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Page turners: The Week-End Book

"The Week-End Book" - could it be more aptly titled for our purposes? - was first published in England in 1924. It's a disarming, somewhat anachronistic, and utterly quirky cross between the Farmers' Almanac and a countryside Baedeker's - that British guide without which Lucy was so lost in "A Room With a View."

It's impossible to do justice to so charming a compendium of miscellany in such short space. Here's the briefest sample: We learn a cluster of starlings should be referred to as a "murmuration." There are birdsongs set in a treble clef. The section "Travels with a Donkey" inexplicably enumerates the speed at which an emu runs: 40 m.p.h. And under the guise of driving etiquette, we're told one must always stop for pedestrians and that "any chump can stop for a pretty girl, but try being kind to a few scarecrows." There are also ruminations on architecture, food, the law - and epigrams.

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Little in this recently reissued volume is truly necessary (particularly for someone this side of the Atlantic). But isn't that the point? Couldn't the same be said of an aimless, leisurely weekend? Besides, it's worth owning if only for the way it will look on a bookshelf (or in a tote bag): the cover with its vintage feel, endpapers that include a chessboard, and whimsical line drawings throughout. Grade: A


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