Tag Archives: Particular Books

The Worm and the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith

The Worm and the Bird Title: The Worm and the Bird
Author: Coralie Bickford-Smith
Publisher: Particular Books, Penguin
ISBN: 9781846149221
Genre: Picture Book
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars


Is it even a book read, if it is a picture book? I say, why not? A book is a book is a book. Different genres are still counted as books, isn’t it? Picture books read are still counted as read books according to me and that’s quite alright.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about, “The Worm and the Bird”.  This book is about a worm and a bird (as you might have rightly guessed, duh!) and the different things they want and how they almost get it or they do for that matter. Under the earth, the worm needs more space. Above the earth, the bird searches for something else. And that’s what the book is. Of course, what makes it so endearing are the illustrations and what one doesn’t expect (which I will not reveal) as well.

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s earlier book, “The Fox and the Star” was a delight and so is this one. “The Worm and the Bird” is also about the shortness of life, but it also rings true of how life should be lived. Being a picture book, it cannot get preachy at all, which it isn’t.

“The Worm and the Bird” is the kind of book which has to be read and appreciated by people of all ages. It is a lesson, but beyond that it is also to be read because of the stunning illustrations, the ink artwork and to get back to understand how stories are told.

Book Review: Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities by Keith Houston

Shady Characters by Keith Houston Title: Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities
Author: Keith Houston
Publisher: Particular Books
ISBN: 9781846146473
Genre: Non-Fiction, Graphic Arts, Reference
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

“Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities” was one of the most unique reads this month for me. I have never come across a book like this before, so I may be thought that it was not for me. However, was proved wrong half-way into it. “Shady Characters” as the name suggests is about characters that we often forget or tend to overlook when it comes to typography or fonts or as part of text.

Keith Houston’s book is about symbols and punctuation and characters that have a past to it and how it is linked to writing in today’s times. For instance, it was wonderful to know about the ampersand and how it came to be. Or for that matter, about the pilcrow which is one of the oldest symbols of the world and yet we don’t know much about it. Like how the @ symbol came to being way back in 1971 – this anecdote I found most interesting, because it was fascinating to know about the symbol which has become an essential part of our lives.

What Keith skilfully does in these chapters about each character is bring out the past and link it beautifully with the present and the future. The writing (which I thought would be tedious at first) is only enjoyable and full of anecdotes. So there is little chance of the reader getting bored. There are ten characters or symbols spoken of and each one has a unique story to tell. The reader has no time to get bored at any point in the book.

“Shady Characters” is about uniqueness. It is about seeing the unknown and sometimes most taken granted for world. The world of punctuation, symbols and other lovely characters that make up the world of semantics and otherwise just add a little bit of charm.

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Book Review: Who, or Why, or Which, or What? by John Oldale

Title: Who or Why or Which or What?: A Global Gazetteer of the Instructive and the Strange
Author: John Oldale
Publisher: Particular Books
ISBN: 978-1846143366
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Who, or Why, or Which, or What? is a strange book. It literally is. It is a book full of curious facts and amusing short anecdotes. Something you would like to talk about at a party or when you are just bored. The book is a cross between a global gazetteer (it also looks like one when opened – the illustrations and the facts reminded me of Ripley’s Believe It or Not) and a compendium of bizarre facts.

There is one page covering one country on the face of the earth and with that come various tidbits to chew on. John Oldale has archived these details in a very interesting manner. It is a lot of things put together – funny, informative and educational. A lot of fact-oriented information, which one can discuss with colleagues and friends at the same time.

The graphics sit perfectly with the text and that’s one of the other aspects that get the reader going with the book. You cannot read this book in one sitting. The reader would have to keep it down and come back to it once in every while to lap up more facts.

I normally would not have read this book. I would have in all probability shrugged it away like another useless information manual. However, the book is a lot more than that. It presents information in a funny manner and that is what is needed while writing or editing this kind of book. A good book to have in your bag or while travelling.

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Book Review: Is That A Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos

Title: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? : Translation and the Meaning of Everything
Author: David Bellos
Publisher: Particular Books, Penguin Press
ISBN: 9781846144646
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 390
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

A book all about translation. A book that takes into account everything about translation – from the translated books we read to the translated movies we watch to at times how translation and its need is paramount. David Bellos’ book, “Is That a Fish in Your Ear?” is one of the best books ever that I have read on the subject of translation.

The book explains why translation is required and what its purpose is. It isn’t easy to write a book explaining details about language and its intricacies. What Bellos does is through instances and examples, is for us to understand that translation is a creative art in itself and not just a means to get to the creativity of the original. He at the very beginning rejects the notion of the text’s value of reading it only in its original form. Bellos’ tries to explain that in the end; almost all translations are just roots of four languages – English, French, German and Russian.

This is not an easy book to read. There were times that I had to put this book down and pick up something lighter till I could get back to the world of translation. At the same time there were several things that caught my interest about the book: Translating news into global languages, Translation of cartoons into different languages (a very fascinating piece of the book), How certain languages are richer than the others and yet belong to the same root family and lastly the concept of native and non-native language and what really belongs to us or not.

David Bellos goes on to fit language with the cultural perspective and how we make ourselves understood despite the variance between countries. This I found quite striking in the entire book.

I found this book extremely interesting. It is witty and entertaining. At the same time it brings us closer to the concept of language and translation – both of which are close to us and sometimes we don’t even realize that. This book is not just for people working with languages or communication but it is for everyone who has an interest in languages. It takes into account the entire gamut of human experiences with language and communication in a multi-linguistic world of ours.

Is that a Fish in Your Eat needs to be read for a better understanding of how we communicate and why and the need to understand the essence of communication across the world. A good read for me.

Here is a quick video on the book:

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