Archive - 2017

Books and Publishing (Part 2)
Global Reading Habits
10 Absurd Religious Books
10 Ludicrous Religious Books
8 Morbid Books
My Favourite Books (Part II)
6 Nihilistic Works of Fiction
6 Recent and Contemporary Satirical Novels
6 Historical Satires
14 Curious Literary Terms (Part 2)

Books and Publishing (Part 2)

Last week’s post was about global reading habits. This week sees the second instalment. Here are some interesting facts about global reading habits and the publishing industry in general. Click on the links to discover more.

According to Bowker and book industry data, as of September 2016, there were 134,021,533 unique books in the world. I am sure you will all agree that is a lot of books.

As we are all aware the number of self-published works has risen dramatically in recent years. But the figures are astounding. In 2015 alone, 727,125 ISBNs were applied to self-published works (print & digital books).

With regards to which country publishes the most books, I was under the impression it was America, but I was mistaken. China publishes the most. 440,000 as of 2013.

A few days ago I was emailed this infographic by one of its creators. It gives estimates as to how long it takes to read some of the world’s best-known books. Perhaps the readers they surveyed were Germans (world’s fastest readers). It certainly took a lot longer for me to read Brave New World (63,766 words) than the 3.54 hours estimated. I would be interested to hear from anyone who read Anna Karenina (349,736 words) in 19.43 hours.

This article from The Guardian claims that books are getting longer. It cites a survey purporting that the average book length increased by 25% between 2000 and 2015.

As for what format people are reading, in America at least print continues to be dominant. This Pew Research Center survey claims that 65% of Americans read a print book in 2015 whilst 28% read an e-book.

The most popular genres of all time according to this source (does not include non-fiction) is Children’s Fiction. As for the best-selling children’s books of all time, it is The Harry Potter Series (>450m).

I have written at length on this blog about the plethora of new book genres. Here is a link to some more of the stranger ones out there, including Cli-Fi, a spin-off of eco-fiction that consists of writing addressing climate change. And Cashier Memoir —true-life tales from behind the cash register.

Happy Easter



















Global Reading Habits

Have you ever found yourself wondering about global literacy rates & reading habits. If so you might find this week’s post interesting. Click on the links to discover more.

The most literate nation in the World is: Finland —  according to British newspaper, The Guardian.

But when it comes to reading assessment results Singapore comes out as number one.

The World’s least literate nation is South Sudan (literacy rate: 27%) — Grinding poverty and fleeing Janjaweed militias is evidently not conducive to reading.

Who are the World’s most prolific readers?

India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
Thailand — 9:24
China — 8:00
Philippines — 7:36

The USA comes in at number 22 (5:42) one place above my own nation the UK (5:18). Click here to view the survey.

As for the types of books being purchased globally:

Paperbacks: 45%
Hardbound: 27%
Ebooks: 22%
Audio: 2%

(Above figures were taken from this adweek survey)

According to the same survey 43% of books globally were purchased at E-commerce retailers.

We hear a lot about America’s eating habits, but what about their reading habits:

In 2015 77% of American women read a book, compared with 67% of American males.

The top grossing genre in the United States is Romance ($1.44 billion approx.)

As for the United Kingdom’s Reading Habits:

According to this YouGov survey, the average number of books read for pleasure by adults in the UK is approximately 10 per year. The median is 4.

Proportionately no country has more writers than Iceland — 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book during their lifetime according to this BBC report.

And the country with the most libraries:

China has 51311 libraries — great news for Chinese library goers unless they are looking for books about Tibet or the Dalai Lama.

As for the most bookstores:

In first place is Hong Kong with 21 bookstores per 100,000 people. Second place goes to Taipei with 17.6.

The World’s fastest readers are according to this survey the Germans (as of 2014). Yes, the Germans are even efficient at reading.

Did you know that the top 6 book markets are the USA, China, Germany, Japan, France & the UK. They account for over 60% of global spending on books.


I hope you liked this post. Click here to sign up to my newsletter.





10 Absurd Religious Books

This week sees the second instalment in my Ludicrous Religious Books series. Here are 10 more ludicrous religious-themed books. I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.


Dancing with Jesus

Do you ever feel embarrassed by something, even though you are not responsible for it in any way, shape or form.


A Holistic Approach to Exorcism

Finally, I was getting so tired of specialised approaches to exorcism.


Does GOD Ever Speak through CATS?

Cat: ‘Meow! Meow! Purr, purr…’

Person: ‘That’s God speaking. Sssh, let me listen.’

Cat: ‘Hiss! Meow! meow … Hiss! hiss! MEOW!’

Person: ‘YES! I was right all along — God just said polygamy is virtuous.’


The Beginner’s Guide to Sex in the Afterlife 

Sex in the Afterlife — that is just way a fancy way of saying necrophilia.


Helping The Retarded To Know God 

And the winner of the most offensive book title is…


The Tabloid Bible

Penned by religious humorist Nick Page, The Tabloid Bible parodies the sensationalist nature of tabloid newspapers.


What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?

This creationist title teaches children that dinosaurs were roaming The Earth with the rest of us pre-flood. Note evolutionary-defier Tracker John riding on his pet dinosaur DJ.


God’s Masturbation Solution

Penned by M. L. Brown — Reverend and masturbation connoisseur.


Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

Dr John R. Rice’s fire and brimstone sermon is directed at bossy wives, women preachers and women with bobbed hair.


21 Reasons Why Christians Should Speak in Tongues

Reason 1: If you are a Christian aspiring to be admitted to a mental health facility, then tongues…

Reason 2: Having an additional language on your CV is no bad thing.


There will be a final instalment in a few weeks time.

If you enjoyed this post you might like my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Click here to claim your FREE copy.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

10 Ludicrous Religious Books

Check out these 10 ludicrous religious-themed books. I have added pithy/fictitious comments below each.


Thinking Biblically About The iPod 

If there is a more obscure book title out there, I am yet to come across it.


Help Lord – The Devil Wants Me Fat

Why would The Devil want you fat? He is not a fat fetishist.


What’s Wrong with Christian Rock? 

Have you got all day.


The Joy of Fearing God 

Living in fear is not joyful.


The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Winner of the most unfortunate title in the religious category.


Jesus Was An Episcopalian

You mean I have spent countless hours, on my knees, praying to an Episcopalian … I think I am going to be ill.


Jogging with Jesus 

That is not Jesus on the front cover. He wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that tracksuit.


Resurrection Aerobics The Christian Based Sex Aerobics

Proud winner of the most confounding book title award.


The Lord’s Corn Patch

If that is The Lord’s corn patch, he is not going to be happy to find that overweight, shabbily-attired, crazy woman.


The Bible is a scientific book 

No it is not.


There will be further instalments.


If you liked this post you might enjoy my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Click here to claim your FREE copy.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction


8 Morbid Books

I have a healthy interest in the morbid/macabre. Evidence of this is my second novel, Necropolis. It is a black comedy about a sociopath who works for the burials and cemeteries department in his local council.

This week’s post is dedicated to 8 morbid books. I have added pithy comments/fictitious commentary below each.


Necromance: Intimate Portrayals of Death

Proud winner of worst book cover in the morbid category.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

The cover is a bit like the health warning images on cigarette packets. It leaves no illusion as to the extreme morbidity of the book’s contents.


Fancy Coffins to Make Yourself

‘What’s that leaning against your living room wall?’

‘It’s a fancy DIY coffin.’

‘Who is it for?’


‘But you’re not dead.’

‘That’s the thing with DIY coffins, you can’t assemble them post-mortem.’


Working Stiff

Two Years, 262 Bodies — that is a lot of bodies for one medical examiner. But the upside is it is probably considerably less than the living people they would have had to deal with in the same time period in a normal job.


Reusing Old Graves

Dig ’em up, turf ’em out, insert new occupant…


Mortician Diaries

Tuesday: Three Weetabix and a cup of tea for breakfast. It took like so long to get to work this morning, the traffic was so slow, I thought I would never get there. Boss was waiting. Normally she like taps her watch and makes a facetious comment about my timekeeping, but today she just smiled, and I was like what is going on here? Then she led me through to the morgue. I smelt it before I saw it — it was found in a bath, been in there for days, bloated with those blue veins. It so grossed me out!


Do-It-Yourself Funerals And Cremations For Newbies

Burying yourself whilst reading your own eulogy, now that’s impressive. But before you get too excited, this is a fictitious title.


Do it Yourself Caskets and Coffins

Yet another DIY coffin title. Erotica better watch out, there’s a new genre in town.


I you enjoyed this post you might like my satirical black comedy, Necropolis.

Click here to claim your FREE copy.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction


My Favourite Books (Part II)

Last April I devoted a blog post to some of my favourite books. This week sees the second instalment. Here are six more of my favourite books. Click on the links to read my reviews.


The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

Published in 1939, The Day of the Locust is a short, plotless and poignant novel with a surreal aspect, that is prescient in its prediction of the Hollywood-obsessed society of today.

My Review: Talented artist Tod Hackett has relocated to Los Angeles where he is working as a movie set designer. Tod develops an infatuation for Faye – a beautiful, blonde and brazen aspiring actress, and sometime call girl. When her father, a vaudevillian reduced to selling…(more)

Genre: Not sure


Junky by William S. Burroughs 


Junky is a semi-autobiographical novella, in which the author successfully utilises a detached journalistic approach to capture the obsessive nature of addiction.

My Review: Set in 1950s America and Mexico, Junky is a confessional novella about drug addiction. Its protagonist Bill Lee chronicles his drug-centred existence, which entails searching for his daily fix, scoring, and intravenous drug consumption…(more)

Genre: Transgressive


The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

Though The Wayward Bus is not one of Steinbeck’s best known novels, it is a thoroughly compelling and enjoyable read. Steinbeck displays his deep understanding of human nature at every turn.

My Review: An unlikely group of characters are travelling through rural South California by bus.  In his unique style Steinbeck proceeds to explore each personality in intricate detail; their inhibitions, motivations, intimate thoughts and hopes for the future…(more)

Genre: Not sure


Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk


Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal work is about a nameless narrator, who starts a fight club with a charismatic anarchist by the name of Tyler Durden. Their fight club concept soon spreads across the nation.

My Review: The protagonist, who remains nameless, is an insomniac leading a bland corporate existence, investigating accidents for a car company, whose only concern is profit. Unable to find meaning in a faceless consumerist society, he instead seeks solace in…(more)

Genre: Transgressive


Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

The captivating prose and vivid descriptions allows the reader an appreciation of the nature of urban poverty during the early twentieth century.

My Review: George Orwell’s first published novel, Down and Out in Paris and London, is an account of the author’s time spent living in abject poverty, first in Paris and later in London. Having spent his savings and with tutoring work having come to an end, Orwell is…(more)

Genre: Memoir


Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski 

Ham On Rye

Ham On Rye is a coming-of-age story, in which the protagonist views himself as an intruder, refusing to adhere to society’s expectations. It is written in the author’s trademark economy of prose style.

My Review: Ham On Rye is a semi-autobiographical account of Bukowski’s formative years in his home city of Los Angeles. The story follows the early life of the author’s alter ego, Henry Chinaski, starting with his earliest memories, then through his school years…(more)

Genre: Semi-Autobiographical/Transgressive


Click here to read part one.


Click here to join my mailing list and receive my book-related newsletter.


6 Nihilistic Works of Fiction

Nihilism Definition: A philosophical doctrine that suggests the lack of belief in one or more reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value…(more)

In literature the term ‘nihilism’ was first popularised by 19th Century Russian author Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons

This week’s post is dedicated to six works of fiction that could be described as nihilistic. They are presented in the order in which they were published. Click on the links to read my reviews.


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

Heart of Darkness is a disturbing, multi-layered story about what can occur when man exists outside of civilisation’s constraints. Readers are challenged to question the existence of being.

My Review: Heart of Darkness is a novella about a steamship sailing up a river through the jungles of The Congo, in search of Mr Kurtz, a mysterious ivory trader, who has reportedly turned native…(more)


The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

The Metamorphosis is a bleak, existential nihilistic tale that comments on the human condition and the futility of life. This reader appreciated its dark humour.

My Review: Protagonist Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. This awkward situation is exacerbated when Gregor’s boss turns up at his house…(more)


Novel with Cocaine by M. Ageyev (1934)

Novel with Cocaine is a  nihilistic novel about adolescence and addiction that has been described as Dostoyevskian, due to the thorough psychological exploration of its main character.

My Review: Set in the years immediately before and after the Russian Revolution, Novel with Cocaine follows the life of Vadim, a Moscow adolescent and student. Vadim is prone to self-loathing…(more)


 The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)

Viewed by many as being an existential nihilist classic, The Plague is a philosophical work that explores absurdism; the human tendency to try and find meaning in life, but failing to find any.

My Review: In the Algerian coastal town of Oran, an explosion in the rat population has not gone unnoticed. The infestation soon comes to an abrupt halt with the mysterious demise of the rats…(more)


Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis (1985)

Easton Ellis’s debut novel is a nihilistic account of life in 1980s L.A. Utilising social commentary and plotless realism, Less Than Zero is a graphic and disturbing novel that is unrelenting in its bleakness.

My Review: Set in 1980s Los Angeles, the story follows eighteen-year-old Clay, returned home for Christmas from college in New Hampshire. Clay immediately falls back into the L.A. social scene, spending his time…(more)


Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)

This nihilistic novel is about our innate craving for attention and the fundamental nature of addiction. Its protagonist has a penchant for purposely choking on food at expensive restaurants.

My Review: The protagonist, Victor Mancini, is a sex addict employed at an eighteenth-century historical re-enactment park.  Victor attends various sexual addiction support groups, where he meets many…(more)

6 Recent and Contemporary Satirical Novels

Last week’s post was devoted to historical satires. This week we turn our attention to more recent and contemporary satires.  Click on the links to read my reviews. If you haven’t done so already you might be interested in signing up to my newsletter (more information at bottom of this post).


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)


Based on Heller’s own experiences as a bombardier in WWII, this best-selling, satirical, anti-war novel, took its American author eight years to write.

My Review: Set on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa during WWII, Catch-22 is about the exploits of the fictitious 256th Squadron. We follow protagonist Yossarian and his comrades’ farcical attempts…(more)

Subject Satirised: War


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse-Five’s anti-war rhetoric has resulted in it being banned from numerous US schools and libraries. This satirical story is about a survivor of the notorious firebombing of Dresden.

My Review: Narrated in a non-linear order, the story follows protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s journey through life. A married optometrist with two children, Billy is a veteran of World War II, and a survivor of the notorious…(more)

Subject Satirised: War


High-Rise by J. G. Ballard (1975)


High-Rise is a tale about how the social order can fragment. Tense, bleak and satirical, it explores the connection between technology and the human condition.

My Review: Set in an apartment tower block in London, High-Rise is a dystopian tale about the intense animosity that develops between the building’s various floors. The story centres around three characters…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Contemporary society & high-rise housing


American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

American Psycho

American Psycho is a satire of the yuppies culture of the 1980s that caused outrage when it was published due to its explicit violent and sexual content. It went on to become a cult classic.

My Review: American Psycho is a highly controversial novel that brought its young author Bret Easton Ellis instant fame. The book is written from the perspective of a young Wall Street financier, Patrick Bateman…(more)

Subject Satirised: 1980s yuppies culture


Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (1999)

The book’s premise, the superficial vanity of the beauty industry, is used both to explore the unattractive side of human nature and, in customary Palahniuk fashion, to satirise society.

My Review: Shannon McFarland is a catwalk model, who is the centre of attention wherever she goes. That is until she ‘accidentally’ blasts her jaw shot off with a gun whilst driving down the highway. Shannon is left…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Human nature & the beauty industry 


Rant by Chuck Palahniuk (2007)


Rant challenges our own traditions by demonstrating how we contort our recollection of events in accordance with our desires, motives and beliefs. There are obvious parallels with  the gospels.

My Review: Rant is the oral history of Buster ‘Rant’ Casey, recounted by an array of people including his relations, friends, enemies and lovers. Rant’s childhood companions from the small rural town where…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Human nature, society & oral history 


Join my mailing list to claim your FREE copy of the satirical black comedy, Necropolis. Click here to do so.

I will be sending out an occasional book-related newsletter.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

6 Historical Satires

This week’s post is dedicated to six of history’s most famous literary satires. There will be a second instalment featuring more recent and contemporary satires next week. Click on the links to read my reviews.


Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)


Gulliver’s Travels is a humorous and vulgar satirical work that mocks politics, non-conformist churches, science, the social order and the accepted role of the family.

My Review: Intrepid English adventurer Lemuel Gulliver’s fictional memoirs are divided into four parts. In the first our shipwrecked protagonist is washed ashore in the land of Lilliput, a place populated by people so…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Pretty much everything


Candide by Voltaire (1759)


Candide is an eighteenth-century satirical classic that evaluates optimism; the prevailing philosophical ideology of The Enlightenment. Voltaire sought to dispel the belief that all is for the best when it is not.

My Review: Brought up in the household of a German baron, cheerful protagonist Candide has been instilled with the philosophy of Leibniz, notably – That all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds…(more)

Subjects Satirised: The Church & The Enlightenment


Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842)

Dead Souls is an uncompleted, satirical novel that parodies Imperial Russia and provincial Russian life. Targets for ridicule include the gentry and rural officials.

My Review: Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is travelling around provincial Russia, visiting landowners. His purpose is to purchase papers relating to their serfs who have died since the last census. By doing so Chichikov relieves…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Provincial Russian life & more besides


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a satire of American southern antebellum society that parodies religion, morality, literature and above all the practice of slavery.

My Review: 13-year-old Huckleberry Finn is living in Missouri with a widow who plans to ‘sivilize’ him. That is until his alcoholic father relocates him to an isolated cabin in the woods. Huck fakes his own death and escapes…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Slavery & numerous others


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Brave New World

This dystopian work utilises erudite social commentary and subtle satire to explore mankind’s inherent nature. Huxley’s portentous vision has proven to be prescient.

My Review: Brave New World is set in a society where everything is controlled. The parentless, manufactured, free-loving population are dependent on a state-endorsed hallucinogenic, happiness drug called Soma…(more)

Subjects Satirised: Society, technology & totalitarianism


Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Light-hearted and wryly humorous, this satirical work lampoons the romanticised, often doom-laden ‘loam and lovechild’ novels of the 19th and early 20th century.

My Review: Although harbouring concerns about countryside living, recently orphaned, 19-year-old Flora Poste decides to go and live with relatives in rural Sussex. Her destination, the ramshackle and backward Cold…(more)

Subject Satirised: Loam and lovechild novels


I hope you enjoyed this post.

Sign up to my newsletter to claim your FREE copy of my satirical novel, the transgressive black comedy, Necropolis. Click here to do so.

A Black Comedy of True Distinction

14 Curious Literary Terms (Part 2)

A while back I devoted a blog post to the subject of curious literary terms. This is the second and final instalment. The following literary terms are presented in alphabetical order.

Beast Fable — A narrative with speaking animals for characters. These didactic texts aim to teach us lessons about morality. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is one beast fable we are all familiar with.

Bowdlerise — A form of censorship that entails removing perceived indecent, immoral and/or pornographic words/passages from a narrative.

Eye Dialect — The use of unconventional spellings to signify conventional pronunciation. For example, ‘She shud of left by now’ in place of ‘She should have left by now.’

Oneiromancy — The belief that the future can be predicted by analysing dreams.

Onomatopoeia — Words that mimic sounds, e.g. a buzzing bee, or a crackling fire.

Ornamentalism —  An elaborate prose style in which the manner of narration is more important than its content. Vladimir Nabokov was an ardent devotee.

Pandect — A book purporting to contain all conceivable information on a given subject.

Portmanteau — A portmanteau combines two or more words to form a new word that expresses a single idea that is different from its component parts. Take brunch, a combination of two words, breakfast and lunch.

ProsopopoeiaA type of personification in which inanimate objects have the ability to speak.

Synecdoche — A device in which a part of a given thing represents the whole, or vice versa. If only I had some wheels (wheels are merely part of a car, but are representative of the whole).

Wanderjahr  A time in a character’s life when they diverge from their usual routine i.e. travelling, gap year etc.

Verbiage — Superfluous words in a sentence that detract from its impact.

Zeitgeist — The trends and fashions that represent the essence of a period in time.

Zoomorphic — Relating to a deity that is believed to take the form of an animal.


Copyright © 2015. Guyportman's Blog

%d bloggers like this: