Good Reading : July 2007
12 goodreading ı JULY 2007 book trivia By Hook or by Crook David Crystal has spent a lifetime studying the English language, its history, structure, stories and vagaries. His latest book, By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English, was inspired by reading WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn and is a self-styled ‘linguistic travelogue’, a journey around England, Wales and Scotland exploring linguistic side roads.The result is delightful. Among many others, he tells the amazing story of Rachel Berwick, Professor of Sculpture at Yale University, who made and exhibited a living sculpture of two Amazonian parrots who spoke the Maypure words she spent two years teaching them (from Alexander Von Humboldt’s phonetic tran- scriptions), to focus public attention on the plight of dead and dying languages. He explains the reasoning behind some apparently wayward spelling in the English language, examines the provenance of sayings, and most of all looks at the myriad regional accents in Britain. At one stage, he writes, he was ‘travelling at twelve accents an hour’. By Hook or by Crook is published by HarperCollins, rrp $29.99. From lit to litter Much-loved author Bill Bryson looks set to be the new president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. ‘I hope to take up the post on 9 July,’ writes Bryson on the CPRE website. ‘I’ve long admired the great work CPRE does to protect and enhance the countryside. I absolutely hate litter and fly-tipping. I want to campaign against them during my presidency. Other countries have virtually eliminated litter from their landscapes. There is no reason why we can’t do as much here.’ Despite the disappointment his many fans will feel to hear that he doesn’t have another book in him at the moment (although hisShakespeare: A Short Life will be published in September), they’ll no doubt admire his new goal. Now how can we entice Bill to come here and do the same? THAT book … Okay, we can’t let July go by without at least a mention of that book. We refer, of course, to the ﬁnal book in the seven- volume Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released on 21 July, and bookshops all around the country are putting on special events and activities that will no doubt be highly anticipated by people of all ages. We can’t wait to read this book – but the sixty-four thousand dollar question is, will it really be the ﬁnal in the series? Philosophical FAQs Twenty-two philosophers from such uni- versities as Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Cambridge, all members of www. amherstedu/askphilosophers, answer the most commonly asked questions from the lay population in a wise and witty new book edited by the Professor of Philosophy at Amherst College, Alexander George: I Am,Therefore I Think. Divided into five sections headed ‘What Can I Know?’ ‘What Ought I To Do?’ ‘What May I Hope?’ ‘What Is Man?’ and ‘One Last, But Not Final, Question’ (which, amusingly, is ‘Why do philosophers make seemingly simple questions so complicated and confusing?), the book addresses such questions as ‘Can machines have knowledge?’ ‘What happens to a moment of time after it occurs?’ and ‘How do philosophers justify war, if they ever do?’ I Am,Therefore I Think is published by Sceptre, rrp $35.00. Classics for all After the success of their repackaging of the work of Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen, publishers Headline Classics (a division of Hachette Livre) are releasing four more classic novels aimed at the masses, not the few: The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton, King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.