Tuesday 23 December 2008


Thanks for your advice, I've done something which I haven't done in a couple of years - given up on a book. Bye bye Kevin, you're back on the bookshelf, for the time being at least. I know a lot of you believe books should be discarded if they're not working for you at page 50, but I can't adopt that policy. I feel I've entered into some sort of contract with the author - if they've put months into writing it, I can put days into reading it. So I only give up in exceptional circumstances.

And what have I read instead? Well, I actually picked it
up yesterday because the computer was taking ages to load and it was the nearest book to me - but got hooked and finished it today. Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman. It's so modern that it was a website (quirkology.com) and a YouTube channel, and that's more than Jane Austen ever had.

It doesn't sound usual Stuck-in-a-Book fare, and I suppose it's not, but one of the other books I've enjoyed this year was Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. That was a book detailing psychological illnesses witnessed by Dr. Sacks, and his methods of treating them, in a manner which demonstrated his empathy as well as intelligence. Quirkology is rather more silly, though still keen to point out its scientific credentials - it's all about Wiseman's psychological experiments and what insights he has discovered into everyday lives. The psychological equivalent of Kate Fox's anthropological Watching the English.

Amongst Wiseman's investigations are attempts to find the world's funniest joke; see what sort of person takes more than 10 items in a supermarket's express line; how to tell if someone is lying; how your surname could decide your career; the trustworthiness of beards; how pretending to be a football hooligan will actually lower your IQ. Many, many interesting facts and studies, which often make you feel grateful that you weren't a participant (many of the studies claim to be about one thing, and trick a participant into having different behaviour analysed).

Here's one little starter. Using your forefinger, trace a capital Q on your forehead. Go on... done it? Click here to see what it says about you.

A fun, and indeed very quirky, book.


  1. I like your sidebar with books you must read that you may not have heard about. I will check these out. One of my favorite genres.

  2. Spooky - I did all three tests in the link and they were all as I would have expected. More spooky still, I asked son 2, who is definitely spatial rather than verbal and his thunb was the other way round, so correct for him as well.


  3. Phew! I'm other-centred.

  4. Sometimes you have to give up on a book. I feel like I have to finish every book I start. But what happens then is I wont let myself start a new book till the boring one is finished. It's just I never find the time to read the boring book. I find out things to do instead and I end up not reading any books. :-(

  5. I'm glad to see someone else has read this book. It was awesome! My review is here if you're interested. I loved it!


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