The Unknown Unknown : Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted, Paperback

The Unknown Unknown : Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted Paperback

3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Mark Forsyth - author of the Sunday Times Number One bestseller The Etymologicon - reveals in this essay, specially commissioned for Independent Booksellers Week, the most valuable thing about a really good bookshop.

Along the way he considers the wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld, naughty French photographs, why Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy would never have met online, and why only a bookshop can give you that precious thing - what you never knew you were looking for.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Society & culture: general
  • ISBN: 9781848317840


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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This tiny pamphlet is this year's Independent Booksellers Week essay. I missed last year's by Ann Patchett, and had to go looking for this one on AbeBooks because there was nowhere else for me to get it locally, but it's so good! It's all about the idea that bookshops can lead you to books you never even knew you wanted to read, and that such serendipitous discoveries are actually quite important - not to mention FUN. I've never read Mark Forsyth before, but his style is clever and amusing, with plenty of pop culture references and some interesting thoughts on book buying culture. It's under 25 pages and only takes a few minutes to read - so if you see one still sitting around on a bookshop counter, or maybe spy one second-hand, do pick it up - it's such a lovely little thing for a reader to be able to return to every so often!

Review by

Having had the misfortune to read Mark Forsyth's 'Etymologicon' I formed the opinion that he was rather smug, and steeped in unjustified self-regard, all too eager to demonstrate his alleged wit. He may, of course, actually be a really nice bloke.Having read this latest work, however, I see no reason to change my initial opinion. He manages to take two or three thousand words to say that we don't know what we don't know, and that perhaps we should not judge a book by its cover. I would aver that this book would emerge rather more favourably if judgement were restricted to its cover. All rather trite and self satisfied.

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