A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
Words We Pinched from Other Languages
Chloe Rhodes presides over this entertaining exploration among the legions of words, from aficionado to zeitgeist, that English-speakers have pilfered from across the globe. She delves into their derivations and gives witty examples of their use as well as telling the stories of how and why we absorbed such exotic imports.
The World's Most Treasured Love Poems
Selected by the late poet and scholar Suheil Bushrui, the 200 poems in this anthology include Arabic masterpieces by Rumi and Omar Khayyam, and Western classics from Sappho and Homer to Shakespeare and Donne. Ancient Chinese verses also feature, and examples from the indigenous peoples of Africa, Australasia and the Americas. Grouped by theme, they explore the many facets of love – desire and longing, joy and sorrow, and sensual and spiritual love.
Lulu Guinness: 16 Doll Face Boxed Notecards
Since launching her design company in 1989, Lulu Guinness has become known for her bold images. This notecard set includes two close-up face designs, and two colourways of her iconic lip motif, set against a striped background. Four each of four designs.
Hirameki: Draw What You See
36 Placemats for Mealtime Doodling Fun!
A springboard for creative doodling, these paper placemats feature blots of colour that just need a few pencil strokes to become monsters, vehicles or birds. Ideal for mealtimes or rainy days, there are 4 mats of 9 different designs.
Set of Three Notebooks
Known for her bold designs and a colour palette limited to black, white, red and blue, British designer Lulu Guinness’s distinctive style is epitomized on the covers of these notebooks. This boxed set contains three 96-page notebooks, one plain, one lined and one graph paper.
I Like Birds: Family Planner
This spiral-bound planner comprises four tabbed inserts – 52 non-dated weekly planner pages, easy-tear-off shopping lists, monthly budget pages and notes for holidays/special occasions, plus an elastic strap closure. The cover design features a parliament of different species of owls.
A Golden Age of Cycling
A Gentleman's Adventure on Two Wheels, 1924–33
Born in 1879, Pope was a keen member of the Cyclists’ Touring Club at a time when relatively peaceful roads and improved bicycles made two-wheeled travel a popular recreation. For ten years he kept this meticulous, evocative diary of trips on his trusty Merlin machine – from weekend circuits near his Hammersmith home to summer tours as far afield as the Scottish Highlands and continental Europe.
Strange Journeys that Obliterated Convention
Remarkable for their creativity, the intrepid travellers in these tales include two prisoners of war whose escape from Turkey in 1917 was aided by a Ouija board, and Auguste Piccard, who explored the atmosphere via helium-filled balloon in 1931. Also featured are Grayson Perry’s pilgrimage to Bavaria with a teddy bear, and filmmaker Andrew Kötting’s tour of the world with a giant inflatable of his father.
The Good Citizen's Alphabet
And History of the World in Epitome
A is for Asinine, Z is for Zeal in this alphabet written, with ‘no purpose beyond fun’, by the philosopher Bertrand Russell. It was originally given to his friends Stefan and Franciszka Themerson as a Christmas present in 1952 and only later published with drawings by Franciszka. Russell’s playful satire on 26 political and rhetorical words is reprinted here, along with his six-line History of the World in Epitome (for use in Martian infant schools) – a title almost as long as the text.
A Typeface and Lettering Sketchbook
In a book full of possibilities for anyone who loves lettering there are ornate outline capitals to colour in or copy, sample typefaces for inspiration, quotations from great designers, a glossary of typographical terms and lined and dotted pages for doodling, designing or even writing a journal.
London Map of Days
This calendar of events that have taken place in London over the centuries runs from 1 January 1660, when Samuel Pepys began his diary, through every day of the year to 31 December 1999, when the London Eye was formally opened. For every date it gives a fact, fiction or personality associated with some part of the metropolis. A fold-out reproduction of the map on which it is based is included at the back.
Are You Sharp Enough to be a KGB Agent?
In a course that progresses from the level of junior operative to double agent, Spy School aims to sharpen your mind using techniques developed to train Russian intelligence agents. Following the story of a counter-intelligence operation, the book presents a series of documents and diary entries along with instruction on memory formation techniques, practical exercises, tasks and questions on the central plot. This Russian bestseller was translated by Svetlana Shcholokova.
Here's One I Made Earlier
Blue Peter, the world’s longest-running children’s television programme, is known for its famous ‘makes’ – creative projects which transform everyday household objects into toys and gifts. This collection reproduces some of the most memorable designs, including the Advent Crown, the Doll’s House and Tracy Island, and has a foreword by Valerie Singleton and contributions from former presenters and the ‘Queen of Makes’, Margaret Parnell.
The Huns Have Got My Gramophone!
Advertisements from the Great War
Extolling the virtues of motorcycles for ‘lady war workers’ and ‘absolutely waterproof’ trench coats for soldiers, the advertisements collected and discussed here illustrate how the First World War offered companies new commercial opportunities and fundamentally changed British society.
How to Dine in Style
The Art of Entertaining, 1920
First published in 1920, this manual reveals a golden age of elegant dining. Advice on table settings and decorations, etiquette, food and wine is complemented by menus for breakfasts, al-fresco luncheons, wedding receptions and garden parties. A chapter on ‘freak dinners given by wealthy people’ offers a glimpse into the decadent world of the Jazz Era.
Words of a Feather
An Etymological Exploration of Astonishing Word Pairs
Rooting out etymological links between words that, at first glance, appear to have nothing to do with each other, Graeme Donald unearths much more than simple definitions: an investigation of ‘Achieve’ and ‘Handkerchief’ starts with Roman gladiators and ends with the introduction of snuff; ‘Cockpit’ and ‘Cocktail’ encompass ship’s surgeons in wooden warships and horse-racing; while ‘Panties’ and ‘Pantechnicon’ takes us back to 303 CE and the martyrdom of St Pantaleon.
For Who the Bell Tolls
One Man's Quest for Grammatical Perfection
Some language rules are worth knowing – but which ‘rules’ just make clear communication harder? The editor of the Guardian’s style guide cites authorities including Shakespeare, Bart Simpson and Kirsty MacColl as he explains the grammatical principles (not ‘principals’) that will help to perfect your writing. He also advises on the correct choice of words and urges us to resist jargon, euphemisms and the journalistic mistreatment of ‘ironic’ and ‘iconic’.
Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas
Popular Expressions – What They Mean and Where We Got Them
In this book from the Blackboard reference series, Judy Parkinson, author of I Before E (Except After C), presents an A–Z of popular expressions, their meanings and origins. With quotations from sources and anecdotes, she explains the facts – and sometimes theories – behind every saying, including who Methuselah was, how and why people were 'sold down the river' and the Shakespearean source of 'It's all Greek to me'.
The Writing on the Wall
100 Iconic Blue Plaques Commemorating Britain's History
Britain’s iconic blue plaques identify buildings that were home to, or significant in the success of, notable historical figures. In this celebration of individual achievement, Mike Read, who helped create a series of plaques for BBC Music Day in 2017, presents 100 such commemorations, with illustrations of the plaques, photographs and biographical details. From David Bowie to William Shakespeare, each entry contains an often surprising link to the next featured plaque.
Reaching for the Sky
One Hundred Defining Moments from the Royal Air Force 1918–2018
Scott Addington uses infographics, fact boxes and photographs to present this concise overview of RAF history, which includes the first military balloon, the design of the roundel insignia, leading aces of the world wars and a list of pilots’ slang. Each entry has played its part in shaping the service, and the selection reflects the innovation, courage and heritage of the world’s first independent air force.
International Rescue: Thunderbirds
50th Anniversary Edition: Agents' Technical Manual
All International Rescue's fantastical equipment is explored in this celebration of Gerry Anderson's puppet adventure series. With Haynes manual-style cutaway diagrams of the Thunderbirds themselves and the facilities of Tracy Island, there are also profiles of the characters and ancillary vehicles used, and a mission file of all the episodes in the series. Off-mint.
The Wonderful World of Optical Deception
From the illusionistic architectural spaces created by Renaissance mural painters to the op art of the 20th century, this compendium of optical tricks presents a range of images including depth inversions, vibration effects, impossible perspectives, camouflage and anamorphic art. Examples are drawn from the world of psychology, popular illustration and street art as well as the work of celebrated artists such as Escher, Picasso, Magritte and Bridget Riley.
Typographic Gift Wrapping Paper
Inspired by different typographic periods and styles, from traditional copperplate to almost abstract modern designs, this book of colourful ‘typewrap’ comprises ten 680x480mm sheets folded into the book and perforated for ease of removal, and twelve mix and match tear-out gift tags.
Trivial Events and Trifling Decisions that Changed British History
In 1831, 26-year-old Captain Robert FitzRoy advertised for a companion to join him on a voyage to South America. The ship was the HMS Beagle; the successful applicant the young Charles Darwin; the result of the voyage the theory of natural selection. This entertaining compendium of 40 historical anecdotes, whose topics include science, politics, food and literature, illustrates how seemingly insignificant events can alter the course of history.
I Before E (Except After C)
OId-School Ways to Remember Stuff
Judy Parkinson’s collection of mnemonics includes rhymes, acronyms and curious phrases such as 'My Very Exotic Mistress Just Served Us Noodles’ (order of the planets): all of them learning devices for subjects ranging from spelling to the periodic table (the latter sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General').
Inventions that Didn't Change the World
It’s no wonder the ‘Combined Umbrella Handle and Railway Carriage Door Key’, or the ‘Continuous Stream Enema Fountain Syringe’, were never made, yet Victorian designers were ever hopeful of relieving life’s burdens. This fascinating collection of 240 illustrations, reproduced from the National Archives, features drawings of gadgets and appliances submitted to officialdom for copyright purposes but never realized as products. Domestic needs and health concerns are among the many aspects of Victorian life revealed by the quirky ingenuity on display.
An Anthology of Famous Last Words
Salvador Dalí's enigmatic parting question, ‘Where is my clock?’; Louis B Meyer’s gloomy conclusion, ‘It wasn’t worth it’; Hegel’s final, impenetrable comment, ‘Only one man ever understood me, and he didn’t understand me’... The last words of 200 famous men and women, together with notes on their deaths, are gathered here in five chapters on Hedonists, Optimists, Pragmatists, Visionaries and those who delivered a Parting Shot.
Earth to Earth
A Natural History of Churchyards
As protected sacred places, churchyards provide a tranquil environment in which wild plants and animals can thrive even when their nearby natural habitats have been destroyed. With photographs, newly commissioned drawings and passages from literature, Professor Buczacki celebrates this abundance of nature among the headstones, exploring the long history of our churchyards and describing the species most commonly found there, from mighty ancient yews to woodlice (nicknamed ‘church pigs’), graveyard beetles and lichens. Foreword by Lord Harries.
Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards
The extravagant whiskers of prominent Victorians such as Charles Darwin and WG Grace seemed impossibly archaic until the recent 'hipster' fashion reinvented the wearing of long beards for young men for the first time since the hippies of the 1960s. This book traces the history of fashions in facial hair from the ancients to the present day.
And Other Grammatical Grumbles
Greengrocers are not alone, even PhDs can misuse apostrophes: these ‘little things’ cause more problems in the English language than any other element of grammar. By going back to the roots of the language and understanding why we use apostrophes, Patrick Notchtree promises that ‘all will be made clear’, and he presents the ‘One Easy Rule’ that will point the way to apostrophe mastery.
The Best of Jackie
What to wear to get a date with a Bay City Roller (stripy socks from Mary Quant, 75p); how to tell if you're in love; where to buy those bell-bottomed dungarees... This shamelessly nostalgic compilation of facsimile pages from Jackie magazine, 1970–76, includes Cathy and Claire agony aunt pages, quizzes, readers' letters, fashion and make-up tips, and lots of advice on the burning issue – going out with boys.
The Life and Times of the Penis
To possess a penis, Sophocles said, is to be 'chained to a madman'. This light-hearted but impressively researched book ranges across history, world cultures, literature, art, medicine and myth to examine man's relation to his characteristic member. It investigates the reasons why this unruly appendage all too often appears to have a mind of its own - and the joint relationship of man and his madman to the opposite sex.