Anu Garg, the world's favorite wordsmith, has just published his second book, called "Another Word A Day." It's the funniest book I've read this year - a laugh on every page. It includes dozens of amusing anecdotes and quips from some of the 600,000 wordlovers who receive his free newsletter A Word A Day. It would make an ideal Christmas present for readers of all ages.
_Another Word a Day: An All-New Romp through Some of the Most Intriguing Words in English_ is a linguaphile's delight! Written by Anu Garg, author of _A Word a Day_ (the newsletter and the book), _Another Word a Day_ "celebrates the English language in all its quirkiness, grandeur, fun, and delight."
Although the reader is likely to encounter some unfamiliar words in this collection (nyctalopia, dasypygal, and zugzwang, for example), all of the words are in use, and most are illustrated by examples from current sources.
_Another Word a Day_ is organized into 52 chapters, each with a theme (for a few chapters the reader is invited to discover the theme). Examples of chapters are "Words Formed Erroneously," "Words about Words," and "Numeric Terms." Each chapter includes five entry words, and each entry includes pronunciation, plural (if applicable), part of speech, definition, etymology, and use in context from a published source.
Nearly every chapter includes reader feedback, presumably collected from Garg's online community -- some 600,000 strong. For example, seventeen theories of the origin of the term "eighty-six" are presented, even though no one theory can be proven.
Several chapters offer puzzles or quizzes (answers are provided at the end of the book), and an index of entry words is helpful. Pithy quotations appear at the bottom of most pages -- a bit of lagniappe for the reader.
Sometimes a person with a fresh perspective can help us appreciate things around us that we take for granted. Such is the case with Anu Garg, who was born and raised in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in India, and did not begin to learn English until he was in the sixth grade. Garg's fascination with words and his mastery of English are apparent, however. With clarity and conciseness he leads us on mini-explorations of our language. The enthusiasm of this most worthy "tour guide" is contagious.
"Another Word A Day: An All-New Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English" has 18 words in its title. None of them are as amazing as the ones listed inside.
Author Anu Garg may have memorized that most wonderful dictionary of dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the OED is a massive collection of books that requires a magnifying glass and an entire wall in a home office to store it. Garg's book is far less intimidating to the verbal neophyte, and easier to toss into a backpack.
Each day, you could read a new word to add to your mighty vocabularic coffers, ready to swing out in conversation. Garg designed this thing topically, with each chapter representing a week, with five words per chapter. Garg, like myself, believes that even great minds need to take the weekend off.
He provides some background for each word, with some popular culture references. This helps see it all in context.
What kinds of things will you learn? Besides a few French and Arabic words that found their way into English, you have some 50 other topics, from "What's in a Name?" to "What does that Company Name Mean?" No, Enron is not listed with a corresponding definition, but lucent, cingular, prudential, suppurate and vanguard are defined.
The words are far more user-friendly than to be considered "most unusual" as described in the title. Most of these are words with some degree of common usage. Well-read people will have seen most of them before, although there were a few I thought might only be used in Scrabble (cadogan, imprest, assize, ambsace). This might be only indicative of my shortfalls.
Where the book misses its mark is that there is no enough meat for each word. While the brevity of definitions the words keeps the reader from confusion, it would be nice to have more quotes using the word. If I would read a word a day, I would like to have read enough, with correlating quotes and history, to use the word adeptly.
Overall, I enjoyed "Another Word A Day." It reads easily; I read more than a word a day, and finished the book in one morning. Expect to smile at a few unexpected definitions, learn a few words, and know more about words we use daily.
I fully recommend "Another Word A Day" by Anu Garg.
In "Another Word a Day" (is anyone else irritated that we cannot use italics for titles on reviews here?) Anu Garg devotes 52 specialized chapters to sets of five words each. He focuses on a common theme for each chapter, such as Numeric Terms, Fishy Words, or Words about Books and Writing (and having deployed the quotations for the book title, I must leave the chapter titles unadorned).
I received a copy of this book back in the winter and promptly lost it when it slid behind a rather ugsome desk I was in the process of tidying. Now that I have ousted the book, I am enjoying it. More to the point, I'm learning a great deal about a diverse, interesting collection of words. Mr. Garg succeeds in large measure by making the process entertaining. I suspect that the most ardent agelast would at least chuckle to himself at some point and that even erudite readers will run across words they had either forgotten about or hitherto not encountered.
Mr. Garg offers definitions parsed out by parts of speech, delves into a bit of etymology without lapsing into morbidly detailed fact-finding, and includes examples of how each word has been used in the current lexicon. He augments the text with an abundance of quotes and pithy sidebars.
In short, a book that provides nutriment in spades for those folks, myself included, who are interested in words and their usage and history.
It's hard to write recommendations/reviews of grammar books. I mean, pretty much it can be summed up with, "Are you a word geek? If you are, you'll get something out of this. If you're not, you'll be bored to sobs." But I think even people who aren't especially enthusiastic about linguistics and the like might end up enjoying this one. Like the paragraph from the back of the book says, the definitions and etymologies are concise but also very informative. Sometmes when I read books similar to this one, I start to lose patience and skim a bit, but that wasn't the case here at all. Most pages have an interesting-but-unrelated-to-anything-in- particular quote at the bottom (the first page of each chapter doesn't) and it's full of questions, comments and stories behind words that wordsmith.org readers have contributed. Seriously, at one point there's even a short Sherlock Holmes fanfic. No kidding.