Title: Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: And Other Lessons from Modern Life
Author: David Mitchell
Blurb: What’s wrong with calling a burglar brave? Why are people so **** hung up about swearing? Why does putting asterisks in that sentence make it okay? Why do so many people want to stop other people doing things, and how can they be stopped from stopping them? Why is every film and TV program a sequel or a remake? Why are we so reliant on perpetual diversion that someone has created chocolate toothpaste? Is there anything to be done about the Internet? These and many other questions trouble David Mitchell as he delights us with a tour of the absurdities of modern life – from Ryanair to Downton Abbey, sports day to smoking, nuclear weapons to phone etiquette, UKIP to hotdogs made of cats. Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse celebrates and commiserates on the state of things in our not entirely glorious nation.
My Thoughts: I have long been a fan of David Mitchell – his dry laconic wit has me in stitches when I watch him on TV in ‘Would I lie to you’ and his frequent appearances on ‘QI,’ so I jumped at the opportunity to read his latest release. THINKING ABOUT IT ONLY MAKES IT WORSE is a collection of his columns that have previously been published in The Observer, now linked into rough chapters, or themes if you will, with headings such as:
· Just turn on your television set and stay in and do something more boring instead, and
· Some things change and some things stay the same – and that’s one of the things that stays the same.
Of course with such wide ranging chapter headings that each contain a plethora of loosely linked articles and the topics make it nigh on impossible to review. There is always going to be some topic that annoys people and other people love, and this is how I found it to be, some left me yawning – others didn’t. I don’t live in the UK – so ALL of these articles are new to me as I don’t read The Observer – however a friend of mine who lives in London complained as he said there was nothing new in the book for him as he avidly reads the columns, so keep that in mind. However, what I DID pick up was that some of the pieces he wrote may have been a bit old, like events happened years ago – and the information no longer as current – so I wasn’t quite as enthralled as I could have been as he didn’t change the tense when he added the pertinent column piece. He could have said that this happened back then, and this is what I thought and then either tells us if there have been any changes and what he thinks now and it would have added a deeper insight. I feel like a traitor for saying I thought just regurgitating his articles was a little bit lazy – he is normally so funny I think he could have pulled a whole new list of the absurdities of modern living to have a go at. I know too that in his introduction Mitchell mentioned that he was going to be complaining about the modern life, but I expected it to be, well, amusing complaining. If not all the time, at the very least some of the time, David Mitchel is a comedian after all – he kept telling us he was a comedian on more than one occasion. But he did do a lot of whinging and I didn’t actually laugh out loud once – whereas I am always cracking up at the things he says on TV – I did smile quite often – and even related to his parents and their Christmas cards. That was me he was writing about too – no card for two years and off the list you go!! But for the most part it just wasn’t as entertaining as I thought it would be. Maybe it was because it is not a book you should really start at the beginning and read through to the end – which I tried not to do – I was happier when I just dipped in and out of it which is maybe what he intended his readers to do. So if you are a fan of David Mitchell by all means pick up THINKING ABOUT IT ONLY MAKES IT WORSE but dabble with it, treat it like a box of chocolates – read a bit here and a bit there rather than inhale the whole lot – your enjoyment will be better. His voice comes through in his writing and I could almost hear him speaking as I read. I love that in a book.
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C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99