Posts Tagged ‘books’

The Joy of Quiz | Penguin

17 May 2016

My book The Joy of Quiz has been published. Here’s the blurb:The Joy of Quiz, Alan Connor

• An absolute must-read for anyone who loves quizzes. Alan knows everything, knows everyone, and writes beautifully too. I loved it! (Richard Osman)

• Alan Connor has the mind of an entertainer and the soul of a quizzer. I can’t think of anyone better placed to lead readers through this weird, wonderful, competitive and dastardly trivial pursuit (Victoria Coren Mitchell)

A jaunty journey into the world of the quiz, from the question editor of BBC2’s Only Connect, sometimes in the form of 300 excellent quiz questions

In 1938 Britain started to quiz. Since then, quizzes have become ubiquitous entertainment from pubs to primetime, suffered major criminal investigations, created unlikely folk heroes and been subjected to the rigours of question checkers.

The Joy of Quiz tells the history of quiz and its makers, wonders how we came to make a game out of remembering scraps of information, looks at the tactics of professional quizzers and reveals the shadowy worlds of setters and checkers.

Along the way, it asks questions such as ‘What is a fact, anyway?’ and ‘Whatever happened to prizes like sandwich toasters?’

You can order from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, at Google Play etc…

★★★★★ Connor, like all the best quiz masters, is a genial, companiable host… He writes with wit and fluency… Above all, Connor succeeds in communicating the joy of quiz without taking it all too seriously. An absolute delight. — Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday

Book of the Day: Connor, whose last book was a charming look into the history and culture of the crossword, has again succeeded in explaining the enduring popularity of a curious pastime. The Joy of Quiz offers an entertaining sideways social history that takes in debates over quizzing and public morals, government oversight, and – I’ve started so I’ll finish – the strange things otherwise ordinary people will undergo to win a round of drinks. — John Gallagher, Guardian

Book of the Month: Alan Connor’s hugely entertaining book… gives us a cheerfully fascinating history of the whole quizzing business — Reader’s Digest Recommended Read

An absolute treasure trove of good stuff — Stuart Maconie, BBC 6Music

Today programme, Radio 4, 25 Oct 2016, with John Humphrys and Anna Ptaszynski [audio] [video]
Radcliffe & Maconie, 6Music, 4 Nov 2016
Mark Forrest BBC Radio show, 7 Nov 2016
Signing at Blackwells Holborn Book Quiz, 6.30pm, 10 Nov 2016
Talk, Richmond Literary Festival, 7pm, 24 Nov 2016 [slides]
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Guildford, 7pm, 1 Dec 2016
The Monocle Weekly, Monocle Radio, 4 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Birmingham, 6.30pm, 7 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Brighton, 7.30pm, 14 Dec 2016
Radio 2 Book Club, Radio 2, 6 Mar 2017
Boring Conference, 6 May 2017 [tickets]
Kew Bookshop Playful Quiz Evening, Tap on the Line pub, 8pm, 11 May 2017
Talk, Festival of Learning, 7pm, 7 June 2017 [tickets]

alan_connor_bbc_radio

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned in the book:

The Joy of Quiz

The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief for Gotham

3 July 2014

Amusing and informative
— Pultizer-winner Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

such a fun read
— Dinesh Ramde, Washington Times

the_crossword_century_alan_connorMy book about the fun of crosswords, The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief, has been published by Gotham.

A couple of responses…

“Alan Connor’s Crossword Century is a fun and fascinating tale of language, commerce, culture and play. Before reading this book, I didn’t have a clue about the crossword’s checkered past. Now I can see its extraordinary future, too.”

— John Pollack, author of The Pun Also Rises and Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation and Sell Your Greatest Ideas

“If you love language and history and marvel at the genius of puzzles, codes, and game design, Alan Connor’s deep dive into the crossword will keep you smiling and eagerly turning pages. Connor playfully explores the history of the beloved, gamified fever dream of sentences, definitions, letters, and words that is the modern crossword and reveals the dance that strange invention has enjoyed with its caretakers across history. If you adore words and wordplay, if you see language as an endless mutating jungle of puzzles and experimentation, you need this book in your life.”

— David McRaney, author of You Are Not so Smart and You Are Now Less Dumb

…some press…

…and the reviews of the British edition as a word cloud:

two_girls_connor_reviews

It is available at your local bookshop, or at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, The Book Depository, iTunes, and so on.

And… it contains a puzzle by Brendan Emmett Quigley.

Listen: Think, from KERA

Two Girls, One on Each Knee: The Puzzling, Playful World of the Crossword | Penguin

5 June 2014

My book about crosswords, Two Girls, One on Each Knee, is out today as a paperback.

Two Girls One on Each Knee

It costs no more than £8.99, and I have removed an error, one concerning the PG Wodehouse story with the strawberries. It now begins with some commendations:

‘Connor’s wry, good-natured tone and his commitment to the serious business of play make him the perfect guide to a great pastime’ John Gallagher, Telegraph

‘Alan Connor’s charming, fascinating history of how the crossword went from a space filler in the back section of an American newspaper to one of the world’s most ubiquitous and addictive habits – he estimates that in Britain some 14.7m people do a crossword at least once a week – is the guide you have been waiting for. In a single, gloriously decipherable chapter he lays out with perfect clarity the entire range of rules and devices through which cryptic clues work their magic’ Robert Collins, Sunday Times

‘Connor’s scholarly knowledge doesn’t stop him extolling the vocabulary of The Simpsons. The solution to the title, by the way, is ‘patella’.’ Ben Felsenburg, Metro

No crossword addict, be they a compiler or a solver, can ignore itAlan Taylor, Herald

‘Connor’s book is cleverly constructed around an initial cryptic crossword in which each clue provides the title of a chapter. And each chapter can be read independently of the others. There is something to entertain even the most infrequent dabbler, from a primer on how to actually do a cryptic crossword to the puzzle’s famous fans – the Queen, Sepp Blatter and Frank Sinatra among them – and its connections with the trains (one line in the US used to carry dictionaries)’ Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

‘The brilliant new book on crosswords . . .  Delivers fun galore whether you’re a doer or a duffer . . . Two Girls, One on Each Knee consists of a series of short, sparky chapters on topics as various as ‘Crosswords and detective fiction’, ‘Can machines do crosswords?’ and ‘The many ways of being rude in a crossword’. . . And this is also the guiding principle of his book — it favours the byway over the highway, and can never say no to a red herring’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

‘This book shows you, among other things, how speaking aloud unpromising phrases such as ‘Tooting Carmen’ and ‘Servants Tease’ can yield obvious answers, and how sociable the crossword is. Of course, it can be tackled alone, and in Brief Encounter, it represents the antithesis of the longed-for romance, but it’s also perhaps fun to tackle with two or more heads rather than one’ Michael Caines, The Times Literary Supplement

‘Connor writes with great flair . . . it is nice to dip in and out of his entertaining essays’ Don Manley, Church Times

‘It is the relationship between setter and solver, between words and fun which provides the narrative thrust for Two Girls, One on Each Knee … ‘The experience of reading this book’, Connor says in the preamble, ‘should be equivalent to that of solving a cryptic puzzle…’ In fact it is rather better; it does not demand as much of the reader as a good puzzle does of the solver, but it delivers far more of its own accord. It is witty, charming, encyclopaedic and highly readable – and it can be read in any order. Take a chapter or a paragraph, a puzzle or a clue. In each the reader will find something to intrigue and delightSandy Balfour, Spectator

‘A wonderful little book that looks at the fascinating, often baffling world of the cryptic crossword. What connects Bletchley Park and the Daily Telegraph? And why should you always start in the bottom right-hand corner? Most of all, it’s a celebration of languageJon Stock, Daily Telegraph

Delightful . . .
Verdict: Top rating for odd number of celebrities (4,5)’ Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

A joyous paean to the history of puzzlement and an essential guidePD Smith, The Guardian

Delightful celebration of crosswords’ The Observer

‘A glorious guide that explains the history and universal appeal of the crossword’ Sunday Times, 100 Best Books for the Beach

You can buy it from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, via Google etc…

Two Girls, One on Each Knee (7): The Puzzling, Playful World of the Crossword

7 November 2013

My book to mark the centenary of the crossword is published today by Penguin. Here it is…

2girls_kew_quotes03

…in Kew Bookshop.

Reviews, etc: Sunday Times; Mail on Sunday; Spectator; Telegraph; Scotsman; Financial Times; Metro; Times; Herald; Globe & Mail.

Hear me: on The Verb and on Weekend.

From the blurb:

• How have crosswords helped international relations, caused a strike by welders, become embroiled with espionage and even caused a moral panic?

• What have Frank Sinatra, P. G. Wodehouse and Stephen Sondheim got to do with the humble grid?
 
• What connects Bletchley Park and the Daily Telegraph?
 
Two Girls One On Each Knee• Which famous fan starts each day with the Telegraph crossword and kippers?

On 21 December 2013, the crossword puzzle will be 100 years old. In the century since its birth, it has evolved into the world’s most popular intellectual pastime. In Two Girls, One on Each Knee, Alan Connor celebrates the wit, ingenuity and frustration of this addictive sport and how it has grown.
 
The story of the crossword takes us from the beaches of D-Day to the banks of the river Neva, via Fleet Street and the Old Bailey. It involves the most fiendish setters, such as Torquemada and Ximenes; famous fans (both real and imaginary) from P. G. Wodehouse to Frank Sinatra, Inspector Morse to Reggie Perrin. You’ll discover how crosswords have featured in films such as Brief Encounter and songs by Madness and Ian Dury; how they intersect with espionage, jokes, class and morality; and how they reflect back how our language and behaviour has changed over the last century. You’ll also discover how listening to white noise can help you do a crossword, why you should start in the bottom right-hand corner, and why cryptic crosswords are actually easier than quick (honestly).
  
This is a book about language and how it speaks to itself, twisting and transforming through cryptic clues before resolving itself, with a bit of luck, into an answer. Where else would you find words such as Intussuscept, Obtemperate, Zibet and Raisiny?

You can buy it from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, via Google etc…

Modern Art in 3,600 Seconds at the ICA

4 September 2012
David Batchelor's Christmas lights

See me at the ICA this week as part of Modern Art in 3,600 Seconds, where Will Gompertz will read from his book What Are You Looking At? and introduce guests including Prof Anne Massey, ICA boss Gregor Muir and artist David Batchelor.

  • 6 & 7 Sept / 19h00 / SW1Y 5AH
  • Image of David Batchelor’s Christmas lights on the South Bank