How could I have neglected this book so long! I have found me a new all time favourite. You have no idea how lucky you are that most of the time I was too entertained to post. I have saved quotes at the rate of one-a-chapter, and I was trying to be conservative.
I read, and I kept researching things mentioned, from taxonomy to music or history, and having a blast through-out. I couldn't stop laughing, even during the turkey debacle (there was something inherently funny in that tragedy of childhood).
“Why do you want a donkey?” said Harry.
“Because I don’t think people eat donkeys. Do they?”
The thought that I have to get my mom to read this poped continously too. Mom is a school librarian, and has a project going where she narrates to the kids in a bi-weekly basis. Lending is at an all-time hight since it started. They discuss a lot of what she reads them in a free way, and they come up with the most interesting questions and observations. They also end up researching a lot on their own, (or plain finish the book in a weekend) since there's no obligation *snickers*. Now imagine what this book could spawn. I pestered her on the phone the whole morning (whenever I surfaced from the pages, that is).
There are some narrow anachronisms in general, and I reckon there must be more in particular for the region, since the author apologises in the note at the end. But really? Like one can place every bit acuratedly on ones own timeline. And no child is that aware of herself and her place in the world (hell, most adults aren't that awere of themselves), but while many observations might be too clearly worded, they still ring true to some memories of childhood impressions. Children instincts are an uncanny thing.
So, is it imperfect? I really couldn't tell you, since after reading six glorious months on the life of this child, my only true complain is that I wanted more when I got to the end. More pages, more time with her, more of and for her future.
Another glossary type reference, but without the narrative hook that made Roger, Sausage & Whippet so very engrossing.
This one is all about words coined, or first used by, authors. Shakespeare of course, although he doesn't have the showing you'd expect. A lot of words we take for granted today as being newish, but were actually coined over 100 years ago. (Jane Austen was the first to use base ball in a literary work. Google, while not more than 100 years old, has actually been found in a collection of stories published in 1942 - used as a verb, btw - and long before Sergey Brin and Larry Page were born.)
The author is a neologist himself, something that is made quite clear by his unapologetic promotion of words he's claimed credit for. By the end remarks, it seemed to me that it was very important to him that his name live on in connection with language. It's good to have goals, I guess.
Some of my favourite words from the collection:
Alogotransiphobia: fear of being caught on public transportation with nothing to read. (Created by George V. Higgins in 1992)
Bibliobibuli: drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. (Created by H.L. Menken)
Page 99 Test: Ford Maddox Ford recommended that readers not judge a book by its first few pages, instead recommending that readers "open the book to page ninety-nine and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." Carried forth on the website page99test.com.
When I first picked up this book, I figured I'd flip through it, stopping at words that caught my eye along the way and be finished up with it in a few hours; it's a glossary, after all.
But then I discovered that each lettered section begins with the reproduction of a letter from the front; a man named Charles, writing to his parents, his brother and his nephew. These were good - they were better than good, they turned a freaking glossary into a narrative, and in addition to learning new words (and meanings for old words), I had to keep flipping so I could find out what happened to Charles next, always sure that I was going to get to 'Z' to find a bad news telegram or something. I didn't.
I knocked off 1/2 a star because, while Charles makes it to 'Z', you never find out what happens to him in the rest of the war. A letter at the very start makes it clear he survived, but with 2 years of the war left, 'Z' leaves the reader with something of a small cliffhanger.
Still, way better than your average glossary for readability!
Atlas Obscura is a distillation of the entries on the atlasobscura.com website; it's two creators tried to pick the best entries for most of the world and bound them in a beautiful book full of color photographs and illustrations.
I was unaware of the website when I got this book, and I think that probably made it even better: almost all of the entries were new to me and almost all of them were fascinating, or macabre, or so weird they were worth reading about (a breakout section included examples of doctors on Antartica forced to operate on themselves; a man in Vermont that makes art out of spider webs; the breakout map of Lake Monsters of the USA).
Each of the entries are only a few paragraphs or less, making it easy to pick up and put down at your leisure. If you like traveling, or armchair traveling, and you enjoy reading about the weird and the wonderful, definitely check this book out.