Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’

Integument
Casuistry
Disquisition
Jackstraw

Books. You never really know what you’re getting until you crack the boards and step inside. Cover art, blurbs, reviews, recommendations, they paint a picture, but as with all art, though the rest of world might love it, for you can be a big fat nothing-burger. Or worse. Will it be a breezy fun-filled page-turner? A deeply engrossing dive into the belly of the dark societal beast? A slog through a mire of typos, anachronisms, and cliches stitched together with wooden dialog spoken by lackluster characters? It’s hard to tell at the outset.

Spillikin
Tergiversate
Congeries
Houseled

A good book isn’t always an easy read. Some very good books take a lot of work to get through. Complicated, intertwined timelines can make your brain hurt. You can get lost amid involuted syntax, tripped up by participial phrases and subordinate adjectival clauses. Or you can be barraged by salvos of words unknown or unfamiliar to you. This doesn’t make the book unreadable; it just makes it a challenge. 

Bathos
Panopticon
Nugatory
Irenic

I don’t mind if a good book is a challenge. I don’t mind having to work for it. It’s part of the journey, no? Where a single “there”/”their” mix-up can be the last straw on a book already fraught with issues, I’ll work hard with another book if the prose is exceptional, the story compelling, the characters so interesting that they draw me in and hold me down as I fight my way through the convoluted plot.

I am halfway through a book right now, and have had to look up a ton of words, more than in any other book I’ve ever read. These words were either wholly unknown to me (spillikin?) or ones that I was only “pretty sure” I knew (integument, disquisition). In a lesser book, I would likely be put off by these words as being out of character or too highfalutin for the subject, but in this book these words are a perfect oriel from which I can peer into the minds of the characters (a pair of Victorian poets). And, hey, new words.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know: spillikin and jackstraw? Synonyms. 

k

Read Full Post »

Stack of BooksAutumn arrived in Seattle a few days ahead of schedule. This weekend, a low-pressure system cruised in with gusts that rattled the windows and whistled through the trees. Standing at the window, watching the maples dance, I thought to myself, “It’s a blustery day.”

Blustery.

The word brought back a memory of the first time I encountered it. I was a child, reading a Winnie-the-Pooh book — The House at Pooh Corner — when I came across the word describing a very fine “Winds-day.” It was the perfect word, filled with plosives and sibilants, and from that moment on, Milne’s word was my word, too.

Now, fifty years later, standing at my window, I remembered that word, that book, and that moment, and it all got me wondering: Decades of reading has increased my vocabulary, no doubt about it, but are there other words I got from specific books?

I pondered it for a few days and found other words I got from specific books. (more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: