2010: 52. Mother Tongue

“More than 300 million people in the world speak English, and the rest, it seems, try to.”

Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson

       This is a perfectly well written and interesting book about the oddities of the English language (or as the subtitle says “English and how it got that way”).  Dealing with the quirks of the mother tongue, the robbing from other languages, the crazy place names, where words come from, it is an enjoyable sally into the wackiness of English.  It’s well written, it’s humorous, and it even cites its sources, which I like.  The only problem is that it is written by Bill Bryson, and I have read his other books, and they are better than this.  I am sure this is one of his first books, but the fact is, the whole time I was reading it, I wished it was as funny as A Short History of Nearly Everything, or my personal favorite, The Lost Continent.*  Perhaps it’s unfair to grade a book against its successors, but this is a fine book - it’s just subpar Bryson.

Date/Place Completed: August 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction, Re-read


*A book on my mind as I type this, since I spent my visit this weekend to the Eisenhower National Historic Site thinking about Bryson’s description of the comic banality of the place, from the pink towels, to the Zane Grey novels.  So funny (and totally true - what a weird place to visit).


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017