The Superior Person's Book of Words
Peter Bowler’s 'superior person' has command of words such as egregious, quotidian and uxorious, and 'we yield to him in debate, not because his arguments are more cogent, but because they are less intelligible'. This A–Z of 500 words could set the reader on the road to superiority. The definitions are accompanied by the all-important notes on usage, lest one lose lexical credibility.
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.
Oranges and Lemons
Rhymes from Past Times
In the earliest recorded version of the rhyme London Bridge, from 1744, the first line is 'London Bridge is broken down', no doubt referring directly to the decrepit state of the 12th-century crossing at that date. This diverting volume investigates the origins of nursery rhymes, playground songs and children's ditties from the mists of medieval folklore to the inventions of more modern authors.
Finding the Plot
100 Graves to Visit Before You Die
From the splendour of Nelson's tomb in the crypt of St Paul's to the more commonplace gravestone of Eleanor Rigby in Liverpool, this guide selects the most interesting resting places to visit in Britain, telling the stories of the lives and deaths of the memorialized. Arranged geographically, the selection ranges from the much-visited shrine to Marc Bolan in Barnes to the Leicester car park where Richard III's remains were found.
The Superior Person's Third Book of Words
Why say 'willy-nilly' when you could say 'nolens volens'? Peter Bowler's third collection of verbarian exotica aims to fortify your vocabulary and allow you to assert your ascendancy 'at the traffic lights of life', possibly. Along with practical definitions for words like haptephobia (fear of being touched) and oscitancy (yawning), Bowler relates cheerful anecdotes of eccentric scholars, idiotic concepts, oddities of the intellectual life and the odd deliberate mistake.
Do You Think You're Clever?
The Oxford and Cambridge Questions
How would you reduce crime through architecture? Why is there salt in the sea? Is feminism dead? Probably the stuff of nightmare if you are an Oxbridge candidate, but compulsive reading when your career doesn't depend on coming up with an answer, these are the questions asked at interviews for Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Ranging across disciplines from literature to physics, Farndon discusses 60 conundrums designed to separate the merely bright from the truly clever.
The Illustrated Book of Shakespeare's Verse
This collection of Shakespeare's poetry on the theme of love includes sonnets and extracts from the plays and long poems and is divided into four chapters: on first love; expressions of adoration and commitment; on sorrow and yearning; and reflections on the nature of love. The poems are accompanied by art works that echo their sentiment or mood, including paintings by artists such as Alma-Tadema, Frederick Leighton and John William Waterhouse.
The Unbelievable Truth
Introduced by David Mitchell as 'repentance' for Radio 4's Unbelievable Truth panel game and its 'dozens of episodes consisting of likely-sounding rubbish interspersed with accurate information rendered implausible', this book presents the true, if often rather bizarre, facts about subjects from Admiral Lord Nelson to Wool. Among all this bona fide information are Graham Garden's less than reliable lectures on a number of topics including Armadillos, Isaac Newton and Mrs Beeton.