What do wordsmiths read? Here is a trio of recommendations from Grant Barrett, creator of the Double-Tongued Word Wrester's Dictionary and a lexicographer at the Oxford University Press:
Sidney Landau, Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography, second edition. There are several chapters of technical stuff a non-expert probably will just want to skim, but this is not an impersonal book. Landau is highly respected as a lexicographer of quality, so when he uses the word "I" in sentence in this book, it's a passage to pay close attention to.
Betsy Bird, the remarkable and passionate children's librarian we spoke to this week about great children's books, tracks the latest kid's literature at her job, and on her blog, the well-thumbed (virtually speaking) A Fuse #8 Production. Here are fifty or so of her favorites published this year. She reads them all, so she knows!
Veneta Masson, the nurse and poet we interviewed recently for our "Word Count" section, recommends these anthologies to get a taste of nurses' writing:
Between the Heartbeatsand Intensive Care, both edited by Cortney Davis and Judy Schaefer, were published by U. of Iowa Press. They include nurses' stories in both poetry and prose.
The Poetry of Nursing was edited by Judy Schaefer and consists of poems and commentary by fifteen nurse poets.
This week's "Word Count" features Sandra Dolores Becker, a Visual Thesaurus subscriber and writer from Brazil who works in both English and Portuguese. We asked Sandra to tell us about books that help her write better in English:
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus. I always have this one on hand. It's very practical, with simple rules and easy examples.
Felicity: Summer by Janet Tashijian . Pure American English and delightful reading! It's perfect for reading everyday, normal, spoken English.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss's books are a must for anyone wanting to learn English -- even adults! There are no words to describe them. You learn, you play, you see, you enjoy.
It goes by any number of rubrics: Science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy. Whatever you call it, a software developer here at the VT named Robert W. is a huge fan. When he's not busy fine-tuning our visualization technology, he's nose-deep in the genre. We asked Robert to tell us about his favorites:
The Uplift War by David Brin. What constitutes sentience? At what point does a species deserve rights?
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Honor, betrayal, sibling rivalry, Machiavellian machinations, lust, and completely unpredictable plot changes. Who could ask for anything more?
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. What would time travel do to the world of academics? Well, it would let historians work more like anthropologists.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A hilarious, heart-warming, enjoyable look at the apocalypse. No, really.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. A glimpse of the near future. Funny, entertaining, and disturbingly plausible.
The Academy of Achievement, an organization that brings students face-to-face with the "greatest thinkers and achievers of our age," compiled a list of books that have impacted the lives of remarkable people. Read the entire list here. A few examples:
James Earl Jones recommends The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Jonas Salk, MD, recommends The Island Within by Ludwig Lewisohn
Author Peggy Noonan recommends The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Explorer Sylvia Earle recommends Galapagos: World's End by William Beebe
We asked Katie Raynolds, the amazing high school student we interviewed about words, language and books, to recommend her favorite reads to fellow students. Here's what she wrote:
I love anything by Ray Bradbury, like Fahrenheit 451, and especially his short story anthology The Illustrated Man. I also recommend Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, which has a lot adventure and not too many crazy words that others may struggle with. I admit, many of the books I read would not suit boy readers, but they're still good! An example would be Stargirl. This book may be better for girls, and it's a little better suited for girls that are younger than I, but it changed my life. Holes is also a really, really good book -- the author ties every detail to another plot point, and it's incredibly smart. And of course, there are the popular Harry Potter books and the Lord of the Rings series, which are an acquired taste but are, in the end, a joy to read. I know that some of these titles are obvious suggestions, but they're great, great books!!!