Thursday, 6 October 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Odd

What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read?
Did you like it? Hate it?  Did it make you think?

The questions come from Deb at Booking Through Thursday.

The first answer that popped up in my mind as soon as I read the question was Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, which was first published in nine volumes between 1759-1767.

The full title of the work is:
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.


I read it in my third term of university English, which was close to 30 years ago. So off-hand I can’t really recall more than my general impression. Which was – odd! I did not hate it, though. In fact I think I quite liked it. And it did make me think.


Among the things I remember is that it includes some strange graphics such as black pages, blank pages, hand-drawn lines – and lots of digressions.


In fact, the telling of the story takes precedence over the actual story. And that, I suppose, is more or less the whole point!

I still have it in my bookshelf, so here is an excerpt:

From Tristram Shandy; Volume I, Chapter 22.
In my copy of the book, I have added in my own handwriting:
“Digression on digressions”!

Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;—they are the  life, the soul of reading;—take them out of this book for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them;—one cold eternal winter would reign in every page of it; restore them to the writer;—he steps  forth like a bridegroom,—bids All hail; brings in variety, and forbids the appetite to fail.
   All the dexterity is in the good cookery and management of them, so as to be not only for the advantage of the reader, but also of the author, whose distress, in this matter, is truly pitiable: For, if he begins a digression,—from that moment, I observe, his whole work stands still;—and if he goes on with his main work,—then there is an end of his digression.
  —–This is vile work.—For which reason, from the beginning of this, you see, I have constructed the main work and the adventitious parts of it with such intersections, and have so complicated and involved the digressive and progressive movements, one wheel within another, that the whole machine, in general, has been kept a-going;—and, what’s more, it shall be kept a-going these forty years, if it pleases the fountain of health to bless me so long with life and good spirits.

Pictures borrowed from a web page by Glasgow University Library.


  1. Mine is White Light by Rudy Rucker.
    I loved it.

  2. I had a difficult time trying to think of an odd book I read, but finally thought of one, at least I thought it was odd.

  3. i have not read a book that was odd, or at least not odd to me, but I have read books that i loved that would seem odd to others. i must say the excerpt on this might as well have been written in Swedish for all the understanding i had of it. and it does fit the word ODD perfectly. and to me it is ODD you managed to read it.

  4. Sandra, it was my 'job' to read it back then... If I hadn't, I would not have got my degree! ;)

  5. Well, I've heard of "Tristram Shandy" before, but this actually makes me want to read it! Hope you'll stop by and check out my "odd" book. :)

    Cindy @ Cindy's Book Club

  6. I've read a number of odd books but Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams has stuck with me.

  7. Here's mine:

  8. I know of Tristram Shandy but have never thought about reading it. Now I can dismiss any thoughts of so doing!

  9. I thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was odd when I read it as a child, but loved it. It wasn't until I had to study it as part of an English paper that I thought it was truly odd. No, to be honest it wasn't the study of it but the discussions about it that I found really odd. In fact I felt I was the odd one in these discussions. Maybe I was!


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