The Etymologican by Mark Forsyth

the etymologicanI’ve been in a bit of a book slump recently, and, for the very first time, it was a non-fiction book that has plunged me back into voracious reading.

Based on the blog Inky Fool and described as ‘a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language’, this book is a fascinating and funny mix of language and history. Each short section on a particular turn of phrase or word leads into the next phrase/word, usually in a way you couldn’t have guessed at the beginning of the section.  It kind of succinctly rambles in a lovely way. A bit like QI.

I think sometimes people get put off reading etymology-type books because they can feel a bit dry and dense – like trying to read the dictionary for fun. But this book is easy to read, interesting and funny. You come away with a lot of weird facts (if someone ever describes you as ‘feisty’, etymologically speaking, they’re calling you ‘farty’) and tenuous links (like how the game of ‘pool’ is related to gambling with chickens in medieval France).

One of my favourite reads this year.

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