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The 10th IPEd Editors Conference will be hosted online on Monday 28 June 2021 to Wednesday 30 June 2021.

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Recommended recent releases for word nerds

by Jane Aylen

Wordslut: a feminist guide to taking back the English language, Amanda Montell (Black Inc.)
Amanda Montell is a writer and linguist from Baltimore, and her brash, funny, incredibly clever book examines the deeply gendered origins of not just words but language itself. We know language shapes meaning, and we know words can be used to include and exclude. Montell takes a close look at how and why. 

I particularly loved her exhortation to use ‘y’all’ as an inclusive term for a group of people, as well as the chapters on swearwords and the sticky situations we get ourselves in when we correct or defend language conventions in public discourse. Montell’s style is ‘sweary’ and casual — she writes for popular magazines, loves fashion and celebrity and doesn’t mind throwing in a vulgarity or 10 — but don’t let this mislead you on the rigour of her analysis.

The dictionary of lost words, Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
This novel ticks so many boxes for word nerds! The history of the Oxford English Dictionary, a subtle lesson on prescriptive versus descriptive, suffragettes, a sweet romance and lots of points to make about how language is used to reflect class, gender and even geography. It’s charming and by an Australian author, to boot. I’ll be buying this for every birthday present this year. (PS — A delightful companion to Simon Winchester’s classic The Surgeon of Crowthorne.) 

Yield, Tara June Winch (Penguin Random House)
Picking up a truckload of nominations and awards since its release, Yield is an Australian masterpiece centring on a fictional, almost-lost dictionary of the Wiradjuri language. August Goondiwindi returns home after the death of her grandfather and finds her family’s land under threat from a mining company. The race to protect it is tied to the dictionary and a mysterious family tragedy. Beautiful storytelling. Enchanting language. A novel to savour.

Bibliostyle: how we live at home with books, Nina Freudenberger (Hardie Grant Publishing)
Who likes to spend time on the weekends rearranging their books? Me! I love the look and feel of libraries. Visiting a friend for the first time, I’m drawn to their bookshelves in a way that is very possibly bad-mannered. If you’re anything at all like me, this is for you. Beautiful photos of book-loaded rooms that belong to fascinating people. Put it on your wish list!

Thinking inside the box: adventures with crosswords and the puzzling people who can’t live without them, Adrienne Raphel (Robinson)
Like baking and gardening, there’s a comfort in mulling over a regular crossword. (It may have helped many of us through the recent crisis.) But did you know crosswords were invented only in 1913? In this engaging history, the author’s devotion to the subject is clear. She travels to puzzle tournaments, interviews creators and writes of the personal joy she takes in a tricky clue.


Jane Aylen is an Accredited Editor and Social Media Manager for The Bookshop Bowral, in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

 





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