On Our Bookshelves:
They Call Me Naughty Lola


BOOK: They Call Me Naughty Lola

EDITOR: David Rose



In American personal ads, everyone is interesting, fit, attractive, successful, and seeking same for fine dining, travel, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, the feel of the ocean, and so forth. Personal ads in the London Review of Books are another matter entirely, thanks to the LRB’s erudite and self-deprecating readership, which collectively seems to have rather an absurd sense of humor. This irresistible compendium, assembled and annotated by David Rose (who created this personal column back in 1998), deftly illustrates the difference between two peoples divided by an ocean and a shared language.

Here you will find things like:

“Love is strange—wait ‘till you see my feet. F, 34, wide-fitting Scholl’s.”


“What’s your favorite soup? Mine is mulligatawny. Mulligatawny-loving gentleman, 50.”

Or this classic:

“I’d like to dedicate this advert to my mother (difficult cow, 65) who is responsible for me still being single at 36. Man. 36. Single. Held at home by years of subtle emotional abuse and at least 19 fake heart-attacks.”

You get the idea. If “Bald, short, fat and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite,” makes you laugh, pick up this book for hundreds more such adverts. Amazingly (or perhaps not), this column has produced several marriages and friendships over the years. If you should fall in love with one of these lonely-hearts, however, I regret to inform you that the ads in this collection are, quite unfortunately, no longer active. Still, there’s hope for us all.  In a world where you can find “lawyers: impotent revenge fantasies,” “polkas,” and “ungrateful turd,” in the index of this remarkably funny book, anything is possible.


RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3.5 Whistles





A Patchwork Planet, Anne Tyler

A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Gowanus Waters, Steven Hirsch

Heads in Beds, Jacob Tomsky

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, Laurie Colwin

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

If on a winter’s night a traveler, Italo Calvino

Lexicon, Max Barry

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Malice Aforethought, Frances Iles

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

My Life in France, Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson

Out of the Blackout, Robert Bernard

Plotted: A Literary Atlas, Andrew DeGraff

Possession, A.S. Byatt

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle…and Other Modern Verse, Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders, and Hugh Smith

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Oliver Sacks

The Martian, Andy Weir

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

The Mother & Child Project, Hope Through Healing Hands (ed.)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

What If?, Randall Munroe

Up At the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham


Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com


Lead-In Image Courtesy of Scribner