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Word on the Street: Summer Reading Recommendations

A person holding an open book - only see the hands not the whole body of the person.

Here on the Liv North Scottsdale Blog we love to explore a variety of topics each month, and this month we’re doing just that — a little bit of everything to challenge, teach, and enlighten members of our apartment community here in Arizona. This week, we are covering a topic we think is rather thought-provoking: suggestions for books about words. The history of the English language is fascinating, and as any true logophile (lover of words) knows, finding out what words mean is a good use of time that can give you insight into the world around you. For a more in-depth look at words and language, we’ve put together a list of books on the subject you may want to check out.

Recommendations for Books About Words and Language

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson 

Bill Bryson explores the quirks of our ragtag language with humor, wit, and, of course, wordplay. It’s the sort of history of the English language where you'll find yourself laughing out loud over paragraphs about the schwa vowel sound. Bryson takes his readers on an upbeat tour of linguistic history, from the descent of the larynx to the invention of slang, highlighting the most absurd and obscure tidbits English has to offer.

Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles Earle Funk 

The root of the word school means leisure. The words hearse and rehearse come from the same root, and dunce is named after a great philosopher. Thereby Hangs a Tale: Stories of Curious Word Origins will make you see everyday words in an entirely new, much weirder light. You can read it straight through and fill up on all the strange little word histories, or savor it piece by piece, but either way you'll pick up some truly killer pieces of word trivia.

The Word Circus by Richard Lederer, illustrated by Dave Morice 

If you miss the word activity books of your childhood, this one’s for you. The Word Circus is full of anagrams, rhymes, palindromes, drawings of kangaroos — really, what more could you want out of a word book? There’s a whole section of word games and a plethora of puns. If you need a break from etymological history, this is the perfect dose of lexical nonsense.

Now that you have some suggestions, order them from Amazon through the links above, head out to your local branch of the Scottsdale Public Library and check them out, log on to Overdrive or Audible, or stop by your favorite local bookstore to buy a copy. Then head back to your apartment, curl up with a book, and enjoy expanding your vocabulary.