June 2016 TBRTwo books, one about books, one about the alphabet – you can’t get more booky or a more appropriate start for me for my #20BooksofSummer project, can you? I greatly enjoyed both of these, plunging in as soon as June started (I’ve actually finished another book, too, already this month) and reading one upstairs and one downstairs as I do. So here goes with Book 1 and Book 2 of the challenge.

Charlie Hill – “Books”

(acquired via BookCrossing 24 May 2015)

A hilarious – I did actually laugh out loud and read a bit out to Mr Liz – satire on the publishing and writing industry. Set pleasingly in Birmingham (I know at least three people who know the author, although I seem to have managed never to have met him), the south of the city is portrayed just as well as in his earlier “The Space Between Us“. Professionally sourly angry independent bookshop owner Richard Anger and buttoned-up neurologist Lauren Furrows team up to investigate the mysterious deaths of people reading the mediocre novels of sub-Nick Hornby (he carefully states) lad lit author Gary Sayles, the empty figure at the heart of the novel. Meanwhile, a contemporary art duo who are just as heavily satirised (there are many targets in this book) have selected Gary for their latest installation and project, which will apparently change the face of art forever.

Will the coming set piece at a launch with a difference cause murder and mayhem? Who is going to end up using whom? Will Lauren ever relax and sink into the world of literature? Will Richard stop writing work at the other end of the spectrum – the unreadable end?

There’s a lot of bile and vitriol packed in here, and some serious score-settling, but it’s well done and very good fun.

This was Book Number 1 in my #20BooksOfSummer project

This book would suit … lovers of Birmingham, lovers of literature, lovers of satire on modern life with an open mind as there is a fair amount of swearing and deviance and a bit of violence.

Michael Rosen – “Alphabetical”

(2 April 2015 – Fopp in London)

A history of the alphabet which tracks the progress of the letter shape, name and sound and some random facts and fun for each letter of the alphabet, and then adds an essay on something inspired by the letter, whether that’s acronyms under L for LSD or created languages under K for Korean. The piece of disappeared letters was the best, I think, and I liked Rosen’s relaxed writing style and acceptance of difference and language change, as well as his autobiographical asides.

But it does feel a bit disparate – more so than David Sacks’ book on the same topic from 2003 (which is, thankfully, mentioned in the bibliography). It could have done with illustrations of the letter shape changes and the tenses of the pieces about their history were weirdly all over the place. An entertaining and warm book.

The book’s main useful, practical point for me was to teach me “Righty tighty / Lefty loosey” which aided me greatly when sorting out something on the lawnmower today.

This was Book Number 2 in my #20BooksOfSummer project

This book would suit … Michael Rosen fans, alphabet and essay lovers

I’ve currently started the David Kynaston social history of 1957-62 – hooray – and am still reading about people’s working days. Fun times! How are others getting on with the project?