Saturday, 25 July 2009
A ROUGH GUIDE TO THE ROUGH GUIDES
Think of a subject and, no doubt, there is a Rough Guide book covering it - travel, music, films, comics, football, poker, the internet, pregnancy and birth - in short anything and everything.
The books are well produced and designed to withstand a constant battering as they are dragged time after time from the shelf to check a fact or two. I have a large collection myself with The Rough Guide to Westerns being my favourite - however this is not because the book is any better than any of the others but due to the fact that I love westerns.
The books take a pattern, least the filmic centric ones. Firstly you get an overview and history of the genre, going right back to its dawn and then there is the meat of the book which list 50 classics - each film is covered by a well written and lengthy essay. Following on from that there is usually a large section looking at icons of the genre and this is followed by an equally detailed look at archetypes of the genre. My Rough Guide to Westerns is well thumbed, as is the guide to Film Noir and Crime Fiction.
The music titles I have are set out in a similar fashion and both the Guides to Blues and Elvis are awesome in the detailed information. I also own the Rough Guide to poker and the slim volume has improved my game no end. The sheer detail of the older forms of the game are also very useful for research when writing western fiction. I used this book a lot during the writing of several key scenes in my forthcoming novel, Arkansas Smith
I've not seen any of the guides to the various countries of the world, well other than a cursory browse in my local book shop (the soon to close Borders) but no doubt they are produced with the same eye for detail and expert contributions. And the medical ones will, I'm sure, contain yucky pictures. So I've no interest there - Man, I'm still traumatised from seeing a vividly coloured picture of an operation to remove an ingrowing toe nail during fifth form Biology in 1981!
Whatever you need to know there will be a Rough Guide covering it. The books are reasonably priced and offer a great overview of almost any subject in the world.