Monday 20 January 2014

A referencing catch up....

It's been a morning of catching up on some of the quirky little reference books I was sent just before Christmas. I seem to gather a fair few of these, and find them to be enjoyable 'toilet books', perfect for dipping into when you have a moment or two to yourself. However as I have several that I have been postponing reading for the last month or so, I sat down this morning with the intention of reading these..... at least until lunchtime anyway :). So far this morning I have worked my way through Joseph Piercy's interesting little book about the history of Symbols, and Andrew Sholl's more doubtful 'Teddy Bears, Tupperware and Sweet Fanny Adams'. Piercy's book works wonderfully as a short introduction to Symbology, taking examples from a range of areas and showing how everyday symbols have evolved and been adapted over time. It is a really nice little book, with plenty of interesting little nuggets; my major criticism is that it seems surprisingly light on illustrations. There is an image of each symbol as a header for it's section of the book, but there are several moments throughout the text where further illustration could have come in handy. It is, afterall, a visual subject under discussion, so extra visual aids would have been nice.
Moving on the Sholl's book; this looks at common words or phrases and gives information of how these have their origins in Proper Nouns. It is very interesting in itself, but unfortunately I spotted a number of mistakes in the 'facts', so am uncertain as to how far it can be used as a reference book. I appreciate that it is not setting itself forward as a scholorly tome, but even jokey, light hearted reference books need to be accurate in the information they present as fact. I'll quote from the section discussing the origins of the phrase 'Bloody Mary', see if you can spot the two glaringly obvious mistakes here, which caused the book to be flung angrily away from me in disgust.....
     'Mary Tudor, England's last reigning Catholic monarch.... restored Catholicism as the state         religion..... Her niece, Elizabeth I, undid her work and re-established the Church of England.'

Now, in my opinion, this just shows a shocking sloppiness in fact-checking both at the writing and editorial stage. Although it also saddens me, quite sincerely, that any 'fact-checking' should be required for facts which should simply be ingrained knowledge. Mistakes like this drive me crazy when they appear in fiction, so when they are given as truth in a book that is marketed as being factual I cannot even begin to describe how annoyed I am!

Next on the reading list is 'It's About Time' by Liz Evers and I'll maybe even get round to making a start on 'The Rocket Man' by David Darling.

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