10 March 2016

Book Review: Doctor Who 365

Published today is the latest Doctor Who reference text from BBC Books, written by range stalwart Justin Richards. 365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things, as you may be able to guess covers the entire calendar (yes, even 29 February despite the title) with an entry related to the fictional Doctor Who universe for each day. Also listed are significant in-universe and real world events relating to specific dates. 

Richards states in his introduction that this isn't supposed to be read in any kind of order, just at a glance and that certainly comes across in his writing style. Entries contain rare information but it is equally accessible to the less-versed fan. In order to try and give this as full a review as possible, I did attempt to read the whole thing in order but only managed to reach the end of July in the few weeks I've had this. Up to this point, Doctor Who 365 has certainly been an entertaining read and it's helped by occasional illustrations.

There are a few bits of the book that have confused me slightly, such as entries that seem to bear no relation to the days they're included on, and a day's text taking up a second page just for another sentence or two, but there is much to admire here. This is a mammoth effort from Richards and it is no mean feat just to have compiled a list of events for each day. His familiarity with the programme comes across fluently in his prose, with topics including 'The Doctor Goes Back To School', 'The Fast Return Switch Nearly Destroys The TARDIS' and 'The Slitheen Decide The Earth Is A Commodity To Be Sold'. 

The way each entry is prefixed with this kind of title is a shrewd move on Richards' part as a seasoned viewer may instantly connect a piece to classics such as The Edge of Destruction or Black Orchid but those newer to the programme will still have some personal connection - 'the TARDIS was nearly destroyed?' or 'the Earth was up for sale?'. By covering the middle ground between the two extremes of fandom, Richards makes Doctor Who 365 universally appealing, reminding some readers of stories they had forgotten and providing an intriguing and informative few minutes a day for others. It's almost guaranteed that there will be new material for each reader, even for the more knowledgeable customer as some entries go into depth on subjects such as Vincent van Gogh or detail histories of television characters only previously discussed in other media.

365 isn't really what I'd describe as a coffee table book owing to its format, being more of a quick reference guide, but it is still published in a luxury hardback edition, allowing for a bit of wear and tear as it is pulled from the shelf each day. Despite a couple of peculiar choices, this does what it sets out to very successfully, working well both as an interesting daily dose of Doctor Who and if you wish to read the whole lot chronologically in a few sittings - though prepare for a little repetition.

In short, 365 isn't an essential purchase but, for its fresh approach to Doctor Who's vast canon and its amiable style and presentation, is highly recommend.

A huge thanks to Sophie Goodfellow at Emma Draude PR.

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