Essential Cool Part Six - Books

Take a look at what's on the Amazon bestseller list right now and be depressed. Top of the list of what the desperate and needy are reading is Jamie Oliver, with yet another cookery book. Next, and second most popular, is a book that comes off the back of a viral advertising campaign, with a cute Meerkat. (Customers who bought this item also bought a do it yourself lobotomy kit). At number six, in the UK, is Michael McIntyre Life and Laughing (all the way to the bank) - My Story.

As I said on earlier sermons, Cooking is cool, but it certainly is not cool with Jamie Oliver. It is cool with Elizabeth David. It is not cool to bring out a book if you have been on The X Factor, or Cum Dancing or you are a failed politician with a big ego. It is not cool to be a stupid Bimbo with fake tits who "writes a book".

Then of course there are the page-turners, the multi-million copy very long books, shrouded in pseudo history and usually including the title of someone who the punters recognise, but preferably know nothing about. Credulity is the key here. Make sure the reader will believe anything that leaves them with a warm, fluffy affirmation that they understand the history of the Knights Templars and European Medieval chivalry.

Another bete noir of mine is the "God does not exist, and I prove it" book. In the sixties, it was Eric Von Daniken, today it is Richard Dawkins. You can bet that when everyone is pissed and it's about 12 at night, any mention of God and some twat comes up with, "I read this book that proves God does not exist". Yeah. Sorry, old boy, but when you get to the Pearly Gates, your copy of The God Delusion will be as useful to you as an anal fissure. Perhaps the following list may impress Saint Peter.  Anybody going to Heaven with a copy of Richard Mabey's Food for Free, will get in under the "Eden Dispensation". (caveat, I am not a theologian)

So what is the Cool Canon, and how can you affect to have it on your shelves?

Here is a by no means exhaustive or organised list of books that are cool. If you have not read even one of them, I suggest you end it all now, because, and sorry, you should be walking around with a pointy hat and leg warmers.

Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Glass Bead Game - Hermann Hesse
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Food for Free - Richard Mabey
Self Sufficiency - John Seymour
Elizabeth David's Classics - Elizabeth Dayayayvid
Larousse Gastronomique - Prosper Montagne
The Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers
39 Steps - John Buchan
The Growth of the Soil - Knut Hamsun
Icelandic Sagas - VA
Starting with Chickens - Katie Thear
Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
A Farewell to Arms - Earnest Hemingway
1984 - George Orwell
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
Naples '44 - Norman Lewis
The Bible - (attr.) God
Sapphire - Katie Price (aka Jordan)
A rebours - Joris Karl Huysmans
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx
Out of Africa - Karen Blixen
The Calm White Brow - Eille Somersby

As I said, this list is not exhaustive and is heavily influenced by my own tastes. Submissions for Cool Books that you have read will be welcomed and shall bear the imprimatur and nihil obstat mustela frigus.

Just kidding about Katie Price. Honestly.


Jim Baxter said...

Cool books eh?

Well, none of the above for starters. Kerouac? BEOWULF?


Now, these are cool.

The First Three Minutes - Steven Weinberg.

Parallel Worlds - Michio Kaku.

Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman - Richard Feynman.

Then for relief from light (and its speed):

Hunger - Knut Hamsun

Death in the Afternoon - Ernest Heminway

Der Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse

Hells Angels - Hunter S Thompson

Journey to the End of the Night - L.F. Celine.

The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien.

Raymond Chandler - The Long Goodbye.

Twenty Letters to a Friend - Svetlana Alliluyeva.

The Undertaking - Thomas Lynch.

The Red Hourglass - Gordon Grice.

The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jim. Your titles have been investigated and assessed under the rules for inclusion under the Cool Canon, paragraph three, subsection five, of the Weasel Amendment Act (1993) and found to be perfectly sound.

However, one or two titles may require further investigation on the basis that I don't appear to have read them.

Jim Baxter said...

Ok... well... that's all right then.


There's no 'a' in Hemingway's first name.

On the other hand, there is a 'g' in his second.

So - technically - we're quits.

(Has another look along his bookshelves - hmmm - awful lot of political biographies there - dictators, American presidents, Huey P. Long...).

Nah. They're 'worthy' rather than 'cool' under the terms of the act - none about Katie Price neiver.

Ruth@VS said...

Well, I've read four off your list, not sure if that makes me a loser or not!

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Ruth, you must submit your own suggestions, but four off that very selective list is rather good, don't you think?

Dave said...

what? Katie Price not on your list? Damn, that was the only book I knew about......

Joking aside, you have too many cooking and gardening/self sufficiency books for my taste.

I do like music biographies though
My White Bicycles by Joe Boyd
Black Vinyl White Powder by Simon Napier Bell

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jnr
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Stranger in a strange land by Robert Heinlein

Just a few on my bookshelf that I've enjoyed over the last year