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Books: The elves shelves

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27453.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:37 pm Reply with quote

Speaking of poetry, does the QI bookshop have the collected poems of Kenneth Slessor? He was an Australian poet and journalist, acting as a war correspondant during WWII.

Some of his work is here at My personal favourites are Beach Burial (one of his war poems) and Five Bells, probably his most famous.

27467.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:28 pm Reply with quote

I should hope that the QI bookshop would have a decent selection of comic books, by which I mean what are being called "graphic novels" by the literati who won't admit that comics have the potential to be great art. Everyone I know who actually reads them still calls them comics, and furthermore Neil Gaiman still calls them comics, and I'm pretty sure Alan Moore does too. The irony is that Will Eisner, who was the first to say that comics could be art, actually coined the term "graphic novel" for his A Contract with God so as not to piss off his colleagues who belittled him for his artistic views.

Anyway, enough ranting and digression. The works of Alan Moore definitely deserve a place on QI's shelves. He was recently voted best comics writer on ( His book Watchmen was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language books since 1923, and is currently ranked by readers as #3 (under Lord of the Rings and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). His book From Hell (please do not judge it by it's movie) is one of the most intricate looks at Victorian England's seamy underbelly with eviscerating artwork by Eddie Campbell. As for V for Vendetta, I urge everyone to read it before the film comes out. An intense look at a fascist regime and the freedom fighter who treads the fine line between terrorist and revolutionary, revenge and justice.

27784.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 4:34 am Reply with quote

Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Ttravelled

Of course this book will be in the QI bookshop.

I just started reading it yesterday and it is just brilliant. I'm so glad to see Stephen producing a book like this.

27885.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 9:24 pm Reply with quote

I've just finished reading a wonderful memoir called Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. His book of 'true tales', Magical Thinking, is also excellent - one of those wince-and-laugh ones.

28475.  Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:26 pm Reply with quote

Chaps and chappesses - here's a thought. It's so obvious suddenly that I'm thinking maybe you've already discounted it. Anyway, here's to a red face...

Think is fair to say that most of us here regard "education" as an ongoing rather than finite process. A conspiracy theorist would say... education is the state's way of controlling the 4th primal drive by deadening it as early in life as possible. So...

Can the loons take over the asylum? That is, place 'it' in the hands of the willing, ready to go. Most elves have left structured education, so they're self medicating, and inevitably you end up taking the odd placebo, or suddenly inhaling something you wish you hadn't. The sharing of collective knowledge could reduce those offputting experiences.

Is a data base too dull a thought? Perhaps starting with an online list of the books stocked in the QI shop. We can then order via the website, rather than Amazon or whoever. It would also allow those of us who'd like to use the club, but are too far to make the journey regularly (perhaps even regularly enough to justify membership) to make a contribution that worked for both sides.

Of couse, this database could also list items that the physical bookshop doesn't have space for, but that you think are marvellous anyway. Now I'm re-reading this, it's getting perilously close to a virtual university I heard about some years ago. Anyhow, onward. It seemed original when I started writing this.

Next stage in the QI Database of Life would be - for my tastes - a list - if not actual encyclopaedia - of the stuff we all do actually NEED to know, even if we didn't think we did when that class came up. The e.g. for me this evening is 'Calculus'. So it's not everything - I mean, not whether a bongo is a mammal/antelope etc - not that that isn't useful, it's just it's not essential. This is NEED to know basis.

The final stage would be to open the QI Spa, which would be a spa for the brain - come for a week or a month - detox and revivify with a course on worrever.

Definitely time to stop. But what dya fink?

28476.  Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:44 pm Reply with quote

I think it's a wonderful idea! It would be nice to be able to contribute and participate somehow.

28477.  Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:56 pm Reply with quote

You wouldn't quite believe how all over this idea I am currently. It's not an easy thing, though, organising the ontology of everything. It's all, sort of, connected together in unexpected ways...

Expect something tangible afore Christmas rolls near.

28498.  Wed Oct 26, 2005 10:39 pm Reply with quote

This sounds like a wonderful idea. I do like the idea of having the stock of the QI bookshop on a database we can access - a bit easier to handle than the mammoth that is Amazon.

Maybe we could make the book database a kind of wiki - enable people to comment on books they have read?

28500.  Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:14 am Reply with quote

Thanks Anna and Jenny! That's marvellous, Gray. Great minds and all that. Or maybe fools never...

Well if there's anything I can do to help, like be a guinea pig, please let me know. Its partly selfish - i live just 12 miles from the club but it's a 2 hour round trip if I get the traffic wrong or use public transport, so I don't visit very often.

Look forward to hearing if there's anything...

28514.  Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:48 am Reply with quote

I shall certainly be rounding up guinea pigs in the not too distant future. We have an idea that we might actually sell the books online, although this might soon overwhelm the bookshop staff...

In the meantime, if anyone wants to write some reviews (a few hundred words) for any of their favourite books, we can include them in the opening version. Stephen's books would be a good place to start, I suggest.

28523.  Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:25 am Reply with quote

May I be so bold as to propose another thought? Rather than reinventing the wheel - I mean Amazon has the reviewing thing quite well covered - what about aiming for a different sort of review. You know the old Cicero/Balsac/whoever else - Please forgive the length of this letter, but I didn't have time to write a short one.

How about prizes once a year for the shortest review - obviously mini-skirt-like they have to cover the subject, so not short for shortness' sake, but must be quite possible never to read a book at all - just reviews - with all the blurble out there in the ether.

A million things have been written about "Siddhartha" but if I read "If I had only enough life left to reread one book, this would be it", I would be at least as persuaded as by the truths revealed in some insightful academic oeuvre.

I'm now running for cover, wriggling into a flak jacket as I go.

28524.  Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:01 am Reply with quote

I was taking it for granted that the reviews we have here will be of a far more quite interesting calibre than on other sites. Reviews which seek only to show how smart the reviewer thinks he/she is will not figure largely.

The category and browsing features will also be (read: are) unique. This is one of the things that makes the physical bookshop so enticing - the accidental discovery of all sorts of books right next to each other. We can even recommend combinations of books that go well together (match or complement)...

Of course in the online world, where you don't have those pesky atoms and 'limited number of book sides' (only two!) to worry about, everything can be 'next to' everything else. Amazon have realised this, of course, but I don't think they've quite gone far enough with it.

29153.  Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:25 pm Reply with quote

Elves - may I commend to you a book called 'Northern Pride: the very best of Northern architecture, from churches to chip shops' by John Grundy? He lives in Gateshead and does a programme on local TV up there, about architecture (although he is in fact an English teacher by trade - architecture being merely a passion of his). He is also a friend of my husband's so we know him. This isn't just a plug for a friend though, as the book has been out since 2003. I've only just got round to reading it, and it is very appropriate for the QI bookshop. He writes just as he speaks, and gets a lot of good information across in a very entertaining way.

29269.  Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:15 am Reply with quote

Agree with everyone ... great idea.

As for lists, how about starting with one book title, 'The Liar' for example, the next title would be a book that someone has read that was inspired by reading 'The Liar', maybe, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', and so one so you end up with an ongoing list of books that are linked by association in the reader's minds in a Chinese Whispers sort of way.

Not a very articulate way of presenting my idea, hope it makes sense!

29272.  Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:05 am Reply with quote

There is certainly a provision for such 'lists' in the setup I'm developing, and I like the idea of one book 'leading to' another. I'll definitely add it to the list of requested (and therefore probably developed) features.

I must say, I'm very glad to see such interest in the development of the site. Good ideas like these are what will make a better 'home' for everyone, I'm convinced.


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