Travel Back in Time with Tamara Dever’s ‘I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie’ [REVIEW]

Remember all your favorite classic hits with games, trivia and more in I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. (Author photo courtesy Tamara Dever)

Great books. Danceable music. Brain-teasing trivia. What do these three items have to do with each other? Author Tamara Dever made the connection between them decades ago, before playlists replaced mixed tapes (remember cassettes?) and long before books were downloaded on tablets rather than checked out at the library. Get ready to go “Back in Time” Marty McFly style with Dever’s new music quiz book, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. It’s a fun retrospective of everything we loved most about growing up in the 80s!

Narrow Gate Books

Some of my favorite music ever recorded debuted back in the mid-1980s. Only in my early teens at the time, I understood why Whitney Houston was asking “How Will I Know,” even as Michael Jackson was busy moonwalking in front of the “Man in the Mirror.”

Other artists also began to stand apart from the crowd. Sting was an “Englishman in New York” while Cyndi Lauper put her “True Colors” on display and Madonna lifted a lace-clad hand and said “Papa Don’t Preach.” Most of these headliners were new to the airwaves and we couldn’t get enough of the sweet grooves they kept churning out. Or as Bryan Adams succinctly put it, “Kids Wanna Rock.” And we did, at least until our tape deck ate our mixed tape!

But as crazy as I was about music, I have always been a bibliophile too, something Dever seems to get, which is why this volume of music quizzes, games, puzzles and trivia is so cool. She shares those same passions, and has connected the worlds of books and albums with brilliant brain teasers that make us think even as we hum along to the soundtrack of our youth.

Some of the answers would be perfect for a game of Jeopardy! while others are reminiscent of the Mad Libs we all loved to fill out as kids. Sometimes she has us singing newly revised lyrics to old hits or completing crossword puzzles with solutions found in our favorite song titles. She’s also curated some nifty song lists that take us on musical road trips or would have made great children’s books. Her creativity knows no bounds!

If you (or someone you know) always has a song in your head, can turn ordinary conversations into song-and-dance numbers ready for the next ABBA musical, or remembers every bit of choreography from MJ’s “Thriller” video, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie was written with you in mind. It will send you hurtling into the past faster than Max Headroom can pitch you a can of “New Coke.” Whether you buy it as a gift for your favorite fortysomething or get it for yourself to relive your glory days, this volume is guaranteed to make you smile. “Catch the wave!”

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Tamara Dever
Tamara Dever


Tamara Dever is an award-winning book designer and founder and creative director of TLC Book Design, a leading boutique book creation firm for publishers of all sizes.

She grew up on books, music, and art and began reading at a very early age. She’s an insatiable lover of 70s and 80s pop and rock music and culture and is somewhat addicted to playing lyrics trivia games with her colleagues. Concerts are her favorite thing to do on date night.

Tamara lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a boatload of books, cassettes, albums and CDs.

For more information, connect with Tamara at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You may also email her at

By Tamara Dever
114 pp. Narrow Gate Books. $19.87

Purchase I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie direct from Jathan & Heather’s Beach Reads Book Shop or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, IndieBound, or Powell’s.

In case you didn’t get the Marty McFly reference in the intro, have fun watching this video of the Huey Lewis and the News hit “Back in Time” as featured in the Steven Spielberg film, Back to the Future.

And if you don’t remember Max Headroom, perhaps this will jog your memory.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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