It’s week two already, holy cow! My month has gotten off to an academic start – I chose three books with a more serious bent, which may not have been the best choice! I’m still making progress though, so that’s good.
This week’s prompt is to come up with a fiction/non-fiction book pairing. This year I’m going with a pairing that I haven’t read yet but am excited to get to, especially if I can get my husband to buddy read the fiction book with me. So let’s get ready to dive into the exciting world of… dictionaries!
The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
Inspired as a boy by the multiple meanings to be found for a single word in the dictionary, Kohei Araki is devoted to the notion that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime—a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics.
Led by his new mentor Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the bond that connects us all: words.
I tried this one in Japanese but, ironically, I had to look up a few too many words for it to be enjoyable. 😅 I now have the English translation and look forward to reading it that way. Afterwards I plan to dig into:
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography–from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout, Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a world inhabited by quirky, erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate.
The only bad thing about this pairing is I can’t think of a third book to follow it up with!
What kind of start has your Nonfiction November gotten off to? Any standout reads so far?