Hello and happy holidays to all! Everyone and their cat is doing best-of-2007 lists. We thought we would do something a little different and ask you what was your personal favorite of the books you read in 2007. It could have been written at any time, but read or re-read by you in 2007. Here’s to reading a multitude of amazing books and learning many new words in 2008!Review Software Purchase - Store Download Software - Products Software Cheap - Cheapest Discount Here - Brands Software Discount - Software Review Brands
Archive for the ‘Literal’ Category
As technophiles, we here at Vocab Vitamins love the fact that so much data is now at the tip of our busy, fast-typing fingers. But as enthusiastic as we are about the web and its wonders, we still firmly believe in the magic of books. Yes, even English Reference books. I am specifying ‘English’ here lest these reference books get lumped together with the tragedy of the long dead and buried encyclopedia (26 volumes, outdated as soon as they are printed for heavens sake!!). Our language is a living creature that grows and morphs measurably on an annual basis, but it is still a entity that is well served by a printed volume.
Although we do mostly use online resources, the Vocab Vitamins office holds several delicious tomes: the Webster’s Unabridged, the American Heritage, the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology and the recently added Rodale Synonym Finder. The Webster’s measures four inches thick, but our new Synomym Finder hardcover buddy is much more easily wielded. And wield it we will.
In comparison with Thesaurus.com and Bartelby.com, this is a slower, less comprehensive method of finding a suitable synonym. Also, this nifty book leans heavily on your vocabulary knowledge, as no actual definitions are given, just a list of synonyms. We all know that no two words in the English language mean exactly the same thing. There is always a shade of variance, a nuance that justifies the existence of both. So, you could be searching for a word substitute, find one that looks like a great possibility and still have to use a dictionary to look up the exact meaning and usage.
However, there has been one overarching benefit with the Synonym finder vs. online tools: When using this book, I have felt closer to the words. They have entered my consciousness, not as concepts of language, but as tangibles. What can I say? When I have to brainstorm, organize, or plan, I am useless without paper. I just think differently with a pen and a blank sheet of paper in front of me and no computer program can replicate that experience for me.
And now I am off to read my synonym dictionary!
So you don’t feel left out of the fun, here is an excerpt:
ploy n. stratagem, maneuver, gambit, move; ruse,
wile artifice, dodge, artful dodge, Sl. gimmick; sub-
terfuge, design, scheme, craft, game; trick, decoy,
red herring, feint, blind.
(Today’s post comes from a guest author, and a dear friend.)
It is with great fear and trepidation that I invite you to my 30th Birthday Debacle.Â We will be holding a mourning BBQ on the evening leading up to my inauguration into the ranks of those faded stars and regretful souls that call themselves the middle-aged.Â
We will sacrifice the flesh of young, healthy fish and fowl so that we might understand the inevitability of our own deaths.Â
We will listen to music more suitable for people half our age.Â We will dance as if we weren’t teetering towards convalescence.
We will drink as if our bodies are still capable of processing these toxins and mellifluents* as they were in our prime.Â
We will sing dirges to forgotten dreams, wasted degrees and misplaced passions.Â We may watch movies with Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp from when they weren’t the leathery, pock-marked husks they have become.
Since the calamity of my XXXth birthday isn’t actually until Sunday, you will be expected to sit or stand at a respectful distance over the course of the XXX-eve BBQ and try not to mention arthritis or impotence in my presence.Â
When the grandfather clock I have been hiding under my bed strikes midnight, all will assemble in the viewing chamber and silently observe as my failing body is draped in fine linens, and a team of young street urchins will ceremonially taunt me and pull at my beard before feeding my withering body into the cremation chamber.
Then I will pop out of a closet in a leopard-print leotard and all will dutifully cheer and we will rock the warehouse until the cops come shut us down.
*mellifluents: this newly minted masterpiece is based on the adjective ‘mellifluent’: flowing sweetly or smoothly
I prefer to read classics over the latest bestsellers, so I don’t rush to Amazon or my local bookseller for many just-released books. Even if a new book captures my attention, I take my sweet time to acquire it and read it through. This latest and last Harry Potter book has been different. And not by choice.
I have loved the series ever since I first laid eyes on it in 1999. It reminded me of Tolkien’s fantasy world with a lighter voice and more female participation. I read every subsequent book as it came out — but when it was convenient for me. When the book fit in my schedule, I collected it from a book purveyor and gobbled it up.
As those of you who have read Harry Potter know very well, the books are a non-stop reading experience. All non-critical-to-your-survival activities fall away as you blow through 500-700 pages of Potter.
Now, as you may also know, I am now a mother. My daughter is 10 months old. I have many, many todo items in my day that keep our lives whirring on as smoothly as possible. Vocab Vitamins takes all the childcare hours I am lucky to have. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR HARRY POTTER.
But reading it I am. Why? Why now, when I could have read it just as well say, 6 or 12 months from now? Because of all the hype. The series has gotten so enormously popular, that even if I did my best to avoid all book reviews (I have), all coverage (I have), someone somewhere would leak the storyline and spoil it for me before I read the book.
And that would be terrible.
So thanks to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I am now sporting a darker shade of under-eye circles than usual. And naturally, this week’s words are culled from the first part of it. But no spoilers here, I promise.
Here at Vocab Vitamins, we often glance over the bestseller lists. We recently noticed a book entitled: “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and were so intrigued that we went to the website and watched the promotional trailer. Here is where I will switch the “we” to “I”.
I, (Julie Karasik here) grew up as a tomboy through and through. I remember a distinct decision I made around 8 years old that boys get to DO more stuff, and have way more fun by running around playing sports and games and that frankly, I preferred to be a boy. In school, I was interested in science above all else, and by the end of college I had settled on my strong interest in technology for my professional pursuits. So my perspective has always been of a girl, then a woman, who felt insulted and boxed in by the typical view of girlhood and even womanhood.
Now that you know my worldview, let me tell you more about the book. It is in essence a compendium of activities, information, and how-to instruction that would be ‘of interest’ to boys. It is a work of nostalgia, bequeathing to boys the knowledge to pursue the ‘boyhood’ of the past, before text messaging, video games and tv. Some of the topics include: how to make great paper airplanes, rudimentary archery, how to play soccer, poker, table tennis, build a tree house, skip stones, make a periscope, grow crystals, make a go cart, etc.
It is a beautiful thing that the authors, who are brothers, got together and created the book that they wanted in their childhood, but never had. They centralized all the fun things that they learned from many sources, and made it a little easier to break away from the media-centric world of today’s kids.
But here is the thing. Whenever you say, something is for boys, you are also broadcasting an explicit-by-exclusion message that something is NOT for girls. Many of the subjects covered here could be great fun for girls as well as being incredibly useful for them in learning basic science, or a least the desire to experiment and do things herself. Many women have no idea how to wield a saw of any kind or properly drive nails through wood. Imagine if we had an encouraging opportunity when we were young to do so? How about an insight into basic scientific principles through play that would then make high school and college physics less intimidating?
I am in favor of celebrating boys, but not at the expense of girls. It is tragic that this book was positioned for boys only–and this is one of the main reasons it got onto the best sellers lists everywhere. I hear that there is girls version coming out! I challenge the publishers to create a book that would leave most of this knowledge intact. If they fill it with beauty secrets, that will be the ultimate insult.
My girlhood is over. I turn 30 this year. I have worked out the kinks of my perceived limitations of my gender. I love being a woman, but I still love sports with a passion and I am often tinkering with my server from the command line. Now, I am raising a little girl and I want her opportunities to be wide open.
In the latter half of the 20th century, we have made great strides in gender role flexibility. Women can be doctors, firemen, CEOs, stay at home moms, and men can be nurses, teachers, make-up artists, and stay at home dads. But much of our professional and personal potential comes from our explorations through play in our childhood. For example, when women enter computer science programs, they often feel behind since many of their male counterparts have been programming since they were children. I personally know a woman who was accepted at all the top medical schools in the country, yet spent most of her college career insisting that she was not good ‘hard sciences’. When and where did she ever learn that?
I hope that we can continue to open the horizons for all children by making it fun and acceptable to get out of the house, or at least get their hands dirty by doing–and learn science, history, woodwork, art, sewing, fishing, and everything in between.