January 29, 2012

The Reading List – The Immortalization Commission, by John Gray

Filed under: Book Discussion — Tags: , — Brian Triber @ 4:01 pm

Image from the MacMillan website.

The Immortalization Commission, by John Gray

Published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, a division of Macmillian publishing.

Gray discusses the connections between Darwin, the Spiritualism movement of the late 19th to early 20th century, scientific inquiry into death, and how the scientific method has helped reclaim spirituality from science.

This is an interesting read, touching upon the key figures and movements in science, philosophy, psychology, and religion of the times that led to the co-development of the Soviet and Western studies of the human soul. It’s a slow read, containing rich language and many interconnected facts, and written almost like a doctoral thesis rife with cross-disciplinary research. Yet the text helps bring to life some of the personalities of the era to explain the scientific, spiritual, and religious drives that led to prevalent 20th Century thought on science and religion. It’s a good read, and worth the effort to reconnect with our current understanding of mortality.

UPDATE – I finally slogged my way through the end of the book, and while I still stand by my previous comments on the work, I have one additional observation. The author tends to put the veracity and validity of science on the same footing with that of religion. This feels a bit to me like apologism in an effort to appear not to be attacking religion. I contend that science, while not a complete philosophy of the universe, is still adaptive enough to allow it to survive the ravages of time, while religion transforms either into mythology, or is subsumed into another religious philosophy. These possibilities weren’t covered in the text, likely because they would have been besides the point. Still, the evolution of philosophy can be dissected in much the same philosophical way as the evolution of man. In some ways, a science or philosophy cannot be said to be valid unless it also accounts for its own creation, existence, and demise.

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May 17, 2011

Time for a Little Enlightenment

Filed under: Book Discussion — Tags: , , , , , — Brian Triber @ 7:20 am

Image ©2007 Eric Pouhier.
A new (to me) must read…

There are books that touch the reader on an emotional level. There are books that are focused on selling a particular brand of spiritual self-help. Then there are books that transcend the marketplace, and in doing so poetically echo their own meaning.

Even if you’ve read it before, the new translation of Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse (trans. by Susan Bernofsky) is worth the revisit. And if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?

The story, in a nutshell, is the transcendent journey of Siddhartha to Buddahood, and those trials he meets and overcomes. Along his path, the very meaning of spiritual seeking is illuminated, and an understanding of our relationship to family, society, and the divine are laid out in the elegant, and misleadingly simplistic, tale. There’s love, friendship, humor, irreverence, joy, sex and death — all the good things in life. But there’s also the message of how to balance spiritual life with living in the world, and an understanding of the necessary solitary work needed for transcendence.

In this version, Bernofsky provides an enchanting and melodic translation whose phrasal repetitions transport the reader into 400BCE India. Between the sentences, between the perfumed melody and the silken prose, one can hear the snapping of twigs underfoot, smell the forests and villages, feel the spray of the river speaking to Siddhartha, and form an understanding of what samadhi, the single-mindedness of meditative and contemplative being, is. And this is what makes the story work on a poetic level — each of the chapters, meditated on, reveals a new understanding of what it is to be human, and how each of us is also Buddha consciousness.

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. New Translation by Susan Bernofsky. Published by Random House, ISBN 978-0-8129-7478-2.

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April 27, 2011

The e-reader Debacle, Revisited…

Filed under: Book Discussion — Tags: , — Brian Triber @ 6:45 pm

After living through three months of my computer limping along — its internal hard drive crashed, and its system running from an external hard drive — I finally broke down and got a new Mac laptop. The new computer works like a dream, and setting it up only took an hour after I plugged it into the old one — all of my settings were exactly the same without any tweaking!

I also took the opportunity to upgrade my major software: the new Microsoft Office works (surprisingly). My new version of FileMaker Pro is great. Adobe CS5 with Dreamweaver is amazing, and I got 90 days free training from lynda.com. And right now I’m dictating this blog entry using Dragon dictation for Mac.

So, with everything else working perfectly, you can imagine my consternation when several purchased e-books refused to open in my Sony e-reader library software. Since I purchased the e-books from Borders.com, I assumed it would be a rather easy thing to download them again. But, alas, I had to reinstall the e-library software from the Sony e-reader. After a week of going back and forth with Borders, I finally got my e-books re-downloaded. But then, I discovered I couldn’t synchronize my computer with my e-reader!

For some odd reason, connecting the E-reader to my Mac resulted in an icon appearing in the library titled “Error.” With no error code associated with the mysterious error, a visit to the Sony website did little to help. After a half-hour on the phone with Sony, manipulating the E-reader in various ways by plugging paperclips into holes, and triggering repetitive stress injuries from holding various buttons in contortive ways, I was finally told that my e-reader, which I had spent in excess of $80 on two years ago, is not compatible with my new computer’s Intel processor.

This episode brings up two separate issues: First, there is no guarantee that, when a system crashes, replacement e-books can be retrieved from the merchant websites where they were purchased originally. I lucked out this time, because my e-reader software was easily reinstalled, although I had to jump through hoops to reactivate both my Sony account, and my Borders.com account. (Heaven knows why it had to be this complicated in the first place.)

Secondly, what is the point in paying $100 or more for an E–reader which will not remain compatible with newer computer systems? It’s true that many new e-readers use Wi-Fi to download books, and if my current e-reader used Wi-Fi I wouldn’t have had the library problem I experienced.

The Wi-Fi approach, however, has two big operational holes for consumers, and my experience only serves to underline those issues. Firstly, there is no guarantee that an e-book store will remain around forever. In the case of Borders.com, even though the company is restructuring, if somewhere down the line they go out of business, my e-library on Borders.com is gone. There is no retrieving my purchases again. And for that reason, I need to have a way to back up my e-books. But, and this is the second issue, if my e-reader only had a Wi-Fi connection, then there would be no way to synchronize it to my computer for backup.

With e-book purchases, the consumer is not actually purchasing a book. We are purchasing a license to view the book on a particular device. If that device becomes defunct, there is currently no way to transfer an existing e-book library to a new device. As most computer consumers know, technology is upgraded on average every three years. What this means is that every time a new device is purchased, our entire e-book libraries will also have to be repurchased, or restored from the original e-book store where it was purchased (if it still exists.)

So where does that leave me? I’m stuck with an e-book library which I can only read on screen on my computer. Until I purchase a new e-reader — which at this point is wholly unlikely. Many e-reader manufacturers may claim that the technology is mature, but until these issues are ironed out they are still not ready for prime time.

Your thoughts?

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April 14, 2011

To e-, or not to e-… That is the Question

Filed under: Book Discussion,Publishing Industry — Tags: , , — Brian Triber @ 10:01 pm

Image by Christoph Michels
via Wikimedia Commons.
Are e-books really here to stay? Not yet…

There have been many articles coming out of the publishing industry, both for and against the inevitability of e-books replacing print books. Most have focused on the industry impact e-book sales are making to publishers’ bottom lines, which e-book formats are selling best, and what the pricing on e-books should be. What the e-book industry is neglecting, however, is the end user’s experience. They’ve forgotten that, as in the case of the Daewoo Matiz, that customer satisfaction drives sales, not the other way around (that and decent engineering).

I’ve been quietly enjoying my Sony large-format e-reader for over a year now, and the hardware itself seems to be stable. The software interface, or “library” that is maintained on my Mac, not so much. Whenever my e-reader’s memory has been zapped, It it needs to synchronize the whole library all over again, choking up every time. But this is a time inconvenience — I can leave it to synch overnight if need be. At least I haven’t lost any of my books. Or so I thought.

Enter the Borders.com e-book store. A while ago I purchased a few e-books online from Borders.com, and loaded them into my library without a problem. Then my computer crashed in January. Aside from the nightmare of rebuilding my system disk and reinstalling my software, I suddenly realized that some of my e-books were no longer available for reading. What did the missing books all have in common? They were all .pdf files purchased from Borders.com. So, I logged into my account there to download those files again. The deal was that Borders.com was supposed to remember what I had purchased and make sure that those licenses were available to my home computer. But, surprise, the files are now registered to another user — i.e., not my rebuilt system.

I’ve emailed Borders asking for a way to fix this but have received no response. This in itself should be no surprise since the IT department was gutted in the last reorg before they declared Chapter 11 (my source is Publishers Weekly’s Borders Watch column.)

Purchasing e-books from other sources can be fraught with frustration as well. Amazon requires either owning their Kindle or downloading a free kindle-reader app. Similiarly, Barnes and Noble does the same thing with their Nook.

The obvious problem that all these companies are overlooking is that no one wants to pay $100-$300 for three different devices so that they can read the books they want to read. That’s why the open-source .epub format exists — it’s a free format that allows people to read e-books on Sonys, Libres, and all the other third-party e-readers. The problem is you can’t buy an .epub book on Amazon or B&N, and if you purchase on Borders its linked to one machine and can’t be shared or loaned out.

So, ignoring the other reasons for not purchasing e-books (like the lack of tactile materials, dimensionality for pop-up books, and ability to have a favorite author autograph your copy), until a single usable universal format exists, I’m going to have to keep killing trees, or risk losing my library in an EMF event.

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January 18, 2011

2010 In Review – My Unwieldy Bookshelf

Image by Maciej Szczepaniak from Wrocraw, Poland
(Books Uploaded by guillom) [CC-BY-2.0],
via Wikimedia Commons

What have you read this past year?

Looking back at 2010, I hadn’t expected that I’d read the volume of books I have during the course of the year. For one thing, I’m not a very fast reader — I tend to savor the language, unless the book is a work of non-fiction. Jeanette Walls happily changed that outlook with her memoir. For another, I tend not to read while I’m working on a project, since I have limited time to begin with, and I try to shoehorn my reading in after dinner and before bed.

I also tend to purchase a lot more books than I have time to read, and that pile is growing almost uncontrollably. As a result, I have no less than a dozen books on my bedside table that I started reading during 2010, their dust jackets neatly tucked into the page I left off. (I generally don’t use bookmarks, since the metal ones tend to tear and bend the page, while the paper ones get bent and damaged, and I can’t bring myself to spend $3-$5 on a paper bookmark, especially since it would remain in the book indefinitely. If I really need a bookmark, I’ll use a plastic post-it tag.) So, ignoring my current reads, here’s an abbreviated list of some of the books I’ve devoured in 2010.

Armageddon In Retrospect
by Kurt Vonnegut.

This is a post-mortem collection of stories, essays, and miscellany that Vonnegut wrote about his experiences in World War II, among other things. The part that sticks with me is his exploration of his time as a POW under Nazi Germany, and the Dresden fire bombing. Not a cheery book by any means, but is full of the venomous double-speak that Vonnegut is famous for, and a damn good read on a subject that no one else ever talks about.

Bible Code III: Saving the World
by Michael Drosnin.

A quick read, Bible Code III is the third in Drosnin’s bestselling series. The first two were much more entertaining in the way the Bible Code was described, and the controversies surrounding the code coming to light. This particular edition does little to follow up on those prophesies that may or may not have come to fruition in the intervening decade since the first book was released. I read it simply because I read the first two and felt I needed a followup appointment. Would I recommend it? Only if you’re into the end-of-the-world zeitgeist that seems to be dominating the media, since the book will probably be viewed as a passing curiosity in a few years.

The Brain That Changes Itself
by Norman Doidge, M.D..

This was a fascinating read covering the issues of brain plasticity, its discovery, current research, and breakthroughs. The book is well documented with references to studies in peer reviewed journals of psychology and medicine. One important note, however, is that Dr. Doidge’s chapter on sexual addiction only references his own works. This is not to say wether I agree or disagree with the author, or whether the author is correct in his assertations, but it suggests that his views put forth in the book on that particular topic are unsubstantiated by any peer-reviewed studies. The remainder of the book is excellent and well worth a gander for anyone who has relatives suffering from brain ailments.

by Christopher Moore.

Having previously read Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (and nearly pissing my pants with laughter in the process), and fresh off reading his holiday zombie tear, The Stupidest Angel, I dove right into this off-color retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and was not disappointed. I highly recommend it, especially if you like to see the Bard’s works colorfully deconstructed.

The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls.

A journalist and news-writer for one of the cable news outlets (I believe it was CNBC), Walls’ memoir about her childhood in Arizona and West Virginia is mind-blowing from the get-go with it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire style and story. If you don’t like memoirs, you’ve never read The Glass Castle.

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens.

Hitchens makes an excellent case against religion in this to-be-classic modern manifesto of atheism. But be warned — don’t read it unless you’re prepared to set your religious beliefs aside to consider his reasoning. (Of course I’m also reminded of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where he describes the case of the philosophers who successfully argue that black is white and get themselves trampled to death at the next zebra crossing…) There’s another remarkable thing about this book — it’s publisher. Twelve is an odd little company that’s decided to only produce 12 books a year. The result of this more focused approach is a larger than normal bestseller rate than other publishing houses in the industry.

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This is the second or third time I’ve read Gatsby, and I still feel like the story’s a little too simple. It’s not a big book to begin with, clocking in at a mere 133 pages. The supporting material in the edition I read was an additional 40 pages, increasing the size of the book by almost a third. As far as the novel goes, it’s a fine piece of work, and very much a product of its time. Because of this, and a lack of context on the modern reader’s (my) part, I still don’t think I’ve connected with the story’s zeitgeist, so I’ll probably be reading it again in the future.

The Map of True Places
by Brunonia Barry.

Brunonia Barry’s second book focuses on one of my favorite cities, Salem, and a psychological mystery. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say the story has a nice clever twist to it that doesn’t cheat the mystery reader.

A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemmingway.

The copy I read was of a new edition restored from Hemmingway’s notes and edited by his grandsons. The language is as spartan as I remember his short stories being, adding to the feeling of being personally tutored by Papa Hemmingway in writing, even though there’s plenty he did that modern writing pundits disagree with, not the least of which was his heavy drinking.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these titles and authors. What did you read during 2010 that you found memorable, humorous, provocative? Please share your thoughts and opinions.

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November 25, 2010

Real World Settings, or Don’t Just Pick a Town for the Fun of It

Filed under: Book Discussion,Writing — Brian Triber @ 11:41 pm

I’ve just finished reading a collection of short stories whose author and title shall remain nameless, except to say that they were all set in one manner or another in my home state. Now, I’ve read many stories set in rural New England, some period, some modern. Some, like H. P. Lovecraft’s, evoke place in such a concrete manner that I can’t help but see myself in those places. A very fine example is Pickman’s Model, where the feel of Newubry Street and the North End of Boston is visceral to the point that I can imagine the smell of veal scalopini cooking in the background. Another good example is Brunonia Barry’s book, The Map of True Places which evokes Salem to the point that I could see myself on Derby Street near the House of the Seven Gables looking up at the widow’s walk of her fictional house, smelling the salt air.

So, it pains me to no end when I read something so uninformed in setting that I not only can’t picture the town it’s supposedly set in, but realize the story could be set anywhere in the rural northeast by simply changing the name of the town in the story.

This leads me to consider what the true purpose of setting is in story. Books on writing generally say the same things about setting, which is that it should reflect the story in some manner, and that it should also reflect the action. I don’t feel that this really goes far enough. In my view, setting should be considered carefully from two perspectives. Those are: how it serves the story; and authenticity.

Serving the Story

The setting for a scene, as well as the overarching story setting, should support the story in two ways.

First, it should reflect the mood of the main or viewpoint character in the scene. By this, I don’t necessarily mean that if the character is gloomy, they should be in a darkly lit circus tent, although if the story involves dark and lonely side show performers, that would work. Instead, make the setting gloomy to match the character’s inner turmoil: an early February evening on a wind-swept beach, with darkness closing in, not even the sound of a seagull to pierce the scattering sound of sand.

Second, the setting should match the action of the scene. If the scene is a confrontation between two characters, conflict can be heightened by placing them in an active environment. For instance, an argument resulting in a major break between characters can take place at the entrance to a department store downtown, the Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell loudly while shoppers and commuters hustle by, nearly knocking the characters over, cutting between them, and punctuating the disagreement with street noise. Similarly, if the scene has a character reflecting over another character who loves books, a quiet spot, such as the cafe at a book store, or the reference room at a library might work, with the announcement of the book store closing, or the grandfather clock in the library chiming to break the end of the scene, respectively.


If a setting is being used for a reason, it needs to be described authentically. Simply by stating that a character walks into a store can be fine if the point is to bridge two other scenes. But if something substantial happens in that store (and something substantial had better happen in that store: scenes should never be included unless it furthers the plot) the store needs to be described in a way that is authentic, especially if it is a real non-fiction environment. This doesn’t mean it has to be described physically, but it needs to at least have an emotional component authentic to the store. Things like how the florescent lights bleach the walls, the fragrance counter exudes ambergris and vanilla, the grey carpeting chafes rubber soles underfoot, are all details that can build emotions like coldness, sexuality, or irritation, respectively. But if the store doesn’t have carpets or florescent lighting, or sell perfumes, don’t include it for effect.

Similarly, towns, neighborhood, or other real locales shouldn’t be used for a setting just because it happens to be a famous spot, or a place the writer always wanted to visit. A lack of authenticity in describing a real locale rings of amateurish writing skills, and is insulting to those readers familiar with the real world place who don’t recognize it in the writing.

Which brings me full circle to the reason I wrote this in the first place. The piece I read was insulting to me because I have been in many of the places it claims to be set in, but it rang false for two different reasons. One was the lack of description of the actual setting. Because of this, I remained unanchored to the story — it felt like it could have occurred anywhere. The other was the stories’ descriptions of landmarks that didn’t exist in the setting — the story not only didn’t happen where it claimed to have happened, but most definitely occurred somewhere else.

How did this change my experience of the stories? I found the attempt at anchoring the stories to a place distracting at best. At worst, the disconnect between the described setting and the actual setting undermined the authority of the writer, and made me turn ahead to see how many pages were left in the story. In a case like this, the story probably would have been best served by using a fictional place name, or altogether leaving the name out.

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March 8, 2010

Thomas Jefferson’s Library at the Library of Congress

Filed under: Book Discussion,Writing — Brian Triber @ 10:08 am

A note of interest. The United States Library of Congress, those clever cutting-edge librarians in Washington DC, have just made available the catalog for Thomas Jefferson’s Library online. While the books themselves are rare, and not available for online browsing, they are linked to the LoC card catalog, which gives full descriptions of each. Still, it’s interesting to thumb through the categories, and titles like “Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America” by Benjamin Franklin, “The History of Chess, together with short and plain instructions any one may easily play at it without the help of a teacher” by Robert Lambe, and “Hermes or A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Universal Grammar” by James Harris, Esq., to discover the kind of works that made our third President tick.

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February 1, 2010

Review of The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

Filed under: Book Discussion — Brian Triber @ 9:54 am

First, let me make it clear that I’m a Christopher Moore fan. He won me over with Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. So, when I discovered The Stupidest Angel on the table at the front of the bookstore, I was compelled to pick it up. As most folks with favorite authors, I hoped and prayed for lightning to strike twice. With that in mind, I can see that I was at the least not disappointed, and in fact was quite entertained.

The Stupidest Angel is a quick read, solidly constructed, with fun characters. Moore has crafted a love letter to the Hollywood zombie film, that pokes fun at itself. The book is a character reunion story for Moore — reminiscent to books like Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the story features characters from Moore’s past novels coming together for a revisit.

• • • • • SPOILER ALERT • • • • •

Preparations for Christmas are underway In the tiny fictional town of Pine Cove, California. The town, as described in several passages, is as impermanent as Hollywood set dressing. (This is emphasized as the town is ravaged by storms on Christmas Eve.) Theophilus Crowe, the town constable, has sold the last of his marijuana paraphernalia to purchase a Japanese sword for his wife Molly Michon’s meditative practice. Molly, who fancies herself a mutant-slaying warrior woman (a character she had played in a series of B-movies), has given up her psych meds so that she can afford a new bhang for him, in true Gift of the Magi fashion.

Meanwhile, Dale Pearson, the stingiest man in town, is accidental murdered in Santa-garb by his ex-wife Lena with a shovel when he catches her harvesting a Christmas tree on his property. Tucker Case — a pilot with a giant talking fruit bat named Roberto and an overdeveloped sense of heroism — happens along to help Lena hide the dead Santa, and promptly falls for her.

But supernatural events are placed in motion when the Archangel Raziel grants the Christmas wish of Josh Barker, the boy who witnessed Santa’s murder, to bring Santa back to life. The result is an entire graveyard of Zombies wreaking mayhem on a church Christmas dinner.

The Stupidest Angel is a fun read. The character driven plot has a deus ex machina ending, which, because the hand of deus sets the plot in motion, works well in the context of the story. Even the zombies are atypical, although their love of brains remains the same.

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October 20, 2009

Review of And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer

Filed under: Book Discussion — Brian Triber @ 3:00 pm

I picked up a copy of And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer in the hopes that the old Douglas Adams magic would strike again. I am happy to report that it does… and it doesn’t.

The book, the sixth in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy is a fine read. Colfer does a terrific job of bottling that Adams absurdist voice. The adventure is fun, and he has the reader guessing throughout. Ford and Arthur are back again, as well as Zaphod, Triillian, and Random (Arthur  and Trillian’s goth daughter). The Vogons are also back to try to destroy Arthur yet again, but Colfer finds a very nice explanation as to why Arthur seems to attract planetary destruction wherever he goes.

Rounding out the cast of characters are Bowerick Wowbagger (a formerly minor character — an immortal who spent his time going around the galaxy insulting people in alphabetical order), Hillman Hunter (an Earth-destruction escapee from the current parallel universe who has purchased a planet for the diaspora), and Thor (yes, the Norse Thunder God.) I won’t go into details about how these all tie together, but needless to say, they make a fun jaunt of a book, with the obligatory philosophical questions of existence thrown in as the red herrings they are.

Colfer’s voice is unique, even though he does manage to capture the Adams magic. One especially notable difference is that there are some expletives-not-deleted in the text. Adams had a habit of using “zarking” and other in-context nonsense words to stand in for the characters’ cursing. With And Another Thing… some of the “zarking” is back, but some very Third Millennium English euphemisms are peppered in the dialogue. This is curious to me since Colfer’s previous work (the Artemis Fowl series) are books essentially for young adults.

Another area where Colfer drifts from the Adams format is the manner of his guide entries. They are written a bit more tongue-in cheek, and pepper the book more thoroughly than in the past. Even the format of the entries is different. This is alright in the context of this book, however, as the HHGG in And Another Thing… is actually the Second Edition, something expounded on very early. In fact, the very nature of the Second Edition plays a large part in explaining why the events in the novel transpire as they do. I won’t say any more on this, since I don’t want to spoil it for everyone.

Even though we have lost Adams, and there will be no more books attributed to him, this sixth book delivers the fun, escapism, and absurdity of the previous five. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should we. Although Colfer’s not Adams, And Another Thing… is a good read, and will resurrect some favorite characters, and impart a few chuckles along the way.

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September 1, 2009

Review of The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

Filed under: Book Discussion — Brian Triber @ 12:04 am

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way, by Bill Bryson, is one of those books that you might think would be a slog — but you’d be mistaken. It is a jaunt through the history of English as a language: accents; spelling; sentence structure; regionalisms; the essence of language evolution. Bryson guides the reader through understanding etymologies, how sound effects spelling (and vice-versa), how people’s names came to be.

So many topics are covered in this volume, it’s hard to know where the strong point of the book is. The weak point of the text is that it was published in 1990 (my copy is of the 41st printing!), and so all of the studies and reference works are a couple of decades out of date. This does not make the material presented any less valid, however.

  • Have you ever wondered why sticking your tongue out and blowing is called a raspberry? You can thank the Cockneys for that. (Hint: it rhymes with “raspberry tart.”)
  • How about why the British use the word “autumn,” while Americans use the word “fall?” (It turns out that the British used to use the word “fall,” but it fell out of fashion…)
  • Did you realize that the Bard of Stratford-Upon-Avon was personally responsible for providing the English language with countless words, including the word “countless” itself?

All these questions, and hundreds more you never thought to ask, are answered within the book’s pages.  Get hold of a copy of The Mother Tongue. Your efforts will be rewarded.

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