Birthday Books 2008

My parents, in their infinite wisdom regaring gift giving, have made it an annual practice to give me a bookstore gift card for my birthday.  I nearly let the month go by before I shared my purchases this month with you.

This year, my selections were heavy on the Shakespeare, probably due to the fact that I took a class on teaching Shakespeare through the Folger Shakespeare Library in June.

I only hope I get a chance to read it all soon.

I started a reading group at my school.  I was surprised by the reception!  We have a good 15 interested teachers, which at my school is approaching half the faculty!  We are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I need to get started on that one or I won’t be ready for our first meeting.

The Mother Tongue

I finished Bill Bryson’s book about the English language, Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way, a couple of days ago.  It was at times an entertaining read, and I think anyone who is interested in the English language or teaches English might want to read it.  I found the chapter on the development of English from Old English to Modern English particularly interesting.  Bryson’s wry observations about the strangeness of English are peppered throughout the book.  However, he does rely a bit on the same few scholars (Otto Jesperson and Mario Pei come up a lot), and I felt that the book became less interesting as it went on the point that I had to force myself to finish it (I’d gone too far to go back).

The biggest problem I had with the book, however, is that it is now dated in the age of the Internet.  The book was published in the early 1990’s.  Since the book was published, English has become even more essential for world business as it has become the language of most of the Internet.  As I read the book, I couldn’t help but feel it needs to have a new edition with Bryson’s analysis of the Internet’s impact on the development of English.  Without such an analysis, it doesn’t feel complete.