Now that I have a little free time again, I’ve rediscovered goodreads. I really should just say discovered because even though I signed up a couple years ago, I never really explored the site. It seems lite a really nice intuitive focused social site. Fun stuff and it will a place to help me at least collect my thoughts after finishing each book. Uncle John’s Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader by Bathroom Readers’ Institute
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wonder if this should be a 5 star because it has been in the bathroom for almost 5 years now. It still manages to entertain with quick hits as always before and I still seem to find things I hadn’t read though I must have gone through it several times by now (albeit not systematically). Fun stuff and full of weird entertaining errata about life.
There was a guy who triple posted a highly negative review on a book I liked quite a bit. So I ended up writing a counter review. Its a fun book and it seems that there may be mistakes in it, but in general its a fun read. A good start maybe to further study if you’re really interested in the subject – or not bad as a survey just for the heck of it.
This book is an incredibly fun read and does not take itself too seriously. If you want to read a book about the English language, and you don’t want one that is too scholarly, this is it.
There are plenty of really scholarly works out there – and many of them are pretty much unreadable. And in fact, one of the things this book points out repeatedly is how various theories come in and out of fashion. In linguistics, it seems a lot of the oral history of our words are based off of ideas that are kinda hard to prove. I have no doubt there are mistakes in the book some of which the angry reviewer has noted, but I believe that Mr. Bryson has most likely tried to be as accurate at possible.
Instead of trying to write a definitive work, I think Bill Bryson set out to write a mirror for us to have a laugh at ourselves and our wonderful language. He’s not a linguist – but he’s not a hack either. He is exploring this language and seeing how it stands in this world – among other languages and in its point in history (1989) relative to its lengthy past. And his exploration is extremely well written even if maybe there are mistakes here and there.
I find the book a great read. If you’re gonna write a dissertation or looking for a definitive work (or a book that takes Esperanto seriously), this isn’t it. But if you want to have an enjoyable read chuckling at our idiosyncrasies and learning a little bit more at how we got here, I think you’ll have a great time!