Book Review: Word by Word

I get it, I have an odd reading penchant. Word by Word, the Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper is an excellent example of my need to know something about everything. Oooh a book on lexicography, I know jack all about lexicography, I should read that.

Basic Summary(Courtesy of Amazon):

Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises—for example, the fact that “OMG” was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper’s debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.

My thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read a book that had me laughing so hard I cried, gasping for breath. I’m being totally serious here. This book was hysterical.

It’s a lot of detail about words and how they come to be defined. Some of that is more interesting than other parts, but you can skim pretty easy over the too much sections and still laugh your a** off in the funny parts, which are numerous.

This is a great book if you like to learn about new things in a way that won’t make you want to gouge your own eyes out.

Side note to help the lexicographers out: Dictionaries to do not make words, they are not the arbiters of how words should be used, they record how a word is already used in written context. As Stamper points out, removing or adding a word does not actually change society. If it did, don’t you think they would have removed the word murder years ago?

Research

And a choir sings because research is my jam. I cannot go anywhere without researching something. Just got back from Hawaii, where did I go on vaca? The US Army at Hawaii historical museum. LOL

What did I read while on vacation?

Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lincoln and the Abolitionists.

What souvenir did I buy myself? LOL. A Documentary on Pearl Harbor.

I actually have webpages for each of my books that list the research I did for them.

I know so many people who say I over research. Readers don’t care. They’re probably right…

It’s almost a compulsion for me. All I know is if I sit down to write a scene in which my heroine pulls a gun, it HAS to be the gun she would legit pull in the real world. Otherwise, I can’t write the scene.

I think the craziest I’ve ever been is when I wanted to have a baptismal party for a baby in a house in London in an expensive area. I spent hours pulling blue prints, til I found a house with the design that suited me, so I could specify the address. That’s it. An address. But I guarantee if you pull the prints for the address I give, you’ll see it’s laid out as I describe in the chapter. LOL.

 

#AuthorLifeMonth

Fave Writing Spot

I have an ideal for this…don’t we all.

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The reality is much more prosaic. I write anywhere I can. Most of my first two books were written in the family room at co-op while my child took classes, in the noisy gym while my child took parkour or karate, and on Wednesday night write ins.

 

#AuthorLifeMonth

It’s Alive

and dead all at the same time. LOL

The Body in the Pool, Book One of the Dismember Killer Series is live on Amazon.

What’s it about you ask? Haven’t you been reading my blog for the last year? Geez, ok….

Seattle has seen its fair share of serial killers over the years. Now a new demographic needs to watch their backs…successful white males are losing their lives in shockingly public venues.

Detective Spencer Thomas and his task force are 12 murders deep and no closer to finding the Dismember Killer than they were when the first body appeared. The killer is taunting them without leaving any useful evidence.

With a pregnant wife on bed rest, brass that strips his resources, and the FBI breathing down his neck…the last thing Spence needs is a dead body at an exclusive boarding school, floating in their pool no less…

#AuthorLifeMonth – My Publishing Team.

Greatest Writing Strength

I give great dialogue and I have an excellent bead on human psychology.

I give credit for these things to reading, excessively, many genres, much non fiction. My entire life.

Minoring in film didn’t hurt my dialogue skills.

I majored in history in case you were wondering. That’s more on the psychology side. LOL.

#AuthorLifeMonth

Non Bookish Hobby

#AuthorLifeMonth continues with a question about my hobbies. I’ve talked about this before. I crochet, I paint by numbers, I yoga.

I also travel. As much as I can. And right now I am in Hawaii, showing some friends who’ve never been to the touristy sites. No judgement, that’s what they asked for.

And what do I care? It’s warm and sunny here. After 10 days of being snowed in, I am all for warm and sunny.