Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, ... With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory by Roy Blount Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book about words; the subtitle sums it up very nicely. Roy Blount Jr. is one of my favorite panelists on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, so I thought I'd try out one of his books. I liked this book because I really like words. Not just reading them, but saying them and learning about them. If you are not interested in reading this book, I offer three highlights:
tmesis- inserting a word into another word for an intensifying effect. Example from my life: Tyler was trying to come up with a mnemonic (which word is also treated by RBJ) for the first three letters of our new license plate, AFZ. What he came up with - Ari-frickin-zona. RBJ points out that, ironically enough, the word tmesis looks like it should have something stuck in the middle of it, an apostrophe (t'mesis) or some vowels (tamesis).
level- the most even word in the English language. Just look at it.
portmanteau- "a British term for a suitcase that opens out into two halves. Portmanteau words are inspired combinations such as guestimate from guess and estimate." Personally I find this delicious and I can see in my minds eye guess and estimate as the two sides of a suitcase getting closed up into guestimate.
The cons of this book are as follows. 1. It was kind of long for what it was, 364 pages about words. 2. RBJ is sort of a rambly and I often found it hard to follow where he was going. 3. There are all sorts of references to movies that were made 50 years before I was born and actresses and other famous people that I've never heard of, so I didn't get a lot of the jokes, I guess you could call them... puns, humor?
This is the third book I've read that was organized into 26 alphabetical chapters and it blows Reading the OED: One Man One Year 21 730 Pages out of the water, but does nothing to touch The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest To Become The Smartest Person In The World. So, if you're going to read one book like this, read that one. If you are going to read two, read that one, and then this one.
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