Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Book 'em!

More lovely books arrive today. Look, some are for work, and I've had vouchers for my birthday, so please don't mention the book diet. I'll get back on it tomorrow.


A lovely old (1911, I think) edition of Wild Wales, by George Borrow - a seminal work of colonial romanticism.

Two Oxford reference books: the Dictionary of Word Origins (did you know that blancmange used to be a dish of white meat or fish in cream sauce?) and the Dictionary of English Idioms. I love books like this. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (previous edition online here) is the daddy of them all: quirky, not always reliable but always entertaining. The Oxford doesn't give derivation very often, which is a shame, but it's pretty good, particularly for English learners, as the language is so idiomatic.

Volumes 1 and 2 of Jason Lutes' Berlin. It's a graphic novel which tracks the rise of Nazism through the prism of Jewish and Communist young people in 1920s and 1930s. Good drawing, lovely writing.

G. A. Cohen's Why Not Socialism? As you can probably guess, I see no reason why not anyway, but it's a lovely little volume.

Finally, the latest in the excellent Writers of Wales series of short biographies - this time it's Geoffrey of Monmouth, a Norman-Welshman who helped oppress the Welsh while ensuring that their culture gained the attention of the French overlords: he was the first to mention Arthur outside Welsh-language poetry. He was an early historian, but also a shameless liar. Jankulak's done an excellent job.

Still some credit left: what books do you recommend? Everyone's reading Wolf Hall, so I should give that a go, but what else?

There's an excellent online etymology dictionary here, though it didn't recognise 'gitwizard' or 'snazzwank', probably because Neal made them up. Hours of fun though.

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