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Mail Obsession: A journey around Britain by postcode

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Each of the United Kingdom's 124 postcode areas has a story to tell, an unexpected nugget to dust off and treasure. Mark Mason has embarked on a tour of the country, immersing himself in Britain's history on a roundabout journey from AB to ZE. On the lookout for interesting place names and unusual monuments, along the way he discovers what the Queen keeps in her handbag, w ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 22nd 2015 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published December 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  248 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Aug 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Every time you post a letter or card it is routed to the final address by a little seven digit postcode. Matt Mason has decided that he will visit each and every one of these postcode areas and endeavour to extract an anecdote or fact about that place as he travels from AB to ZE. But it will also be a journey back in time as he looks at the history of the postal service in the UK and discovers more of the strange world of the philatelist and pays a visit to the underground mail train.

On his jou
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
enjoyed the author's travels around the 124 postcode areas of the UK with some humour and quirky facts ...more
Alex Sarll
"I've been wondering if there's a difference between 'the Post Office', 'the GPO' and 'the Royal Mail' - Vicky explains that they've always been used pretty much interchangeably." Well, maybe to some extent they have, but it took me a minute on Google to confirm that they're distinct legal entities, one disbanded. I could forgive the bathetic personal observations on the trip through Britain's postcode areas that isn't even completed, if the facts were solid. But what's the point of a light-hear ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The best way to describe this book is that it is odd.

Mark Mason looked at Britain's 124 postcodes and decided to visit as many as possible and relay interesting facts about them.

For me the most interesting fact was learning how the postcodes work. This year in London I stayed in a hotel next door to the one I'd stayed in last year. They had different postcodes. I discovered that the first half of the code is the area, the second the property. So quite literally every building in Britain has a di
Lee Penney
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book where the author travels around the postcodes of the UK and presents a fact about each of them.

That’s probably simplifying it slightly as it’s crammed with facts in between each. You can tell Mason struggled to keep it to one per postcode and so exposes a bunch like he has fact Tourette’s and couldn’t keep them in.

I think the quote on the back cover from Reader’s Digest sums my reading of this book up really well:

Almost every page contains at least one thing that you’ll be itching to star
Jun 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I will be honest this isn't a review of the full book because I made it to page 26 before I'd had enough.

So I had a few issues with this book before I took it back to the library for another poor soul to read. On the very first page the author feels the need to point out at YES IT WAS MEN not women that laid the first rail tracks. Seems pointless unless you are trying to annoy women but okay. Moving on. There was a full page with someone else poems in it, why?

I got passed those though, I kept
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A highly entertaining book crammed with all kinds of fascinating trivia about Britain. I found it a little confusing at first, where the facts seemed to be quite random, but then the author set off on his various fact-finding expeditions and I was hooked. My only complaint is that I would have loved some photos. I found myself googling all sorts of things just to see what they look like: the Uxbridge gasholder, or the Scottish Royal Mail logo, for example.
I'm not sure whether this would appeal
Rob Sedgwick
Aug 03, 2021 rated it liked it
This book didn't really work entirely for me. It's amusing in places and contains interesting facts and anecdotes (which I will all soon forget, I expect). However, it might as well just be a list of facts. Mark's haphazard journey around the country doesn't really add that much. (It adds something for sure, but it doesn't make the book, and the book could exist without it). Too much of it is seen outside a car window, I did enjoy some of the bits when he actually had his two feet on the ground ...more
Sarahjoy Maddeaux
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was indeed full of fascinating facts about Britain. All sorts of things I wanted to turn to someone and share. And it's readable, but... it's not as good as, say, Bill Bryson or Dixe Wills. Somehow the writing seems more laboured. It's interesting but not delightful. Also he kind of cheats by smuggling in more than one truth about most post code areas, trying to get away with it by adding, 'I could make this fact *the* fact for this area, but instead...' Of course that means more fasci ...more
Adarsh Mishra
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
its an odd trivia book about the UK Post codes. My key problem with the book- the writing style aside, even the trivia nuggets aren't interesting at parity! Yes there are a number of "Really! I couldn't have known that!" moments, but then as pointed by a few other readers- there are a bunch of "Really! that surely isn't true" bits as well. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful book that is a treasure trove of UK trivia...categorized by postal codes. Also useful facts such as why the mail delivery in the UK is identified as "the post". Written with humor...a good read. ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Pointless trivia and a bit of travel makes another entertaining Mark Mason book. If you liked his other books you’ll like this one. If you haven’t tried one they’re lighthearted fun. Where else will you find out that the man who invented bank holidays taught his dog, who liked tea, to read?
Judy Rogers
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy and interesting read

An enjoyable trip around the UK written in a friendly style, entertaining and informative. Learned a lot of interesting facts along the way.
Jane Walker
Moderately entertaining little book about a project to visit and find a little-known fact about each of the 124 postal districts in the country.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun facts aplenty from start to finish. My reservations are the slight undertones that make it evidently written by a middle class, middle aged white man.
Max Baldwin
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Disappointed by this as the authors other two books I have read were both really good. The trivia in this one is just a bit boring and the authors disposition throughout the book isn’t to my liking
Denise hodge
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great zigzag journey across the UK. .

Full of great "well I never moments" . Written with great humour and you picture the journeys on your imaginary map
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Quite interesting
May 26, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars
Jonny Brick
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
A fun way to tour Britain, with nuggets and charm aplenty. A mix of social history and travelogue, and a worthy part of Mark's excellent canon of books. ...more
Peter Jordan
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk
Well it was definitely more trivia than geeky; so disappointed. Some of the facts were not really correct - eg Royal Mail = Post Office.
Sonia Bellhouse
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mail Obsession by Mark Mason
A great book for trivia lovers and those interested in finding out quirky facts about Britain. Not a book to read at a sitting, this is a book to amuse and delight, but one that is probably best read in small doses. There is a temptation to read out many of the amazing facts and bits of information to your long-suffering family.

A few snippets which amused me.

1879 Belgium trialled using cats to deliver the mail. The thirty-seven cats did not cooperate and the trail w
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Complete review available: Mail Obsession

I guess I'm giving it a kind-of high rating because of it's quirky appeal. I'm a fan of the postal service (it's classic charm, the magic of a letter, the power of the written word delivered by a friendly postperson...) and I do love the odd, weird facts from the British Isles. I did also like how it was written - there was an index, the key facts were emboldened and it wasn't just a literal list of facts (there as a journey element to it!) However, a map
Sarah Tipper
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mason’s mission is to present us with one hundred and twenty four pieces of trivia, taking one each from each of Britain’s postcodes. This makes for a very varied book. As well as the facts that Mason picks, there are also the contenders, the ones that didn’t quite satisfy him. I was full of trivia by the end of the book. My personal favourite fact was the one from the AL (St Albans) postcode. It was the explanation of the phrase “Bob’s Your Uncle”. This had puzzled me as a child because Bob was ...more
Julian Walker
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A whimsical meander around the UK using the British postal code system as its map and curious, trivial information as its compass.

Tremendous fun and written in a way that would make any spider building a web proud – it immediately draws you in and before you can notice it you are completely enmeshed in tales of the bizarre, eccentric and downright delightful.

Full of so much useless information that this should be compulsory reading for anyone looking to understand the British.

Mar 31, 2016 added it
This is a book by a real obsessive, for trivia. Having read a previous writing (Walk the Lines) I was looking forward to this piece with expectation, and was not disappointed. Who else would go to the furthest point in the British Isles just to see his letter delivered. The facts presented were both interesting and amusing, my favourite being the naming of the "Quality Street" chocolates.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone not just those who like trivia.
Sarah Spencer
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
If, like me you are a fan of useless trivia, then you will absolutely love this book. I was expecting it to be the kind of book that lives in the bathroom and you dip in and out of picking up snippets along the way. But it is actually a entertaining story of one persons journey around Britain. On his travels he discovers interesting places, and uncovers useless, but interesting information whilst visiting all 124 postcode areas.
Angie Rhodes
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This was a delight to read, something a little different.
Mark Mason, decided to travel the length and breadth of Britain, via Post Codes, and at each stop finds a little nugget of trivia, about the places he is staying, I have learnt things, I would not believe and in an interesting way, Loved it!
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I made the mistake of trying to dip in and out of this book and that left me a little frustrated ... however, when reading it from the beginning the little segues between postcodes read far more comfortably .... enjoyable journey!
Simon Lucas
rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2020
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Mark Mason's previous non-fiction includes The Importance of Being Trivial, Walk the Lines, The Bluffer's Guide To Football and The Bluffer's Guide To Bond. He is also the author of three novels, and has written for most British national newspapers (though never about anything too heavy), and magazines from The Spectator to Four Four Two. He lives in Sussex with his partner and son. ...more

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