books review

REVIEW: Horseradish - Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

April 16, 2012Saskia C.

This weekend my boyfriend and I took a trip to the Book Festival, which is a fair with thousands of very cheap books. Obviously we both went home with a bag full of books and since I woke up with an extremely painful throat and a fever this morning, I tried to make the best of my laryngitis and started reading. Today I finished 'New Moan: The First Book in the Twishite Saga: A Parody' as well as 'Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid'. I enjoyed both books a lot, though I found the second to be quite a bit more special.

Personally I'm not a big fan of pseudo-philosophical books merely consisting of quotes; all too often the content is more pretentious and cliché than inspirational. However, 'Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid' by Lemony Snicket is different.
Lemony Snicket is Daniel Handler's pen name, who is especially known for the dark and witty children's books 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. These tell the story of the Baudelaire orphans and the first book of the series was adapted to the screen in 2004, with Jim Carrey playing the role of the evil Count Olaf.

However, 'Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid' could be considered slightly more mature. It is a series of inspirational, funny and witty quotes about both the great and the more trivial aspects of life. The quotes are divided into thirteen categories (Home, family, love, literature, mysteries of life, etc.). Not every single 'truth' is as inspirational as another, there are quite a few that are slightly dull, obvious or actually bitter, but more than once I found myself absolutely delighted with one of Lemony Snicket's ideas. I felt some strong Oscar Wilde echoes here and there.

To give you an idea of the contents, here are a couple of my favourites:
  • "It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches."
  • "It is one of life's bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting."
  • "There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well worth staying up all night to finish."
  • "A library is like an island in the middle of  a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."
  • "If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf."
  • "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
  • "If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, "Well, this isn't too bad. I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed," but most of us would say something along the lines of "Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!"
  • "The way sadness works is one of the strangest riddles of the world."
  • "One of the remarkable things about love is that, despite very irritating people writing poems and songs about how pleasant it is, it really is quite pleasant."
  • "Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like."
  • "Just about everything in this world is easier said than done, with the exception of  "systematically assisting Sysiphus's stealthy, cyst-susceptible sister," which is easier done than said."
  • "If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats."

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  1. I really enjoyed reading those quotes! :) They remind me of Oscar Wilde a lot too. I really should read something by Lemony Snicket, judging from your post. A couple of years ago I saw the movie you mentioned, but I've never read anything by that author. Inspiring!

  2. That sounds like a fantastic book! I love book sales, books are so expensive usually it makes me sad :(

  3. Lovely quotes! I must buy this book as well :)



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