Word by Word by Kory Stamper
Best for: People who love words. So, you know, ALL OF US.
In a nutshell: Mirriam-Webster Dictionary lexicographer Kory Stamper shares a behind the scenes look at what goes into that tome so many of us take for granted, the dictionary.
“The fact is that many the things that are presented to us as rules are really just the of-the-moment preferences of people who have had the opportunity to get their opinions published and whose opinions end up being reinforced and repeated down the ages as Truth.”
Why I chose it:
I love words!
I’ve been in a bit of a reading black hole the past month. After powering through all three of the Crazy Rich Asians books in like a week, I posted just one (ONE!) review in May. I have maybe three or four books that I’m a chapter or two into, but I just couldn’t get into any. So I picked this one up because it seemed fun, and thank Maude, I’m cured. This was a delight to read, and has kick-started my consumption of the written word.
Being a dictionary editor sounds partially amazing and partially horrible. No one talks except outside the office on lunch breaks (which, most days, is my dream, but still, I like to at least have the option), and there’s a lot of time spent reading. Unfortunately, the reading isn’t for pleasure so much as it is to look for interesting examples of words being used, to refer back to at a later time when revising the dictionary.
I’ve never put a whole lot of thought into dictionaries; I don’t own a physical one anymore, but I think I might pick one up after reading this. Ms. Stamper has a great grasp of language (as you’d hope), and manages to make what could be extraordinarily dry subject matter come alive with interesting stories, clever anecdotes, and vivid imagery. Its a great little book that I think my fellow Cannonballers would enjoy.