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review 2018-05-12 04:00
Swearing is Good for You by Emma Byrne
Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language - Emma Byrne

I'm not sure what I thought I was getting into with this book, but I found it to be rather dry and full of repetitive anecdotes. It also made a reference to evolutionary psychology at the end and made several references to Steven Pinker's work.


I'll admit that the book and I didn't get off to a very good start because I found it questionable the way it included racist-based swearing as a category in the list of basic types of swear words because it implied that the strong emotional responses to those words only validates their use as swear words (that's what I got out of her meandering arguments, anyway). It also highlights how swearing can help build team cohesiveness in the workplace while glossing over just how abusive it can make workplaces for those who don't play along.


I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it except that I had finished my latest ebook, hadn't chosen another one, and all my other books on the go from the library were quite thick and harder to carry around.

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review 2017-01-29 16:16
Be a Writer that You already are
Robot Coconut Trees: Break Through Writer's Block, Unleash Your Creative Voice, and Become the Writer You Already Are - Kelsey Horton

* I have received this book through Goodreads Giveaways and I will be leaving my honest and heartfelt opinion on it.


** Note: I apologise for the delay in posting my review but I didn't wish to do it in a hurry so I took my time, re-read some chapters, put a lot of sticky notes throughout and focused on some exercises so I can fully grasp and appreciate this work that I so kindly received from its author.


I will start by saying that 'Robot Coconut Trees' is the perfect title for this book. Everyone who has read it will appreciate it tremendously. And I love the cover, it is full of colour, full of inspiration... full of life.


This book is an inspirational, spiritual, self-help type of a book in which the writer, Kelsey Horton, helps all of us, her readers, to unleash our creative voices and to become Writers that we already are. But this book is not just that, it's very difficult to put books like this in strictly labelled boxes because this book grows and expands from chapter to chapter and teaches us not just how to become writers but also how to love and accept ourselves as we are, to get involved in our communities more, to put our hearts out there and to be ready to receive all the good and bad that could come from it.


When it comes to helping us in our becoming a writer process, despite having exercises and advices, this book focuses more on breaking through our inner restraints and learning how to accept that we already are writers rather than giving us more technical advice on the process itself. In my opinion, this doesn't take away anything from the book itself because there are plenty of people out there - myself included- who do need to hear this and who do need help with unleashing ourselves because we think that the world doesn't need our boring stories or our uninteresting mundane books. This is the book which I would recommend to people to start with so they can be in a right state of mind before they set out on that journey which will not only make them better writers but better and more fulfilled people in general.



"We read and write to cling to a flickering hope that someone out there feels the same clatter of discordant emotions that we do. We toss our words out to the sea and beg for someone to identify with what we are saying and break through the isolation."



And this, along with many other thoughts and statements like this one, is something that has helped me see, really see. I am a very realistic type of a person, with somewhat of a negative outlook on the world and mankind and the future before us. But seeing so many of my doubts and negative thoughts clearly reflected and dealt with in this book has helped me realise... I am not alone. I am not the only one who thinks like that or who feels this way. There is someone out there who understands that part of me and who has been in the same spot on this journey of self-realisation that I am right now. And I felt - liberated. Because I see this isn't the end, this isn't how I will always be like if I dare to step out of my little dark corner and share my thoughts and fears and desires with the world.


I have been on the similar path that the author has been on. I was a creative child, my work has been published in magazines for children, I wrote poems, I loved seeing my thoughts take solid form as I wrote them down on a piece of paper. But the world has a knack for keeping us down, confining us all in the same safe little fake lives that others expect from us to have (like adults saying that writing isn't a real job right before you need to choose your college and direction in life) and smothering our creativity until it all becomes acceptably grey and unnoticeable. And many people will stay safe in those little bubbles going through life without even noticing the change of colours around them. But there are those who at some point in their lives realise that basic truth that they are different, that they are unique, that they are colourful and that they don't want quiet and safe, they want exciting and heartfelt and unruly and amazing and heartbreaking and tearful... but real, emotional, ever-changing path that will lead them to greatness.


The only problem I could see some people having with this book is that it is fairly repetitive. And I do admit that sometimes it is. But I will argue that it needs to be. Because the author is doing her best to reach our inner writers, our inner shining marvels, and she can't do that if she lets her words fall flat saying them once just for the sake of having it in there. She needs to repeat her convictions and encouragements and advices and positive thoughts so it will get through to us, so that it will break down our walls and touch our hearts.


On a final note, I will leave you all with a beautiful thought from our dear author which I have read many times over and which has made me a much happier me.



"This Universe is not a withholding universe: we can't 'blow it', we can't 'miss our chance' or 'throw that opportunity away' or fall prey to any other slew of imaginary failure stories. If we miss the boat once, a new boat will come around again - our boat this time, the boat that is a little more perfect for us. The boat we should have taken all along."


* This review has also been posted on my Goodreads page:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1895799646

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review 2017-01-22 22:14
Fucking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin
Fucking Apostrophes - Simon Griffin

O little book, you have amused me.


This short little book covers apostrophe usage with little asides like:

“See that fence over there? Take a nice comfy seat on it with me and watch them fight it out. The important thing is to know the meaning of each one, and remember, it’s just a fucking apostrophe.”


I should mention that this book covers current British usage, so North Americans may argue with some of it, but I’ve been noticing that NA has been following the British trends in apostrophe usage more and more anyway, so it may just be a matter of time. Also, although Griffin acknowledges the changing usages over time, he doesn’t really cover the evolution. It’s a really short book. I don’t regret getting it though.


Perfect for grammar geeks and those who appreciate a good swear. Some sections are best read out loud to unsuspecting people.


Thanks, MbD, for bringing this book to my attention!

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review 2016-12-12 12:36
Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal
Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation - David Crystal

Honestly, after I got into it, I enjoyed it so much that I was tempted to give it a higher rating, but I think I’ll stick to four stars. Because it did take me a little while to get into.


I’m not sure whether it was actually slower at the beginning, or whether I just wasn’t in the mood for it, but it took a while. Of course, after that it was hard not to notice the way Crystal’s humour infused the text and made a potentially dry read about punctuation into an amusing one. Some of it comes from relating personal stories, like the ones about how young children incorporate what they’ve learned about the punctuation system into their own writing in interesting ways on page 114:


“I recall one youngster (age about seven) who put a full stop at the end of every line of his story, regardless of sense. Another who put one between each word of the story title. Yet another had a fascination with semicolons. When I asked her why she used them so much, she replied that she liked the size and that they were pretty. And when I suggested a full stop was the normal way of ending a sentence, she looked very dubious, and observed that if you wanted to show something had come to an end, then surely the bigger the better?”


He also got points for referencing Terry Pratchett in his section on exclamation points. I was amused by some of the examples he used for when line break hyphenation rules could create miscues (e.g. the-rapists) or where you wouldn’t expect a phrase to be written as solid text due to pairs of vowels creating momentary uncertainty: freeenterprise amused me in particular. Hyphen hysteria made me smile too (p 264):


“And if you were in the habit of using the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, and had internalized its recommendations, you would have had a real shock in 2007, when the sixth edition was published and you saw that around 16,000 items had had their hyphens removed. Most of the changes had the hyphen replaced by a solid setting (pigeon-hole > pigeonhole, cry-baby > crybaby, bumble-bee > bumblebee), but quite a few ended up spaced (test-tube > test tube, ice-cream > ice cream, hobby-horse > hobby horse). Reactions ranged from the hysterical to the bemused. Some observers called it ‘hyphengate’.”


And with regards to the amalgamated town East Carbon-Sunnyside, I think the name “East Carbon Sunnyside” would be way cooler. It sounds like it would be good for a science fiction setting. C’mon, writers!


All in all, this was an amusing and informative read that didn’t try to lay down the rules (which are variable) so much as try to explore the different punctuation options available and how they can be used to effect in “making a point”. It also covered some of the history of US vs. UK usage and that of different publishing houses. He didn’t neglect the Internet usages and made some interesting points about the default lack of ending punctuation in most text messaging leading to the ability to convey subtleties in tone by purposefully including it in certain situations.




[Aside: There seems to some variation as to whether the subtitle says “pernickety” or “persnickety”. My copy reads Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation. Now, is that UK vs. US usage? I would say “persnickety”, personally. I’m also now overly conscious of when I decide to use quotation marks over italics.]

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text 2016-12-06 02:37
Reading progress update: I've read 109 out of 400 pages.
Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation - David Crystal

I proudly showed off this book today as the book that I'm carrying around in case I have time to read, but I'm saddened to have to admit that when asked about it, I didn't have much to say. Because at that point, I couldn't remember much of what I'd liked earlier in it, except that it was sort of interesting. A lot of it is actually about the different marks of punctuation and there's a bunch of quotes and stuff.


But later, when I was reading it on the bus, I realized that I was actually smiling while reading because I found the tone or the remarks or whatever amusing. This is why Crystal is my favourite linguist, even when it feels like he's recycling some of the material. Of course, it may just feel that way because there's only so much that can be said about a comma, and people keep having the same arguments over commas and the other punctuation marks. Maybe there's more to commas than I think. People have been arguing about them for an awfully long time. Or maybe I just read too many books about punctuation.


Part of what I found amusing was the criticism of works on punctuation starting with the comma rather than the period or full stop. You know, that thing that marks out the basic unit called a sentence? Historically they started with the comma, so everyone seems to start with the comma. Does it make sense? Eh, not really. Tee hee.

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