Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Love, Sex, Death, and Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature” as Want to Read:
Love, Sex, Death, and Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Love, Sex, Death, and Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  86 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Love, sex, death, boredom, ecstasy, existential angst, political upheaval - the history of literature offers a rich and varied exploration of the human condition across the centuries. In this absorbing companion to literature's rich past, arranged by days of the year, acclaimed critics and friends Stephen Fender and John Sutherland turn up the most inspiring, enlightening, ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Icon Books Company (first published 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Love, Sex, Death, and Words, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Love, Sex, Death, and Words

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Rebecca Foster
This was my bedside book for 2015. It’s composed of 366 daily entries compiled by John Sutherland, one of my favorite commentators on books, and Stephen Fender. Each entry zeroes in on an event from literary history corresponding to that calendar date. The events range enormously in terms of time period, setting and theme. Births, deaths, anniversaries, Nobel prizes awarded to authors you’ve never heard of, publication dates – this has it all.

A few of my favorite random pieces were: “12 July – T
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Quite possibly this was nothing more than a potboiler. But since we’re talking about John Sutherland here, even a potboiler by him can prove perfectly enjoyable. The idea behind this book is to create a sort of literary calendar, an almanac if you like, with a bit of bookish trivia, a mini essay for each day of the year.

The selection is completely arbitrary and doesn’t even pretend to be anything else and as expected it’s a mixed bag. Some entries are fascinating, some trivial but funny, some ba
Amalia Gavea
I thought I would really like this book. It combined my love for History and Literature in one little volume, but I was frustrated and deeply saddened to abandon it around the 65% mark. Why? I stumbled upon this paragraph concerning the Pottermania phenomenon:

"Reading (particularly reading a 600-page book) is the epitome of couch-potatoism.(...) Reading is a good thing (...) but would it not be an even better thing for children to be outside-actually "doing" something, rather than passively "r

Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a varied and fascinating selection of anecdotes, one for every day of the year. Some are historical, many literary, some biographical, some political. I really enjoyed the articles, and finding out the links between them. I read this book on my Kindle, just dipping into it when I wanted to read for a few minutes (I finished it today in the dentist's waiting room). It is an ideal book for this.
This is more of a book to dip into than one to sit and read for long stretches, or as there is a chapter for each day of the year, you could read one a day and make it last. Each day has a short article on something related to literature, some subjects well-known, others not. The pleasure for me in this was finding out about areas of which I was previously ignorant and on which I might go on to do further reading. And if you don't like one article, there are plenty more to come.
M.G. Mason
Aug 21, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an interesting and unique book that works on a simple premise. Bite sized essays, 366 of so one for each day of the year, that discusses a different aspect every day. It works on a “On this day in year…” and discusses an important or not so important yet otherwise interesting event that happened on that day.

From 1st January chronicling the complications of the copyright of Peter Pan, Alexandre Dumas duel on the 5th January, a vignette of why Johannes Gutenberg is the true villain of The
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The authors have put together a literary themed 'On this day'. It is fair to say that some days they could not find anything of great significance, so the book is quite patchy.
The pieces are short, although several include links to books or websites if we want more information. John Sutherland can be delightfully pithy.
I enjoyed it on the whole and it is an interesting idea and book, even though the content is not all interesting. I have a few quibbles with the book: Dylan Thomas did not 'fatall
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is such an enjoyable book to read all year long. There is an entry for each day of the year - unspecified year so it can started on any date and then read for the year. I began it last September and finished it a year later reading one entry a day, and I looked forward to it each morning. Each entry is connected to literature in one way or another. I bought 10 copies last Christmas for gifts to my book loving friends. I have been rereading entries and will probably continue to do so. FUN fa ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I love almanac type books, with a page or so to read every morning before I head off to work, and this was my choice for 2016. Although enjoyable and occasionally surprising, it didn't quite deliver what I'd hoped it would. Some of the events recorded day by day in its pages were rather dull, some very familiar and others only very tenuously linked with the world of literature. Nevertheless, I discovered some fascinating nuggets along the way, and some new authors to try and books to read.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable book to 'dip into' rather than read from cover to cover. Written by two professors from different sides of the Atlantic, it suffered a little, I felt, from a need to give equal space to each, thus dealing with events or figures which were not only unknown to me but didn't feel particularly interesting either. Repeated material on the Mayflower travellers, for example, may well be of considerable interest to Americans, but once was enough for me.
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this over the past year, a day at a time on the relevant date. It was fun to do it this way and the book, being so densely packed with interesting facts, would have swamped me if I had tried to read it all in one go. Fascinating, informative and a must read for bibliophiles.
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Didn't find much of this very interesting, I'm afraid. May pick it up again one day and give it another go. Nice idea but perhaps this book stretches the concept a bit further than the quality of the content merits.
Fazackerly Toast
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: criticism
far too many long long boring entries about utterly insignificant US writers or events, many with only a tangential relevance to literature, repetitious and lazy.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Loved the idea of this book, but so many of the dates you could tell the authors were really reaching to find something of note.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A bit bitty and repetitive at times, this book is full of witty and interesting literary fact and opinion.
Tierney Green
Nice to dip in and out of, lovely little stories and an interesting mix.
A very clever idea, but perhaps not executed as well as it could have been, as many of the entries were quite similar.
Madhav Nair
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can't really finish reading this book. I dip into it from time to time, find nuggets of trivia, digest and close.
Sandy K
rated it liked it
Aug 24, 2014
rated it liked it
Jul 09, 2011
Tim Jenner
rated it liked it
Dec 25, 2015
Miles Curtis
rated it it was ok
Jun 06, 2015
rated it really liked it
Sep 15, 2011
Julie Bozza
rated it liked it
May 24, 2012
Natalie Prior
rated it liked it
Feb 23, 2013
rated it really liked it
Mar 07, 2013
Jonathan Brown
rated it liked it
Jan 05, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2014
Caroline Doree
rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2014
rated it did not like it
Oct 05, 2013
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • One Hundred Great Books in Haiku
  • Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and a Short Story
  • By the Book: A Reader's Guide to Life
  • What Poets Are Like: Up and Down with the Writing Life
  • Life in Five Seconds
  • Keeping the World Strange:  A Planetary Guide
  • The Delighted States
  • Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie
  • The Book Lovers' Anthology: A Compendium of Writing about Books, Readers and Libraries
  • Stan Lee's How to Write Comics: From the Legendary Co-Creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man
  • How to Sound Cultured: Master The 300 Names That Intellectuals Love To Drop Into Conversation
  • The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette
  • Writing Steampunk!
  • Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author
  • London's Overthrow
  • Books Burn Badly
  • The Avengers and Philosophy: Earth's Mightiest Thinkers
  • The Vampire Handbook
John Andrew Sutherland is an English lecturer, emeritus professor, newspaper columnist and author.

Now Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, John Sutherland began his academic career after graduating from the University of Leicester as an assistant lecturer in Edinburgh in 1964. He specialises in Victorian fiction, 20th century literature, an
More about John Sutherland...