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Competition: Win a Set of Very Short Introductions

The Very Short Introduction series (the VSI collection) has long been a stalwart part of the Oxford University Press publishing house. These books are pocket-sized insights into a variety of subjects; over three hundred of them thus far. They explore the historical, economic and social aspects of a variety of topics, ranging from art to religion to world events.

We have a collection of eight VSIs to give away, courtesy of Oxford University Press. This hamper includes the following topics:

  • Film
  • Magic
  • Children’s Literature
  • The Periodic Table
  • The Conscience
  • Islam
  • The Animal Kingdom
  • Angels
Perfect for any reference collection (or starting one), these handy little books need a good home. To win this collection, answer the following question in the comments section:
Give a very short introduction (about a paragraph) to your favourite book, film, album or game 

This competition closes Sunday 5th of February at midnight. Winners will be announced on Monday 6th of February and will have one month to claim their prize. Should the prize go unclaimed, a second winner will be chosen.

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20 Responses to Competition: Win a Set of Very Short Introductions

  1. Suphiya February 2nd, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    My favourite book at this moment is:
    The Elephant Whisperer: Learning About Life, Loyalty and Freedom From a Remarkable Herd of Elephants by Anthony Lawrence.

    A wonderful moving story on one man’s race to save a heard of elephants.
    Its not just another documentary about a man running a game reserve.
    It is captivating and full of characters, he brings the elephants to life in a humanly way.
    Filled with humour and sadness as he tries to keep the heard safe and the bond formed between him and the elephants is truly remarkable.
    An excellent read and I would recommend it to all…This book has just increased my love for elephants.


  2. Bibi February 2nd, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    My favourite book is Agaat (2004) by Marlene van Niekerk. The novel makes fantastic use of the Afrikaans langauge and its’ songs and literature, yet the English translation by Michiel Heyns is just as impressive.

    The novel is about Milla, and Afrikaans matriarch living on a farm in the Overberg district, and the coloured girl she initially adopts as a daughter, but later use as a maid.

    The novel says a lot about race and gender relations in South Africa, but does this without being moralistic or simplistic, instead it is a textured and intricate account of Milla’s life and psyche.

  3. Matthew Wessels February 2nd, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    My favourite game at the moment is Assasin’s Creed. The deisgn is aestetically beautiful, and the credo of the game is what appeals to me, as it is multi-faceted.

  4. Farzannah Saib February 2nd, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    My favourite book is always the one I am reading at the time. This time it happens to be Mrs Fry’s Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry…no, wait…by Stephen Fry…no, scrap that…oh bother. I’ll let you decide. Edna is a sophisticated, well-travelled, and worldwise housewife, who just happens to be married to Stephen, a lowly, beer-guzzling, uneducated window cleaner, whom she is madly in love with. Pity he resembles some successful actor or the other. And keeps popping up on buses. And in magazines. And the telly. A parting shot: “I’ve cooked roast lamb for lunch today. It looks and smells delicious, even if I do say so myself. A shame we’re out of mint sauce, but we’ve got plenty of Listerine.”

  5. Graeme Comrie February 2nd, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Age of Empires 2 is the best game ever. You create villagers who chop wood and mine minerals and harvest food to feed more villagers who build you buildings to house armies which vanquish other armies which wins you the game. Then you start the next game.

    It’s genius.

  6. Estelle Dry February 2nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    My favourite book is The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. This book has been labeled as the Alice in Wonderland of the East, and is truly a remarkable read. I find the writing of Murakami to be poetic and lyrical, with wierd and wonderful happenings. What I love about this book is that it is inherently Japanese and to a westerner comes across as strange and alien.

    The Wind Up Bird Chronicles the life of Toru Okada, whose cat runs away. This might seem like a boring synopsis for a book but what happens next to him in his mundane life changes will change his existence forever. The people he meets and the things he experiences is truly something that will stick to you days after you have read the book.

  7. Linda February 2nd, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Haruki Murakami 1Q84

    Lost in time and space

    Aomame and Tengo

    Will they meet again?

  8. Pats Sampson February 2nd, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    One of my favourite books is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. The story is set in 1946, the aftermath of World War II in England and tells about the Occupation of the Channel Islands, in particular Guernsey, by the Germans. It is written in the form of letters which are so vivid they draw you into the world of the characters whom you feel as if you know through reading an old diary of a grandparent who lived through that period. It is witty and humorous giving an insight into a time when the world was in chaos, but still leaving a feeling of hope that good conquers evil.
    I am only sorry that the author, Mary Ann Shaffer did not live to write more novels, in my opinion they would have been as marvelous as those of Barbara Kingsolver.

  9. REHANA SEEDAT February 2nd, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    My favourite book is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. A high fantasy novel that has inspired me & continues to inspire music, films, video games & artworks. Sauron the Dark Lord has gathered to him all the Rings of Power, the means by which he intends to rule middle earth. All he lacks in is his plans to dominate, is the one Ring, (the Ring) that rules them all which has fallen into the wrong hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. In a sleepy village in Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home & make a perilious journey across middle earth to the cracks of Doom, there to destry the Ring & foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

  10. Lucille Parkins February 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    My favourite book is The Stand by Stephen King – shows that good can overcome evil. It is fantasy but also life as we live it now – Difficult choice because I am an avid reader & have loads that I could add to the list,

  11. Lynette Plaatjies February 3rd, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    My favourite book is “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” by Steve Harvey. – This book is dedicated to all women. He hopes to empower you with a wide-open look into the minds of men. Women should listen to Steve Harvey when it comes to what a good man is about. Steve Harvey dispenses a lot of fabulous information about men. It’s more than the average man will usually tell you. Steve Harvey will give it up.

  12. Wouter Jonker February 3rd, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    It is a tough choice to decide which is my favourite book between Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s inspiring Infidel and Richard Dawkins mind blowing The Blind Watchmaker. But today I will go with The Blind Watchmaker, it has opened my eyes to the beauty of science and the natural world:

    Ever wondered how life and all its complexity have come about and why there can be such variation between all living things? Take a moment to reflect on the variation just in the Moth world, from Luna Moth to Morgan’s Sphinx. Dawkins writes with remarkable clarity and presents mind numbing ideas in easy to digest prose. This combination alone or along with the remarkable ideas presented makes for arguably one of the most entertaining and enlightening books ever written in popular science.

  13. Nikki February 3rd, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    This would be a wonderful collection to have to help my little girl with her enquiring mind I find that stimulation of a young and active mind with literature is important. So pick Me 😉

  14. Basil Frank February 3rd, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Favorite book of all time: The Lord of the Rings.

    The Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring to gain power over other rings held by the leaders of Men, Elves and Dwarves. Frodo Baggins, a hobbit, later inherits the Ring from Bilbo, his cousin and guardian. Both are unaware of its origin. Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and old friend of Bilbo, learns of the Ring’s history which then sets Frodo on an epic adventure to destroy the ring where it was forged.

    “I don’t know half of you half as much as I should like and I like less than half of you, half as well as you deserve”. Speech given by Bilbo Baggins on his 111th birthday.

  15. Amanda Claassens February 3rd, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    I was fascinated by the vast knowledge of World War II that author Irma Joubert so delicately weaves into her novels. The latest one that I have just finished, Pérsomi, was no exception. I was totally hooked from the onset, and the 500 plus pages posed no problem! What a pleasant way to learn about history, both international and South African.

  16. Mariechen Puchert February 3rd, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doide resputes the popular belief that the brain is a hardwired machine, unable to change its circuits and unable to heal once damaged.
    The author investigates neuroplasiticity – the ability of the brain to change, to rewire itself – by investigating the many stories of patients, doctors and scientists who have overcome the severest of strokes, learning disabilities and even congenital blindness by understanding the plasticity of the brain.
    An excellent work, written like a novel, but at times the neurological concepts may be tough to follow by those not used to the biology thereof.

    P.S: Mods, please delete my previous comment… the url for my site was incorrect there (cringe)

  17. Bongiwe Ndlovu February 4th, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    The first sign of impending doom arrives in the mail at the local newspaper…and then a new murder victim. Filled with unstoppable action, drama and suspense, Postcard Killers is James Patterson’s most vivid and compelling thriller yet. Turn off your phone and get comfortable.

  18. Thokozile J February 4th, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    She’s not in a band. She’s not a solo artist, either. Florence Welch is undefined. Inspired by a painful break-up, sophomore album Ceremonials takes you on an exhausting, but rewarding journey. It’s a road less traveled on the music front: haunting honesty. Like dark chocolate, it’s indulgence without any guilt (no smut here). Let the sound of Florence + the Machine wash over you…

  19. Horn February 5th, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

    Bored with the mundane nature of his life, a bureaucratic office worker known only as “the narrator” who has be unable to discover the meaning of his life, is taken in by the enigmatic Tyler Durden. Admist a love triangle between the narrator, the attention seeking Marla Singer and Tyler, the narrator is guided down the road less travelled of anti-consumerism and utter mayhem by Tyler which ultimately redefines his character that almost costs them their existence.

  20. Martin February 5th, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Slowtrain to Arcturus (Dave Freer)

    Space opera and exploration, but firmly rooted in the plausible, with a wide cast of wildly differing personalities and societies. A series of habitats, each with a different type of civilisation finally makes contact with aliens. Although they are merely motivated by curiosity.

    Really, really, good.

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