Book Review: Wit’s End (James Geary)

Book Review: Wit’s End (James Geary)

Wit’s End by James Geary

The Start of Book Reviews

While this isn’t the first book review on The Beer Thrillers – that honor goes to “For the Love of Beer” by Dr. Alison Feeney – this is the first non – beer related book review on The Beer Thrillers. But as I said in my last post “The Beer Thrillers Moving Forward” I’ve been wanting to do this and branching out the blog a bit more in different directions. Is the blog still going to be primarily about beer and breweries? Most certainly. This is actually something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time, and am finally now just pushing ahead and doing it. If people don’t like it, too bad, they can ignore the posts and stay at our blog for the beer reviews, brewery reviews, etc. I read roughly 100 – 110 books a year, and I’ve been wanting to write and combine my various interests on the blog (beer, books, hiking, gardening, sports, video games, etc.) and this seems one of many natural ways to do it.

I’ve already done this similarly with many of my travelogue articles. Most of them are hiking adventures or visits and tours with Ming or other people that include stops at breweries along the way. The travelogues seem to be some of the more popular posts (and outside of the March Madness tournament we just did, my travelogue about the 1000 Steps Trail and Levity Brewing is a top ten visited article here on The Beer Thrillers).

So why am I starting off with “Wit’s End” by James Geary? Well, frankly its because its the latest book I’ve read and finished. So, I figured I’d start with the most recent book read, and work back on some of the others, as well as the ones I am still reading and finishing. So there will certainly be no lack of book reviews, that’s for sure.

Wit’s End

Let’s tackle this book and give it a proper review. Not sure if I’m going to follow a specific way of reviewing every book similar to how I do my beer reviews (Example: Chocolate Covered Pretzel by Braxton Brewing Company) or if each book review will be something different onto itself.

Maybe its apropos that I start my first non book review here on the blog (well, first non – beer related book review) with one titled “Wit’s End”. This might just be the end to the wit here on The Beer Thrillers; or will it? Who knows, maybe this will grow the blog even further, who knows again. Shrug.

Wit’s End by James Geary is a series of essays on the various forms of wits and witticisms and how it’s used. Each is written in different styles, from poems, to a screen play, to a faux academic (scientific) journal article, etc. Different essays to discuss the different ways wit is used, created, performed, and displayed.

There is a decent bit here, and the book both reads fast and slow at times. Which might also be a bit of just my reading style, where I’ll get into the book, and read a fair bit, then lose myself and be bored of it, and start picking up the numerous other books I’m reading (usually four or five books at a time), and jump about. Damn you ADHD.

The writing style is obviously all over the place as each essay is done in different styles. And for the most part I think this works; but I also think Geary is a bit lackluster in some aspects to it. Not fully delving into the styles, or relying too much on the styles to get his point across rather than the work and words themselves. I enjoyed some of the essays, whilst others fell completely flat or were uninteresting, and this wasn’t primarily due to just the styling or the writing, but the actual work behind it. I haven’t read anything from James Geary before, but his writing prose seems both deft and also incomplete at times. There is quality writing, but there is also a lack of putting two and two together and making connections.

I love reading about creativity and intelligence, because I am often curious how it spawns, why I have the thoughts or ideas in my head and where things pop in at. As someone who is often told “Where the hell do you get your ideas from” or “why do you think the way you do”, I love trying to read about how this all works out; and sadly, this doesn’t do a real good job of explaining any of that.

I’m also not a big ‘punster’ and there is quite a fair amount of that in this, with a few essays / chapters fully devoted to it. Despite being a dad, I’m far from prone to dad jokes – which the pun is a staple of – and for that, actually puns usually bore me. I’m not angered by them, just bored of them. I don’t believe of them as the “lowest form of wit” but I also just tire of them easily.

I wish there was more substance to this, and more on ‘how wit is derived’ rather than describing various forms of wit. Because I think we can all point to something witty when we hear / see / read it; and so I rather see the inner workings, the behind the scenes, rather than the obvious and what I can clearly see in front of me.

I think this is an entertaining read, but I think it just lacks a lot of substance and could use a lot more to it. Frankly wish the general idea behind it was a bit more expansive than what we got, or maybe the scope was a bit different than what the book alluded to it being.

Similar to my beer reviews, where I gave my Untappd score, followed the global average Untappd rating, I will do the similar here but with GoodReads. GoodReads and LibraryThing are my primary forms of Book Cataloguing and recording using apps; they are basically the Untappd for the book world. I started with LibraryThing many years ago (honestly can’t even remember, but I want to say 2013 or maybe 2012. Sadly, GoodReads has surpassed it and I use that much more now (despite my not caring – and actually loathing – of Amazon). GoodReads only lets you review in full stars, where LibraryThing let you review down to the 1/4th star. So I will most likely be giving my review scores to the 1/4th star (similar to Untappd letting you review to the 1/4th bottle cap), but showing my rounded score via GoodReads, and then showing the global average GoodReads score.

My GoodReads score: **3/4 (rounded – ***)
Global GoodReads Score: 3.32 (as of 4.5.20).

Thank you everyone for reading my first non – beer related article on the blog and site. Curious how reaction will be to me using my beer blog to post non – beer related things and more personal things. Who knows, maybe the blog gets expanded into all kinds of new categories in the future, and it’ll look just like one gigantic spider with tons of spider webs linking to millions of things. Or maybe in the future I’ll branch out and just have a different site for these things and move them over to there.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the branching out. What you think of me doing book reviews, etc. Don’t worry though, there will still be beer related content here on the blog, especially from the other writers, as I take a bit of a hiatus from the beer side of things personally for a bit. Thank you for joining us here at The Beer Thrillers. Be sure to stay tuned for many of the various things in the future that I have planned.


-B. Kline

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