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Cool can't be taught. Or can it?
That's the received wisdom, yet the idea behind this sleek, entertaining compendium by Thomas W. Hodgkinson (author of How to Sound Cultured) is that, on the contrary, anyone can increase their cool quotient by learning from the masters and the methods of the past.
As well as identifying the Nine Defining Qualities of Cool, the book takes you on a tour of the 75 Idols’ (from William Blake to Kate Moss, via Marlon Brando and Lou Reed) and 50 Ideas and Ideals’ (drugs, Buddhism, base jumping, irony, etc.) that have created and embodied those qualities. A slim final section, The Real Deal’, presents the author’s own personal, often surprising selection of the 25 coolest things on the planet.
Uncoolness can be unlearnt, is the implication, but anyone aspiring to true cool must ultimately find it for themselves.
Thomas W. Hodgkinson is the co-author of How to Sound Cultured (Icon, 2015) and author of the novel Memoirs of a Stalker (Silvertail, 2015). He writes regularly for The Spectator and the Daily Mail and is a contributing editor at The Week. He lives in North London.