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.
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'.
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.
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 O Level Book
O levels were taken in Britain between 1951 and 1988 and are often considered by the people who took them to have been much harder than the GCSEs that replaced them. Whether this is true or not can be put to the test by studying this book, which collates sample questions from O level exams set between 1955 and 1959 in English, Maths, History, Geography, General Science, Music and Household Cookery.
Teddy Bears, Tupperware and Sweet Fanny Adams
How the Names Became the Words
As you lie on the davenport in your cardigan, eating garibaldi biscuits, do you ever consider how people's names become words we use in everyday English? From Achilles to Zeppelin, this entertaining book investigates both familiar and unusual eponyms and describes the stories behind them. At last, we meet the man who gave the world the Hoover, the farmer responsible for macadamia nuts (John Macadam), and Dr Salmon, immortalized in salmonella.
Back to Basics
The Education You Wish You'd Had
All of us from time to time are tortured by forgetting simple facts that we learned long ago, or are made aware of glaring – and potentially embarrassing – gaps in our knowledge. If you still have to think about the grocer's apostrophe or can't remember your irregular French verbs, then this book will remind you of the basic English, Maths, Science, History, French and Geography that we were all taught at school.
Infographic Guide to Sports
Serena Williams may be all conquering in women's tennis but as one of the colourful graphics in this book points out, she has not yet managed to surpass Monica Seles in the volume of her grunting. This entertaining volume presents 80 amusing artworks analysing aspects of different sports, from a diagrammatic plan of the Ali shuffle to the 35 designs of Olympic torch between Berlin 1936 and Sochi 2012.
How to Sound Cultured
Covering the cultural figures you feel you ought to know about, but don't – Sappho, Talleyrand, JK Galbraith etc – this book concisely describes the achievements of 250 people whose names are frequently dropped in intellectual discourse. Arranged by attribute, under headings such as Hermits, Stinkers and Militant Atheists, this is an informative guide to the peaks and troughs (such as mistaking Rimbaud for Rambo) of clever conversation.
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').
As Easy as Pi
Stuff about Numbers that isn't (just) Maths
Numbers are all-pervasive in our world; Pythagoras even said they rule the universe. This guide to the numbers of everyday life explains how they influence our religion, myth, fiction and linguistic idioms, why some numbers are considered lucky or unlucky, how they are exploited in games and scams, and their vital role in the realms of mathematics and science.
The Writing on the Wall
100 Iconic Blue Plaques Commemorating Britain's History
Across Britain, blue plaques on houses record the notable people who lived there: writers, artists, musicians, actors, sportsmen and women, scientists, politicians and social reformers. In this celebration of individual achievement, Mike Read, who helped create a series of plaques for BBC Music Day in 2017, presents 100 of these memorials. Each entry tells the story of the personality commemorated, from David Bowie to William Shakespeare, and contains an often surprising link to the next featured plaque.
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’.
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.