Every January, thousands of people make a resolution to read more during the following year. The most voracious readers need no such artificial motivation; to them, resolving to read more is akin to resolving to breathe more. But both types of people are faced throughout the year with the same question: What do I read next?
Whether you need a resolution or not, here are five books to add to your “to read” list during the first half of 2017:
Lexikhouse, December 16, 2016 (link)
Here’s one you can get started on right away. Lexicographer David K. Barnhart has compiled a glossary of modern terms — many of which are still too young to have found their way into your average dictionary — that have entered the English language largely as a result of political movements and campaigns of the last five years. Although the focus is primarily on American English additions like alt-right, election stress disorder, and Twitter diplomacy, Barnhart also touches on international neologisms, such as Brexit, UKIP, and Arab Spring. The book also includes a plethora of quotations to help give understanding to the meanings, plus usage notes, etymologies, and, where needed, pronunciation guides.
Barnhart calls his book “Never-finished” because he plans to update and revise it in the coming years as the political lexicon evolves.
HarperCollins, March 14 (link)
In this entertaining romp through the history of books and printing, J.P. Romney and Rebecca Romney, the rare book specialist from the show Pawn Stars, introduce some of the more curious episodes in the history of print that have had profound effects on our world. For example, did you know that the Gutenberg Bible, widely considered the first printed book in the Western world, didn’t have Johannes Gutenberg’s name on it anywhere?
Penguin Random House, March 14 (link)
Kory Stamper, our favorite purple-haired editor from Merriam-Webster, reveals the intricacy, agony, and obsession that goes into creating a book that is largely taken for granted: the dictionary. Inside, she’ll explain why small words are the hardest to define, why it can take so long (sometimes nine months!) to define a single word, and how our prejudices and preferences about words can have real-world implications.
This is one of the most anticipated books here at Copyediting.com. If it’s written with the clarity and
snark wit that we have come to expect from Kory Stamper (just check out her blog), this book is bound to be both fun and educational.
ECW, April (link)
In another exploration of the history of print, Merilyn Simonds looks at both the past and the future of the printed word. This book isn’t just about printing; it’s about reading and about writing, too — how we do it, why we do it, and what the future of the publishing business might look like.
Copy editors might do well to ponder Simonds’s ideas in order to plot a professional course through the publishing age of tomorrow. Or just enjoy an enlightening book about this business we love.
Oxford University Press, June 5 (link)
Grammar is a much-maligned subject. Considered difficult, dry, and intimidating, it has practically disappeared from school curricula.
But grammar expert David Crystal doesn’t believe grammar deserves such a bad reputation or dismal future. In Making Sense, which is listed as “a light read” on the book’s web page, he hopes to demystify English grammar, exploring the stages by which children acquire grammar, the (often failed) ways in which grammar has been taught, and the true necessity of grammar for clear and effective speech and writing.
This could become your go-to book for finding ways to defend your edits to difficult clients in ways they will understand.