They are loathed by a lot of Spanish high-school students: cuadernos de verano, basically exercise books that concerned parents (who cannot afford a private teacher) buy so that their offspring don’t forget the basics of the past academic year during the very long summer holidays (approx. 11 weeks).
After last year’s success with 15.000 copies sold, the publisher Blackie Books has now presented the second volume of its exercise book for adults; the aims are “mental deoxidization and cultural reforestation”. The authors are Daniel López Valle (texts) and Cristóbal Fortúnez (graphics; website).
These are exercise book that entertain (rarely the case with the traditional ones for students) and teach, a kind of Trivial Pursuit in paper format that gathers different fields of knowledge and transforms them in funny quizzes, wordsearches, labyrinths and tests. And it is not only about popular culture but also literature, art, history, politics, international facts together with movies, TV and the music of “our” youth (i.e. 1980s and 90s).
As to the contents of vol. 1, the publisher’s summary read: 151 exercises, 473 illustrations, 12 big info-graphic tables, 9 extraordinary histories, more than 100 hours of unusual study, more than 1,000 personalities and celebrities, more than 3,000 calories consumed when finished.
Among the topics treated in vol. 2 are:
“Does the Vatican have nuclear warheads?”
“Where does the Stendhal syndrome come from?”
“What’s the real name of Captain America?”
[This post is based on Blackie Books’ website and Kiko Amat’s review in “Culturas”, La Vanguardia, July 24, 2013, p. 22]