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Search tags: General-Fiction
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text 2019-01-15 09:57
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 288 pages.
The Honey Factory: Inside the Ingenious World of Bees - Diedrich Steen,Jürgen Tautz

So. much. science.

 

Which is awesome.  I'm thoroughly enjoying it and getting exactly what I wanted: an in-depth, you-are-there, description of the world of honey bees and what we know so far about how they function in the hive.

 

Originally written in German, the translation is good, but it's funny because the narrative voice reminds me so much of the way one of my former colleagues in Denmark spoke English.  Grammatically perfect, but with a rhythm–dare I say melody?–that made it sound like he was ... I want to say 'talking to a  child' but it wasn't condescending; it was simply a similar cadence.  It's hard to explain, but the result is I can't hardly read this without picturing him in my head and hearing his voice.  Which is totally ok (I liked him), but a tad discordant too, as to the best of my knowledge he was not a beekeeper.  

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review 2019-01-11 07:16
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell
More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell

Short, cute and entertaining, though it did make me wonder about people...

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review 2019-01-10 10:19
That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words And Their Tangled Histories
That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words And Their Tangled Histories - Kathryn Petras,Ross Petras

My 'discovery' of this book is a perfect example for the argument of using a continuity of style on book covers.  A year or two ago, I bought and read You're Saying it Wrong, book about commonly mispronounced words, and loved it (I've been saying Turmeric and Van Gogh wrong all. my. life.)  I recognised the similar cover on this, the authors' newest, and immediately snatched it up.

 

I should really rate this 4.5 stars, because in retrospect, I can recall several typographical and at least 1 grammatical error in the text, which seems especially egregious in a book about grammar.  But I suppose perfection is an unreasonable expectation even for a grammar book.  Actually, I don't believe that, but I am too lazy to adjust my rating.

 

Other than that, it's an excellent reference for word pairs that are often confused with each other, including the obvious affect/effect as well as some I'd never thought about before but were obvious when I saw them, like trooper/trouper, flair/flare and flout/flaunt. Also included are words/terms that are just used wrong, like epicentre and ambivalent.  

 

Scattered throughout the list are a few spreads that cover when to use who/whom, the correct usage of lay/lie (I found their explanation for this the most useful I've ever read), and a general guide for latin and greek plurality: when to use 'i', 'a', 'ae', and 's'.  This one sort of cleared up a running debate MT and I have had concerning the plural of 'platypus' - while we both favoured 'platypi' on aesthetic grounds (it sounds better than 'platypuses', which is what the local sanctuary has settled on), it would seem logical to follow the same rule used for 'octopus', which is 'octopodes'.  I find this a happy compromise (MT is stubbornly sticking to the incorrect but more melodious platypi).

 

Each entry includes an example of the incorrect usage, the etymological history of the word/words, and most of the time, examples of correct usage for each word as well as basic definitions of each (nb: the author's state upfront that this is based on the North American dialect of English).  It's well written, not dry, and informative.  It will be a handy reference in the future when I'm unsure which word to use.

 

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review 2019-01-10 03:16
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell

I was looking for something to read last night after finishing Notes from a Public Typewriter and found this in my stacks.  I have no recollection of buying it.  In fact, not only was I prepared to swear I didn't have it, I actually did say, not 48 hours ago, that I didn't have a copy.  Excellent organisation skills I have, no?

 

Anyhoo... this was just the thing after reading Notes from a Public Typewriter - it was a similar subject, but much lighter, funnier and absolutely not philosophical.  I wavered between 3.5 and 4 stars because I'd have liked the collection to be a little longer.

 

A few of the many examples that 

... made me chuckle:

 

Customer: Do you have Agatha Christie's Death in Denial?

 

 

... made me laugh out loud:

 

Customer: Oh look, they've got a section on dictionaries.  Perhaps we should get your brother one for school, for Spanish, what do you think?

 

Her daughter: Can we get one for when we go to Scotland for our holidays?

 

Customer: They talk English in Scotland, too, sweetie.

 

 

... made me rage:

 

Customer:  I'm just going to nip to the supermarket to do the weekly shop.  I'm going to leave my sons here, is that ok?  They're 3 and 5.  They're no bother.

 

and 

 

Customer (holding up a copy of a Harry Potter book): This doesn't have anything ... weird in it does it?

Bookseller: You mean, like, werewolves?

Customer: No, (whispers) - gays.

Bookseller: ...right.

 

A quick, easy and enjoyable read.

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review 2019-01-10 02:52
Notes from a Public Typewriter
Notes From A Public Typewriter - Michael Gustafson,Oliver Uberti

When Literati Books opened in Ann Arbor Michigan, the owner put an old typewriter out in the stacks, with a sheet of paper in it, curious about what might happen.  In his wildest dreams, he imagined a sort of never ending story, where each patron would pick up where the last one left off; a true community built novel. Pragmatically, he figured he'd end up with a lot of nonsense or jokes about bodily functions.

 

What he got was something totally different and totally special.  People wrote some silly stuff, but they also wrote poems, posed philosophical questions, proposed, broke up, and otherwise bared their souls.  After several years of collecting the daily contributions, Gustafson was convinced to collect his favourites into what became this book.

 

Notes from a Public Typewriter is short, I think I read the whole thing in about an hour.  It's almost purely a collection of what Gustafson considered the best, the funniest, the most touching.  There are photos of the shop and patrons throughout, and every few pages, Gustafson writes a short essay-type piece to introduce context to some of the inclusions.

 

The 5 stars is because this book, for all its simplicity, moved me.  By the end, it was hard to stay dry-eyed, to be honest.  I'm sure Gustafson has collected a LOT of dreck over the years, but the simple lines he included here were honest, heart-felt, and sometimes raw.  

 

I don't go looking for books that reveal what goes on beneath the surface, so I'm really no judge, but this one worked for me.  What is on the face of it an anonymous, ever changing, mass of humanity going in and out the doors of one shop, is revealed in this short volume to be instead the very definition of a community.

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