Review: The Horologicon – Mark Forsyth

Christmas Gifts for Readers No. 4

I’m writing a set of five articles covering items which would in my view make great presents for people who love books and reading. I have no financial or commercial interest in any of these products and I’m only writing about them because […]

Review: The Etymologicon – Mark Forsyth

Like many people I am mildly interested in where words come from and I’ve occasionally read and reviewed books like David Crystal’s By Hook or By Crook which looks at where English place-names come from. Unless books like these are skilfully written they can quickly become tedious and its usually best to get this sort […]

Review: The Possessed – Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman’s book of essays, The Possessed, loosely based on the joys of reading classic Russian literature, turns out to be a bit of a hodge-podge of travel-writing, literary criticism and a personal reading history, enlivened by a butterfly mind that flutters from one subject to another without really landing for too long on any […]

Review: The Prodigal Tongue – Mark Abley

In The Prodigal Tongue, Mark Abley has provided us with a tour of the state of the English language in Britain and around the world. His main conclusion seems to be that although “English” is the new Esperanto, a world language spoken by people on every continent, its not so much standard English that predominates […]

Review: By Hook or by Crook – David Crystal

With By Hook or By Crook David Crystal has provided us with an entertaining travelogue of selected part of (mostly) England and Wales. The reader accompanies Crystal as he meanders around various small towns (Haye on Wye, Stratford on Avon etc), finding many interesting places along the way and recounting many tales and anecdotes about […]