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Book Expressions

by Alan Townend

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Book expressions or "Have you seen this book?"

There's a well-known saying that you can't judge a book by its covers and when you apply this to people it's another way of saying that you shouldn't form an opinion of someone purely on appearances. Expressions related to books do figure in the language. Let's have a look at some of them.

You can be in someone's good books or bad books. In the first one people think highly of view and in the second they have a low opinion of you. If you bring someone to book, you are telling them off or criticising them — an expression that comes from the idea that the person in trouble has done something wrong and a policeman has written that down in his notebook. I expect you've noticed that I started the last sentence referring to "someone" and then later used the pronoun "them". I just wanted to explain that this is all right because the alternative is to say "him" and that upsets the feminists or you say "him or her" and that upsets me. But wait a minute I'm telling you all the answers and you should really be trying to work out the "book" expressions yourself.

So let me tell you a quick story.

Have you seen this Book?

Are you a book collector? I'm afraid I am and any spare empty walls in my house are soon covered with shelves ready to hold my latest buys. When I see a second hand bookshop, I have to go in and always come out fully laden.

Take last week. I was in a small village in the east of England and came across what was really an antiques shop. Now antiques are a closed book to me. I know what I like but I can't tell the genuine form the reproduction, but books, well that's a different matter. The man running the shop was quite clear in his mind that I knew little about antiques and that my reasons for coming into his shop were an open book as I made straight for the corner with shelf upon shelf of books. And there shouting at me was a book with a bright blue cover that I really belived I needed. I checked the price and thought I'd casually ask if he would accept less. But he was someone who always did things by the book. He would not give way. He was the sort of person whose accounts would always be in perfect order. Never in his wildest dreams would he ever cook the books. He was also convinced that I was never any good at haggling over the price. He could clearly read me like a book.

Nevertheless the price seemed fair and it suited my book to pay the price he wanted. On the way home I pictured myself sitting down with a drink and opening the book to start reading. As I drove, I noticed that there was a police car hiding behind some bushes just round the corner. I made sure I was driving at the right speed because I had no wish to have the book thrown at me by some worthy judge. At long last I reached home and settled down in my favourite armchair. I thought I'd take a leaf out that chap's book I'd seen in the TV advertisement, who very coolly sits down, takes a sip of his drink and then opens his book with a pleasurable sigh. In my book he looks a bit stupid but then so was I because my eye alighted on a bright blue cover in a bookshelf to my left.

I'd already got a copy of the wretched book.

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