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Books we love

Summer Reading: Attention Word Lovers

We called up one of our favorite word lovers to ask her for books picks about a subject near and dear to her heart. Martha Barnette, author and host of public radio's A Way With Words, graciously sent us these terrific recommendations:

Idiom's Delight by Sue Brock. In English, "you stand on your own two feet," but in Spanish, you "fly with your own wings." A beautifully illustrated volume of idioms in Spanish, Italian, French, and Latin that I've given as a gift again and again.

Letter Perfect by David Sacks. Sacks is obsessed -- and I do mean obsessed -- with alphabet and how it came to be. You'll learn more than you ever thought possible about the history of every single letter. His passion's infectious.

How We Talk by Allan Metcalf. An appealing introduction to the varieties of regional American English. Find out to watch out for chizzywinks, and where you can eat a spuckie.

Words Words Words by David Crystal. In one of his latest books the dizzyingly prolific Crystal offers a "cross-section of my lexical autobiography." In other words, it's a breezy-yet-chewy introduction to the delights of language. Another great gift book.

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France by Kristin Espinasse. Brief, charming essays about life in a medieval French village, based on the American ex-pat's popular French-word-a-day email. Written in English, with the occasional French term tossed in (and defined at the end), the essays are enjoyable way to pick up a little French, and recognize connections between that language and our own.


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