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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

The Books of 2006

Since many of the Pattaya Mail’s correspondents have given us their choices/momentous occasions from 2006, it is not too late for me to give you my impressions of the books of the year.
Actually this was a very difficult task, as there were many categories of books reviewed during 2006. Information manuals, who dunnits, thrillers, in fact the whole gamut of the Bookazine shelves.
I will not keep you in suspense, such as Stephen Leather’s “Cold Kill” (ISBN 0-340-83412-9, Hodder and Stoughton), did so masterfully, but my ultimate pick for the 2006 book of the year was not even published in 2006, but was a re-release in hard cover, and was Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, (ISBN 0-385-60961-2, Doubleday Books).
Bryson has a wonderfully irreverent way of looking at things (“nearly everything”) even pontificating as to the spread of syphilis in a monastery in Hull or telling the reader about the Geology professor who had to run a curio shop to keep bread on the family table, while he continued, unfunded, to work out a method to date rocks. Pick up the book and open anywhere and you will be amused, entertained and edified.
If you have the smallest spark of interest in how we (homo sapiens) got here, or how ‘here’ evolved into what it is today, then this book is for you. Bryson makes even the driest subjects enthralling. He devoted three years of his life to do this. It is worth a few days of yours to read it.
The review copy had an RRP of 1550 baht. Expensive I know, but worth every baht for a lifetime of information. Buy it for your children (as well as yourself).
Another book with a similar vein of humor running right through it was “The World According to Clarkson” (ISBN 0-141-01789-9, Penguin Books). Adjectives such as acerbic, sharp, cutting, caustic, acid, and more in that poison chalice, can be used to describe Clarkson’s chapters.
The French, the Germans and the Basques all cop their (un)fair share of Clarkson’s rapier. In one wonderfully massive hit out at the goddess of PC, he writes, “It might be useful too, if we could find a universal butt for European wit. We have the Irish, the Swedes have the Norwegians, the Dutch have the Belgians and so on. What we need is a universal whipping boy so that jokes translate smoothly.” At B. 395 it is a very cheap book of laughs.
A book with droll black humor was “Chart Throb” from Ben Elton (ISBN 0-593-05750-3, 2006, Bantam Press) a weighty paperback dealing with the television industry and the so-called stars of the medium. The black humor runs non-stop through the book. Quiz contestants being described as “Damaged, hopelessly inadequate, almost certainly drug addicted borderline mental case who had lived an appalling life of deprivation and abuse.” And while it is humor, and black at that, it still accurately shows what goes on behind the scenes in television.
Finally, The Ambassador’s Wife, (ISBN 974-93750-8-4), written by Jake Needham, gave the reader a classic ‘who-dunnit’ which will keep you turning pages, and keeps you guessing to the end. A great read.