It looks like someone may have been telling porkie-pies!
Well, remember yesterday, when I wrote about the exciting news of a Bristol academic cracking the code to the Oddest Book in the World – the Voynich Manuscript – and it only taking him a couple of weeks where many others have failed… including Alan Turing…
Now it turns out that Bristol University have backed away from the claims at a hundred miles an hour after hearing the doubts of another scholar who tried the same method years ago. It didn’t work.
So, sorry for the false alarm, but we’re not going to be reading a translated version of this mysterious book any time soon. I just hope that, when someone actually cracks it for real, it turns out to be worth all the time and effort and not just an extended shopping list.
Eggs, milk, baked beans, toothpaste…
BREAKING NEWS: Further to my article a few weeks ago about the Voynich Manuscript, otherwise known as The Oddest Book in the World, this has happened …
Although the purpose and meaning of the manuscript had eluded scholars for over a century, it took Dr. Gerard Cheshire two weeks, using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, to identify the language and writing system of the famously inscrutable document. University of Bristol
Says Dr. Cheshire:
“I experienced a series of ‘eureka’ moments whilst deciphering the code, followed by a sense of disbelief and excitement when I realised the magnitude of the achievement, both in terms of its linguistic importance and the revelations about the origin and content of the manuscript.
“What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated. For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.
To find out more about how he did it, and what he discovered, read the University of Bristol Article:
Written by a philosopher, a mystic, a coven of witches, or a muddle of martians? We may never know…
Carbon-dated to 1420, this enigmatic 240 page creation seems to document a forgotten culture in an unrecognisable language with dream-like illustrations. Some of the world’s most prominent cryptologists have tried—and failed—to decode the text.
If you’d like to have a go yourself, the whole thing is available online.
Take a look at this short film about why the Voynich Manuscript is truly a really Odd Bit of Writing!
FUN FACT : Not many people know that a collection of odd books is known as an ‘excitement’.
Here is today’s ‘excitement’. Stick any one of these on your bookshelf and you’ll never be without a conversation starter when guests come calling.
1. HOW TEA COSIES CHANGED THE WORLD
Though Tea is a Very Important Thing Indeed, I had no idea that tea cosies had actually changed the world, so this could be a real eye-opener. Was it really Helen of Troy’s fancy tea cosy that launched a thousand ships? Did Hitler decide to invade Poland because he thought they had better tea cosies? Maybe this odd book holds all the answers.
One reviewer, who gives the book 5 stars, declares:
“This book rocked my teapot!” Continue reading
In 2014, in a forest north of Oslo singing with birds and swaying with silent giants, one thousand Norwegian Spruce trees were planted. Every year that follows, for a hundred years, an author will be selected to gift an unpublished work which will be printed on paper made from these very spruce trees when they are fully-grown and felled in 2114. Until then the stories will sleep, undisturbed, not to be read by a single soul.
The ‘Future Library’ artwork is the brainchild of Katie Paterson, a woman who creates magic wherever she goes, mapping out dead stars and releasing meteorites back into space amongst other things. So far it holds stories by celebrated authors like Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell who will not live to see how their works are received.
To find out more, I highly recommend visiting this gorgeous website.
If you are writing a book and want it to stand out amongst the stiff competition, you could do worse than give it a really bizarre title.
The Diagram Prize is an annual literary award which recognises and rewards unusual book titles. It started originally as a sideshow at the 1978 Frankfurt Book Fair, and is now a much-anticipated competition, decided by public vote. Occasionally there have been years when no winner has been announced, due to the entries not being ‘odd enough’!
Past winners include:
Strangers have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Shulte (2015)
Managing a Dental Practise: The Genghis Khan Way by Michael Young (2010)
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America by Julian Montague (2006)
Bombproof your Horse by Rick Pelicano (2004)
How to Avoid Huge Ships by John W. Trimmer (1992)
But my personal favourite has to be Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (2013)
from the Amazon description:
Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop is the only complete manual on how to identify, track, defend, and destroy those bothersome brownies, goblins, dwarves, scheming flower-fairies, and other nasty members of the fairy realm.
The Editor said of the triumphant win: “Reginald and I take this as a clear sign that people have had enough of goblins in their chicken coops. Our campaign against the fairy kingdom continues.”
A very deserving (and useful) winner! 🙂
At the risk of being disrespectful to ‘The King’…
If there was a guy who, according to his doctor, suffered from arthritis, gout, a fatty liver, an enlarged heart, migraines, constipation and a colon swollen to twice its normal size, would you seriously consider buying his recipe book? It might make me think twice.
Flicking through Elvis’s favourite recipes you can see why he might have had a health problem or two. There are a few questionable entries, like the Fried Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich, and Biscuits with something called Red Eye Gravy – essentially bacon dripping mixed with a cup of coffee.
But at least the Elvis fans are happy with the recipe book, judging by the reviews:
- “If Elvis thought it was good that’s all I need to know.”
- “I love having it and used it on the altar honoring Elvis last year for my Day of the Dead party.”
- “I‘ve tried several recipes and they are great, just like the King!“
Are you hungry tonight? Errmmm… salad anyone?
I’m breaking the chain of ‘Odd Writers’ to bring you the first ‘Odd Book’. In this series, I’ll be looking at bizarre book covers and attempting to find out if the inside is just as bizarre, or if there’s a healthy explanation for the madness on the outside!
The cover of ‘Everything I Want to Do is Illegal’ (picture found on Bored Panda) features a cartoon farmer who appears to be ranting at an array of surprised farm animals on a sunny day. It immediately made me worry about what he had planned for them, and I set out to track the book down on Goodreads and find out the real story. Continue reading
Margaret Daly was seventeen herself when she started writing ‘Seventeenth Summer’. Written by a young adult specifically for the newly-recognised ‘teenager’ audience, this is widely recognised as the first real YA book.
Romance being timeless, the book was last reissued in 2010. It’s available, with a whopping 4.3 star rating, on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk too.
Here’s the blurb:
A summer to remember…
Angie always thought high school romances were just silly infatuations that come and go. She certainly never thought she would fall in love over one short summer. But when she meets Jack, their connection is beyond any childish crush. Suddenly, Angie and Jack are filling their summer with stolen moments and romantic nights. But as fall grows closer, they must figure out if their love is forever, or just a summer they’ll never forget.
While the romance is pretty chaste and pure, the book was tutted at for portraying teenage desire, smoking and underage drinking! Tut-tut, indeed. You won’t find any of that in my books (she says with her fingers crossed under the table).
And here’s the new cover:
There’s just something about that old cover though… Which one do you prefer?