Non-Fiction November: Words and Language

Without words, we wouldn’t have many of the books we love, whether fiction or non-fiction, so this week’s choices all celebrate words and language.

Britannica’s Word Of The Day

Become a word virtuoso in just one year with 366 zany words aimed to impress. This charmingly illustrated book features captivating words selected by the masterminds at Britannica to highlight the best of the English language.

Follow a menagerie of animals as they teach one new word for each day of the year, including a pronunciation guide, definition, sample sentence and interesting trivia about the word’s usage or etymology. Each month concludes with an outlandish story that features all the new words learned.

Today’s word is: erratic

Literally by Patrick Skipworth and Nicholas Stevenson

A feast for the mind, Literally is a mesmerizing journey around the world, old and new simultaneously, as we discover the origins of words and how their meanings have changed over time.

The stunning illustrations cleverly combine both original and current meanings of each word, capturing where the word originated from. Who knew that Caribou originally meant snow shoveller in  Mi’kmaq (an indigenous language of eastern Canada)? And when you see them nosing through the snow for food, their name makes perfect sense!

The linguistic diversity through the words chosen show just how far and wide the language we use has been influenced by the rest of the world. The map at the end shows in fascinating detail the language families spoken around the world, and the extent of their spread, or demise, is clear to see. A fabulous non-fiction browser that is sure to ignite the budding etymologist in anyone who reads it.

Journeys In Creative Writing by Rudi Haig, illustrated by Kim Hankinson

See how far your imagination will take you! Guide Ms. Adjective and Fluffy the dog through the Land of Creative Writing. There are 18 inventive landscapes buzzing with storytelling potential. Read the story openers then tackle the challenge using the fab fivers and top tips on each page. At the end of the book, you will have created your own unique story based in this fantastical world. And then you can do it all over again for a different outcome! A must for budding authors to channel their creativity.

The Hanmoji Handbook by Jason Li, An Xiao Mina and Jennifer 8. Lee

Learn Chinese with a new twist! This full-colour illustrated handbook introduces and explains Han characters and idioms through the language of emoji.

Even though their dates of origin are millennia apart, the languages of Chinese and emoji share similarities that the average smartphone user might find surprising.

These “hanmoji” parallels offer an exciting new way to learn Chinese – and a fascinating window into the evolution of Chinese Han characters. Packed with fun illustrations and engaging descriptions, The Hanmoji Handbook is entertaining, accessible and educational – as well as a quirky, visual gift book.