Buried Under Books

Category: Non-fiction


How the OED was written – and how a ‘lunatic’ helped.

A tale of murder, madness and The Oxford English Dictionary. Such is the full title of Simon Winchester’s intriguingly titled ‘The Surgeon of Crowthorne’, a book all about, well, murder, madness and the OED, though there’s more on the latter than the former. What’s it about? Lexicographer James Murray is attempting to compile the first […]

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Are we suffering from Too Much Information?

Recently I was lucky enough to see Dave Gorman live at my local theatre. His current tour, ‘Dave Gorman gets straight to the point…the PowerPoint’, is a treat for anyone who enjoys chasing down oddities to their logically absurd conclusions, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Afterwards he was selling and signing some of his […]

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‘The Bookshop Book’: finding delightful bookshops in unlikely places

Did you know that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was banned in China in 1931? Apparently Lewis Carroll’s novel was banned because ‘General Ho Chien thought it was offensive to depict animals talking as if they were people’. If you would enjoy reading a book full of similarly amusing information about books and bookshops then look no […]

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Weird things customers say in bookshops

If you like to start your Christmas shopping early – very early – then take note: this is a great stocking filler. I should know: I found it in mine this year (thanks Santa!) and had devoured it by the end of the day, almost before the Brussels sprouts were cold and certainly before all […]

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Equality: an illusion shattered by becoming a mother? (part 2)

Equality as identical privilege: a parenting utopia? On Monday I began discussing Asher’s ideas in her book ‘Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality.’ She proposed creating a world of genuinely shared parenting, in which mother and father take significant parental leave – mostly independently – then both return to flexible paid work while […]

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How motherhood shatters the illusion of equality (part 1)

Why are women still left holding the baby? Today girls often outperform boys in education and grow up to become women who have successful, absorbing and well-paid careers. They may even earn more than their partners, with whom they typically have equal and rewarding relationships. And then many women have children, and find themselves back […]

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Defending the innocent – and the indefensible

Could you defend someone you knew was guilty? Perhaps it would depend what they were guilty of, or what mitigating circumstances there were, or on your own experiences of England’s legal system. Perhaps it would depend on more pragmatic considerations. Could you defend them in return for money, status and the prospect of job security? […]

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Confessions: the inner life of a successful sociopath

Unreliable narrators fascinate me and other people’s psychological states intrigue me. So it’s not surprising that when I spotted ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ it went straight onto my wish list. What’s it about? M.E. Thomas is (apparently) a successful American law professor writing about her sociopathy under a pseudonym. Originally, she founded a blog – […]

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When will we have enough?

Miserable winter weather always leads me to crank up the heating, feel guilty about it and read a book about sustainable living. Recently I re-read ‘Enough’, which could be described as a critique of our cluttered lifestyles from an evolutionary psychologist perspective. What’s it about? John Naish, lifestyle writer for The Times, argues that over human […]

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