Some decades ago, when I was teaching, I rode the twenty-miles-or-so to college with Ted, a fellow-teacher and dear friend and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever known. Ted was a scientist, but his real passion was words. He especially loved teaching science fiction and his students especially loved his teaching.
On the long drive to and from school, we often played word games, a lot of them made up on the spot. One day, as we once again passed the old bucket factory, Ted said it had closed. I asked what happened. Bottom fell out.
We mined that particular vein for a while (Consolidated Brassiere — Went bust; Allied Tape — Couldn’t make it stick) and eventually moved on to poster blurbs for movies, some real (The Great Escape — “Avant-Garde!”), some not (High Steel — “Riveting!”).
As far as I can remember, we didn’t get into books, but I can imagine the one-word evaluations we might have come up with. So, in memory of Ted and in honor of words and their infinite delights (all the books, by the way, are real) …
Confessions of a Funeral Director: Cryptic
Lives of the Great Composers: Noteworthy
In the Sewers of Lvov: Distinctive
A Walk in the Woods: Pedestrian
The Zipper Club — A Memoir: Fascinating
The Hand: Gripping
Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas: Uplifting
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Boisterous
On The Road: Moving
And Then You Die of Dysentery: Gut-Wrenching
Paradise Lost: Careless
Understanding Asthma: Breathtaking
Keep Calm and Crossword On: Puzzling
To the Lighthouse: Salty
… and so on.
There are also vast possibilities beyond the limitations of just one word …
Of Mice and Men: … gnawed at me ceaselessly
The Wind in the Willows: … blew me away
The Tin Drum: … snared me at once
The Jungle: … difficult to get through
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: … hard to swallow
… in case you assumed that great books inspire only lofty ideas.