Non-fiction: November 2007 Archives

David Parlett's The A-Z of Card Games, published in Oxford Paperback Reference series, is the best compilation of card game rules I've ever seen, at least in book format. The book is full of interesting games from all around the world - the book has some Finnish games, too! It's an intelligent book and takes card games seriously, unlike many other rule books that seem to be written on autopilot.

Parlett's book passes even the hardest test: it includes few games played with the Tarot pack. That's something fairly rare and always a sign of a good book. This book isn't perfect, though: there are some errors in the rules, but fortunately those are fairly rare. Parlett's style isn't probably the easiest, so I'd recommend this book to people who already know how to play card games and want to learn new, interesting games. This isn't the best first book for card game newbies. [ The A-Z of Card Games (Oxford Paperback Reference) at ]The A-Z of Card Games at LibraryThing ]

This novel by Nobelist Yasunari Kawabata is a mixture of real-world events and fiction: it is a description of a real-world Go match, fought in 1938 between Honinbo Shusai and Minoru Kitani. Kawabata was present at the game, reporting it to the newspaper that had organized the match. In this book, Kawabata has taken certain liberties, though: some names and events have been changed, there's a dose of fiction in the story.

Fiction or not, it is a beautiful story. Kawabata's style is subtle and even though not much happens in the book, it is an intriguing tale that hooks the reader as the events unfold both on the Go board and outside it. The Go match is in the focus, yet at the same time Kawabata offers so much more: the clash between tradition and modern rationalism and the struggle between two strong personalities.

I don't know how much one can enjoy the book without any knowledge of Go. Go was the reason I read this book, and I was satisfied - the match was very central to the story. The story is, however, very beautiful and Kawabata - or at least the translator Edward Seidensticker - knows his way with words, so it was a pleasure to read, Go or no Go. [ The Master of Go at ]The Master of Go at LibraryThing ]

The Word Detective is Evan Morris' newspaper column and web site, devoted to finding out where different words and phrases originate. This book is a collection of his columns, but basically reads like a dictionary of curious sayings.

Morris has a light, humorous tone, which makes reading this book a fun experience. Well, if you read through the book at one sitting, you'll probably get a bit tired of his mock replies, followed by "just kidding, here's the real thing". Still, I like his style.

What comes to the content, the book is indeed a nice collection of strange words and phrases, explained usually in a rather satisfying way. Any etymology fans should definitely read this book, unless they've been closely following Morris' column and web site. [ The Word Detective: Solving the Mysteries Behind Those Pesky Phrases at ]The Word Detective at LibraryThing ]

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