Richard and Judy, the librarians of Britain

That’s it. I’ve had enough of bookshops. I used to enjoy browsing through them a few years ago, looking up new authors as well as “staple diet” writers who I’ve enjoyed. But the shopping experience in today’s bookshops is overwhelmingly tacky and, well, just overwhelming. Most stores seem to have these tables, with titles piled high, underneath a sign: “our favourites this month” and inevitably there are at least two copies of Paolo Coelho’s wistful musings, and other authors (all of whom seem to share the title of “genius”…) writing about abused Russian alcoholics and Ukranian tractors.

I couldn’t see anything new or particularly exciting, so meandered over to fiction – not my favourite place. And there, emblazoned in yellow and pink and other sickly garish colours, was a stand suggesting five or six books as recommended by Richard and Judy. Good God alive.

Has society plummeted to such literary-ignorant depths that we have to rely on an overpaid, smug TV couple as our national librarians? I only looked at one title – it had a blue cover and, yes, I liked the picture – and, rather inevitably, it was all about a widower and how he’s coping. No surprise there then. I’m not here to judge the quality or writing of the books’ authors – I’m sure they’re very good books – but why the hell are we relying on two celebrities to help us choose what to read? One man’s favourite is another man’s draught excluder.

I very nearly ventured over to the sports section to read a cricket book (spit). Fortunately I found something, after an hour trying to avoid all the arrows and signs and posters demanding I buy THIS book and THAT one: London Pub Reviews by Paul Ewen, a New Zealander who’s written of his experiences and the people he’s come across in some of the capital’s pubs. Perhaps an odd choice for a trip to India, where I’m off to tomorrow, but at least it’s not on Dickhead and Booby’s list…

Books, annuals, programmes for sale

Alastair McLellen, who graciously mentioned the CoU in this year’s 2006 Almanack, has a veritable feast of cricket books, souvenirs, photos and all sorts for sale. There’s masses to be seen…so click here to get the full list, and click here to email him and make an offer on any of them.

Signed books

My Autobiography – Allan Lamb, Colins Willow, 1996 – Signed by Allan Lamb

Herbert Sutcliffe – Alan Hill, Simon & Schuster, 1991 (Hdbk) – Signed by the author

Summer of Swing – Khadim Hussain Baloch (Pbk) – Signed by Salim Malik

Continued below…

Contine reading

Playfair Cricket Annual 2006

This year’s Playfair, edited by Bill Frindall, was released today. £3.99 from Amazon – can’t be bad.

Talking of such matters, I’m soon to review his autobiography, Beaders, which goes on general release on June 1. You can preorder it now though.

What did you get for Christmas?

A Century of Cricket Jokes (Joke Books S.)

Predictable, but fun. What did you get for Christmas? I don’t tend to get a lot of cricket stuff these days – but did get A Century of Cricket Jokes which is a lot of laughs. I’ll stick some up here when I get back to London.

Vaughan and Flintoff top best-sellers

“Ask any taxi driver what books they have read, and one of them will be a sporting biography and the other The Da Vinci Code,” so says someone on the BBC news just now. In it, the Beeb report on Andrew Flintoff’s and Michael Vaughan’s biographies, both of which are now topping the best-sellers in a lot of bookshops.

An interesting phenomenon, the sporting biography. I’ve yet to read either but plan to over Christmas. Basically, the report was saying that being a good sportsman is simply no longer enough: you’ve got to be marketable. So long as the players themselves can cope with the off-field attention, and the shiny people trying to make them a buck or 3, I’ve no problem with it – especially if it increases cricket’s revenue, and cricket’s reach to the public.

Ashes Diary

Ashes Diary

Ashes Diary, an account of England winning back the urn, is released this Thursday. Ought to be very interesting reading. Only costs a tenner – not too bad.

Zimmer Men: Marcus Berkmann

Marcus Berkmann – 9 years ago – wrote what I found to be the funniest cricket book I’d ever read, “Rain Men.” Just been told by my mate that he’s got another one out, entitled Zimmer Men!

Ten years after his classic Rain Men – ‘cricket’s answer to Fever Pitch,’ said the Daily Telegraph – Marcus Berkmann returns to the strange and wondrous world of village cricket, where players sledge their teammates, umpires struggle to count up to six, the bails aren’t on straight and the team that field after a hefty tea invariably loses. This time he’s on the trail of the Ageing Cricketer, having suddenly realised that he is one himself and playing in a team with ten others every weekend. In their minds they run around the field as fast as ever; it’s only their legs that let them down. Zimmer Men asks all the important questions of middle-aged cricketers. Why is that boundary rope suddenly so far away? Are you doomed to getting worse as a cricketer, or could you get better? How many pairs of trousers will your girth destroy in one summer? Chronicling the 2004 season, with its many humiliating defeats and random injuries, this coruscating funny new book laughs in the face of middle age, and starts seriously thinking about buying a motorbike.

Sounds good…

New book by Jonathan Agnew

Jonathan Agnew

Before realising I’d left my wallet in the car, I saw this book in a shop this morning by Jonathan Agnew. Looks quite interesting, with lots of useless-but-intruiging trivia on the great game. On the back cover were three quotations all of which are in my quotes-database (on the right of this site on the main page). So clearly, clearly, Aggers is reading this site and using all my material :)

Simon Hughes’ “Morning Everyone”

Simon Hughes

With a title no doubt influenced by his Channel 4 colleague, Mr Benaud, Simon Hughes “The Analyst’s” new book (out in October) has a finalised front cover. Very much looking forward to reading it after his first two were so excellent.

UPDATE 21 October 2005. The book is now available at Amazon, priced £10.19. For more cricket books, see this tag.