One of the English language's most skilled and beloved writers guides us all towards precise, mistake-free usage. In the middle 1980s Bill Bryson was a copy editor for the London Times with the brash idea that he could fill a hole in the British book market for a concise, accessible, handy guide to proper usage. A complete unknown, he nonetheless sold Penguin Books on the idea, and the result was The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words, which sold decently enough on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, fifteen years later, Bill Bryson has become, well, Bill Bryson -- and his terrifically useful little book has been revised, updated and Americanized to become Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words. Precise, prescriptive, sometimes (like its author) amusingly prickly, this book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about our language not to maul or misuse or distort it. Move over, Strunk and White.
Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason
Author: Nancy Pearl
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Category: Literary Criticism
The response to Nancy Pearl’s surprise bestseller Book Lust was astounding: the Seattle librarian even became the model for the now-famous Librarian Action Figure. Readers everywhere welcomed Pearl’s encyclopedic but discerning filter on books worth reading, and her Rule of 50 (give a book 50 pages before deciding whether to continue; but readers over 50 must read the same number of pages as their age) became a standard MO.
One of the English language’s most skilled and beloved writers guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage. As usual Bill Bryson says it best: “English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where ‘cleave’ can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word ‘set’ has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; [and] where ‘colonel,’ ‘freight,’ ‘once,’ and ‘ache’ are strikingly at odds with their spellings.” As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bill Bryson felt keenly the lack of an easy-to-consult, authoritative guide to avoiding the traps and snares in English, and so he brashly suggested to a publisher that he should write one. Surprisingly, the proposition was accepted, and for “a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth,” he proceeded to write that book–his first, inaugurating his stellar career. Now, a decade and a half later, revised, updated, and thoroughly (but not overly) Americanized, it has become Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, more than ever an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. With some one thousand entries, from “a, an” to “zoom,” that feature real-world examples of questionable usage from an international array of publications, and with a helpful glossary and guide to pronunciation, this precise, prescriptive, and–because it is written by Bill Bryson–often witty book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about the language not to maul or misuse or distort it. From the Hardcover edition.
What is the difference between cant and jargon, or assume and presume? What is a fandango? How do you spell supersede? Is it hippy or hippie? These questions really matter to Bill Bryson, as they do to anyone who cares about the English language. Originally published as The Penguin Dictionary for Writers and Editors, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors has now been completely revised and updated for the twenty-first century by Bill Bryson himself. Here is a very personal selection of spellings and usages, covering such head-scratchers as capitalization, plurals, abbreviations and foreign names and phrases. Bryson also gives us the difference between British and American usages, and miscellaneous pieces of essential information you never knew you needed, like the names of all the Oxford colleges, or the correct spelling of Brobdingnag. An indispensable companion to all those who write, work with the written word, or who just enjoy getting things right, it gives rulings that are both authoritative and commonsense, all in Bryson's own inimitably goodhumoured way.
Includes, beginning Sept. 15, 1954 (and on the 15th of each month, Sept.-May) a special section: School library journal, ISSN 0000-0035, (called Junior libraries, 1954-May 1961). Also issued separately.