2007 Holiday Gift List for the Logophile in Your Life

Here are some ideas for books that word lovers will appreciate. Prices are list prices; you can find most of these at a discount.

Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, edited by Jeff Prucher. An excellent resource for words from one of the most inventive of literary genres. $29.95.

Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, by Seth Lerer. Stanford English professor Seth Lerer has produced this excellent history of English. Each chapter covers a different topic in this history. Essentially, it’s a collection of chronologically organized essays on the development of our language. Lerer puts the changes in context, not just giving a recitation of what happened, but showing why it was important through literary examples. Engaging and never dull. $24.95.

Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, by Kitty Burns Florey. Admit it. Secretly you just loved those 8th grade exercises where you deconstructed sentences. Sure, all your friends complained and you probably did to, but that’s only because you were too afraid to buck peer pressure. And if you’re in the younger crowd that never had sentence diagramming in class, it’s an extremely valuable tool for producing good writing. A funny, charming take on the subject that is usually presented in dreadfully dull fashion. $19.95.

Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer’s Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology, and Trivia, by Charles Hodgson. Podcaster Hodgson (http://www.podictionary.com) has compiled this dictionary of anatomical terms. $14.95.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Okay, it’s a textbook, but that doesn’t make it great. This standard anthology of English literature comes in two volumes. Volume 1 covers the period from Anglo-Saxon England through the 18th century. Volume 2 covers the Romantic period through the 20th century. Each volume is $60.

And of course, if you haven’t already bought copies for all your friends, there’s…

Word Myths, by David Wilton. Word Myths debunks the most persistently wrong word histories, and gives, to the best of our actual knowledge, the real stories behind these perennially mis-etymologized words. In addition, it explains why these wrong stories are created, disseminated, and persist, even after being corrected time and time again. $23.95.

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