How to Live to 110

In April of 2012, Professor Brian Kirby and his son Tim Kirby (PhD) ended Tim's lifelong ambition to publish a piece of literature when they jointly published How to Live to 110. A self help guide from a medical professional. I recently finished reading such a book and was pleased to write a review for them. I have spoken to Professor Kirby and was able to get some behind the scenes information on the writing of the book.

Before discussing such things however, it seems appropriate to give my opinions of the book and its layout. The book itself and the lexemes within, it is all in simple English and completely comprehensive to your average reader. It has been the case so many times that I have bought such a book and it has been completely impossible to read, let alone understand. This book is not the same, and indeed has a category of its own. The book is fun to read, probably due to its easiness, and is full of knowledge, facts and information and so I shall discuss many linguistic points that makes the book what it is.

The book includes lexemes which are appropriate to all readers, even those who are not confident in the reading of the English language. The words are clear and used with a flow which makes the book a fun and interesting thing to read. Many other books of such nature use lexemes which are appropriate only for those who are already qualified (or perhaps are qualifying) in an advanced scientific area. They then do not appeal to the general public, this book is different. The words are chosen carefully to suit the normal person.

Semantically the words all have clear meanings and definitions making the work far easier to read and understand. I was very pleased with the choice of words and the lack of mixed semantics which could be applied to each word. It made the book far easier to read when you are not wondering about the meaning and do not have to refer to your dictionary or thesaurus in order to understand something that was written, throughout my course of reading such a book, this has not happened once.

The discourse and layout of the work is one which is simple and easy to refer to. It is for the most point laid out in paragraphs; however it includes detailed graphemes which display both images and tables/diagrams which are fun, relevant and easy to understand. Again it seems as though these things have been deliberately chosen to be clear to the regular reader, as well as to emphasise what has been written within the book.

The titles are also clear without being ridiculous; the book uses both main headings and sub-headings, displaying neatly the overall focus of each chapter and going on to divide the chapter into further relevant sections.

The use of grammar and syntax is throughout correct. There is a use of both complex and simple sentences (as well as many compound ones) and this makes the style all the better in that we do not see just one kind of sentence, all are included which makes it reach the intelligence levels and reading capabilities of almost everyone. The punctuation used is appropriate and placed in such a way that one can easily read and understand what is written, taking pauses in the appropriate places. Punctuation throughout is also used to emphasise points and one sentence leads on from another.

On an orthographical point, all the words and spelled in to a British (not American) orthography standard. This means that it is in a standard form of Queens English and consequently has British spellings, so for those who do not know British spellings this is a warning, however I am sure this will not be a downfall for most people.

The book uses all these points to its benefit and makes it both easy to read and understand as its linguistic features are clear and concise. I found it a truly interesting and amazing book to read. Along with its beautifully written, easy to understand and at many points chatty, friendly and colloquial English, it is full of interesting and believable facts. I know this book has made a huge difference to my life and how I live it, I'd recommend to all of you to take the chance to read the book and make a difference to your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young; it’s never too late to make a change.

Now I want to take the opportunity to put across the points made by Professor Brian Kirby on the topic of writing the book. He and his son spent many months gathering the information for the book and much longer working on the layout, the illustrations and the format in which the book should be written and here are some of the comments the Professor had on the book.

I asked the Professor many questions in order to get the responses and information for this article.

Tell me about writing the book, a lot of information is in-depth. How did you go about getting the information? Was a lot of research involved of did you simply use medical knowledge?

Putting this book together took a year of research, writing, editing and preparing the illustrations. We must have looked at hundreds of scientific papers to get our facts right, and we had many detailed discussions to work out what we say about some of the more controversial subjects in the book. We ended up with far more material than we had space for, and during the editing process we cut out more than a third of what we had written. Preparing the illustrations was exhausting work. Before we could start, we had to learn how to draw to a high standard using a computer; and then we had to produce all the diagrams and cartoons at high speed to meet our publisher's deadline.

I have heard it has been Tim's lifelong dream to get a piece of literature published; now he's achieved that goal with your help. How do you feel about it and can you tell me about the experience?

Working together was very rewarding. It's not often that a father and son get to work together like this. The book couldn't have been written by either of us alone. It needed both of us: we brought different skills, knowledge and experience that fitted together -- and we're still talking to each other, which shows it all worked well!

I really enjoyed the book; I got a lot of information out of it. What's your view on how it turned out?

We are both really proud of our book. Looking after your health is such an important subject, and we hope our book will help people understand what they need to do. It's especially important for young people as so many are likely to live past 100 years and so need to take steps now to make sure they are in great health when they get old.

Obviously this was a family project, did you find that you got at each other and argued? Or was it all quiet and peaceful? Where were there complications?

Any annoyance was with our publishers, rather than each other, who were slow at times to answer some of our questions and, on occasion, gave us information which on checking was incorrect. They dealt with it rapidly once they were told but we felt they shouldn't have needed us to tell them

That must have been really annoying. Can you tell us anything about that? Was it also your publishers idea on the layout? Did they give you guidance?

Unfortunately 2 editors left the publisher while we were writing so we did not have the continuity we might have expected. As to layout, this was done by Tim and his friend who did the typesetting for us

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