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.
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'.
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’.
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.
The Great Houdini's Puzzle Vault
A Collection of Mystifying Puzzles Inspired by The Astounding Escapologist
The great Hungarian-American magician Harry Houdini won his reputation for making seemingly impossible escapes and undertaking baffling feats of endurance or agility. This illustrated puzzle book presents conundrums and teasers inspired by his work, and describes many of his most famous tricks (such as the flooded tank escape, the bullet catch and the milk-can escape), providing explanations of how he did them in the solutions section.
A Classical Education
The Stuff You Wish You'd Been Taught at School
For those who wish they’d been taught ancient history and classical civilization in school – or for those who weren’t paying attention – here are the basics of Greek and Roman literature and mythology, history, art and architecture, science and philosophy.
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.
Skyscrapers, Hemlines and the Eddie Murphy Rule
What is the difference between Murphy’s Law and Sod’s Law? Why is the Pooh-Pooh Theory implausible? Will we fall victim to the Skyscraper Index? In chapters on everything from politics and economics to scuba diving, Philip Gooden sets out informal laws, unwritten rules and theories, and reveals their origins, the people responsible and what they mean – unless they are as inexplicable as Herblock’s Law: If it’s good, they’ll stop making it.
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').
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.
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 by 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.