that book – I like to think so anyway, but Schott beat me to it – and did it so well.  His miscellanies have a great style, and are good fun.

Jump several years, and I was toying with another idea – presenting book titles in graphical form – I was thinking along the lines of …

… obviously I would have got an illustrator to do the graphics nicely.  However, again I never really got the idea off the ground, discovering that it is pretty well covered with books like Pop Charts by Paul Copperwaite, which I actually blogged about here a couple of years ago. I don’t think anyone’s done one about books specifically though – so maybe there is a place for my ideas somewhere (!).

Today I was in the bookshop and I spotted this book, hot off the press and into shops for Chr***mas shopping, and thought “I wish I’d had this idea” – which combines Schott and the Pop Charts concepts into one lovely book. Infographica by Martin and Simon Toseland has some wonderfully quirky lists and lots of stylish graphic design – featuring Political dictators and their beards, the Scobell chilli heat scale, fastest tennis serves amongst its delights, and ones such as the spread below:

Irresistible! It’s now on my shelves – I couldn’t wait for Christmas, however, I would recommend it to you as a nice present idea that is fun, and good to look at, even if it ends up as a toilet book!

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To explore any of the titles mentioned on Amazon UK, please click below:
Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott (2002)
Shite’s Unoriginal Miscellany by Antal Parody (2003)
Top 10 of Everything 2012: Discover More Than Just the No. 1! by Russell Ash
Pop Charts by Paul Copperwaite
Infographica: Visualizing a World of Information by Martin & Simon Toseland. Pub 8th Nov 2012 by Quercus, full colour paperback, 208 pages.

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