Language is a living thing – November literature picks
We all know that language is evolving all the time. We are concerned about changes to the English language – the French and the Germans are equally concerned about changes to theirs. But it is an irresistible force and we cannot afford to be too purist about it. In fact the inventiveness and ingenuity involved make it rather fun. Read this month’s top pick to find out more about it.
Words on the move : why English won’t – and can’t – sit still (like, literally) / John McWhorter.
“Language changes because of people, maintains McWhorter (English and comparative literature, Columbia Univ.; Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue). We understand a new word such as hangry to be a blend of “hungry” and “angry,” or hunger-induced anger. We also understand that someone using the word hangry wants to be viewed as modern or “in the know.” These transitions in language involve strong alterations in how we pronounce and construct language itself.”(Library Journal).
What I know for sure / Oprah Winfrey.
“”You lead life; it doesn’t lead you” is the motivating message behind media super star Winfrey’s life, career, and latest book-a compilation from the past 14 years of her monthly column in O, the Oprah Magazine. Divided into topics including resilience, clarity, gratitude, and awe, each essay provides a brief encouraging and thought-provoking reading moment. Winfrey writes calmly and conversationally. Among many other topics, she addresses personal strength, spirituality, clutter, and debt”. (Publisher Weekly).
Soul at the white heat : inspiration, obsession, and the writing life / Joyce Carol Oates.
“This collection of essays from the award-winning author Oates ranges from observations on the writing life to critical reviews of classic and contemporary works. Additional pieces include commentary on the film The Fighter and details of a visit to San Quentin prison. The selection of 33 previously published essays encompasses a wide range of topics with Oates’s pinpoint focus” (Library Journal).
Ode to childhood : poetry to celebrate the child / edited by Lucy Gray.
“Celebrate children! Featuring work by some of the world’s great poets, this beautifully illustrated anthology captures all the charms, beauty, and love of childhood. The selections include William Blake’s gentle “A Cradle Song,” Walt Whitman’s “There Was a Child Went Forth,” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Children’s Hour,” as well as verses by Milton, Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, and more.” (Syndetics summary).
The new torchlight list : in search of the best modern authors / Jim Flynn.“Writers’ festivals, TV book shows, radio interviews, book clubs, TED Talks—today’s novelists are a travelling roadshow. New books and their authors are thrown to the wolves, aka reviewers, to be savaged, praised to the skies, or sadly just ignored. In the midst of all this, how can the bewildered booklover decide what to read? Jim Flynn tackles the question head-on in this racy, funny, no-holds-barred book, the sequel to his bestseller The Torchlight List”.-Publisher’s note.
AND ON A LIGHTER NOTE :
Would I lie to you? presents the 100 most popular lies of all time / Peter Holmes, Ben Caudell and Saul Wordsworth with interjections from Rob Brydon, Lee Mack & David Mitchell.
“Like the deliriously funny contributions of Rob Brydon, Lee Mack and David Mitchell in the hugely successful panel game, here is a delightful collection of 100 fibs that all of us can recognise… Written in the same warm, witty and inspired tone that’s made the TV show such a hit, the book uncovers the little deceptions that strike a chord with all of us. ” (Syndetics summary)
I think I can see where you’re going wrong and other wise and witty comments from Guardian readers / edited by Marc Burrows ; with illustrations by Tom Gauld ; with a foreword by John Crace.
“The Guardian publishes over forty thousand reader comments a day below the line. This is a miscellany of the best and most baffling thoughts from their witty, well-meaning readers.” (Syndetics summary)
My grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) : old-school ways to sharpen your English / Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines.My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English
“A runaway hit and Sunday Times bestseller in 2008, My Grammar and I has continued to grow in popularity, becoming the go-to guide for grammar. Repackaged with a fresh jacket design, this much-loved gift title is now available in paperback, for new readers and fans of the series alike. My Grammar and I offers amusing examples of awful grammar, while steering you in the direction of grammatical greatness.”(Syndetics summary)
AND A GOOD ONE TO LOOK FORWARD TO :
(BESTSELLER COPY AVAILABLE NOW)
Keeping on keeping on / Alan Bennett.
“‘I seem to have banged on this year rather more than usual. I make no apology for that, nor am I nervous that it will it make a jot of difference. I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked ‘no threat’ and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear.” (Syndetics summary).