Sod That!: 103 Things Not To Do Before You Die by Sam Jordison

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Sod That!: 103 Things Not To Do Before You Die by Sam Jordison

Category: Trivia
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A book that very much does what it says on the tin, and as such is stuck with the inability to break free from the can.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-1409100553

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Without sounding like a braggart, I have done some pleasant things in life. I've caught the first bus up to Machu Picchu, and shared the sunrise with only the llamas. I've eaten strange things while on a full fortnight tour of Iceland. But closer to home, were I to have a list, there would be many things left on it – I've been nowhere near Bath, or York; I've never seen the film ET, which for a man of my age is something of a claim to fame.

However I don't have such a list. There are things I would like to do, but I'm not one of those people who listens to some inner voice telling them to down tools and go off and change their life, however temporary. And I'm certainly not one to read some asinine Sunday supplement, watch some naff TV programme, or read some inane gift book telling me what someone else thinks I should be about.

Neither is Sam Jordison, as he proves in these pages. Instead, though, he has paid attention to these lists of what he and the rest of us are supposed to do, and found them risible. As a result, he has launched this book and his webpage as a counter-measure, pointing out how daft the premise is, and how mind-bogglingly foolish, dangerous or just absurd following some of them can be.

Some of his targets are a little on the easy side, I think he'll agree – there is no real need for any of us to wish to have a dunk in the Ganges, and paying a near-illicit company to have someone's name given to a star is equally dopey. Throughout we get Sam's personal and comic approach to belittling all his subjects – and of course the sense that we should be belittled should we disagree with the original list creator.

I, however, have to disagree with Sam (especially when he calls me a git). I wouldn't mind the chance to sky-dive, or walk on coals, and I look forward to trotting up an active volcano (although I'd probably be chased as I did it by health and safety idiots). Sam has seen the reality behind the lists informing us our life is incomplete before this, though, and as such his volume is a very nice way to pour scorn on such thinking.

The book is very approachable. Sam's sense of humour is one I can get along with perfectly well, and here we get little trivia factoids to increase the value for money. I never knew that our passing on chicken pox was a major factor in us not wishing to swim with dolphins. He could have added the get-out when you are forced by a loved one to take a gondola in Venice – apparently you can just pay a euro for a thirty-second ferry across the Grand Canal, and not have the whole embarrassing farrago.

However the book is limited by the very form it mirrors. We're all intelligent people here and so we know how silly the list idea is, and how limited such a volume is as a result. There definitely still is a book in scoffing at the concept, and I think Jordison has done as well as anyone could have in creating his anti-list and making it as entertaining as he could, but there are flaws to the approach. He seems at times like a curmudgeon, and the itemised approach stops a lovely rant from developing.

To the book's credit though remains the personable writing and the pleasure to be had in nodding along with our author as he proves to be a darn sight more right, reasonable and witty than whoever generated the suggestions he mocks. They're all taken from real life, and have eating cheese fondue as a guest star as no-one but no-one ever recommended that.

I would happily recommend this book as far as it goes, and would willingly give it to my partner as a diversion while she gears herself up to give War and Peace a further try, but it does only remain an entertaining diversion. Not only because I've done 69 and 100 quite happily, I cannot, even if I wanted to, put this on a list of 50 Books You Must Read Before You Explode, or whatever.

We at the Bookbag are very grateful for the author for giving us a review copy.

We thoroughly enjoyed another book by Sam - Annus Horribilis, but if you're looking for some trivia to give as a gift then we can recommend History Without the Boring Bits by Ian Crofton.

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Buy Sod That!: 103 Things Not To Do Before You Die by Sam Jordison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sod That!: 103 Things Not To Do Before You Die by Sam Jordison at


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