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How do you choose the right word? Some just don’t fit what you’re trying to convey, either in the labor of love prose for your creative writing class, or the rogue auto-correct function on your phone.
Can you shed lacerations instead of tears? How is the word barren an attack on women? How do writers such as Joshua Ferris, Francine Prose, David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith, and Simon Winchester weigh and inveigh against words?
We sat down with Katherine Martin and Allison Wright, editors of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, to discuss what makes a word distinctive from others and what writers can teach you about language.
Writing Today, the Choice of Words, and the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
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Reflections in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
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The Use and Abuse of a Thesaurus
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Katherine Martin is Head of US Dictionaries at Oxford University Press. Allison Wright is Editor, US Dictionaries at Oxford University Press.
Much more than a word list, the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus is a browsable source of inspiration as well as an authoritative guide to selecting and using vocabulary. This essential guide for writers provides real-life example sentences and a careful selection of the most relevant synonyms, as well as new usage notes, hints for choosing between similar words, a Word Finder section organized by subject, and a comprehensive language guide. The third edition revises and updates this innovative reference, adding hundreds of new words, senses, and phrases to its more than 300,000 synonyms and 10,000 antonyms. New features in this edition include over 200 literary and humorous quotations highlighting notable usages of words, and a revised graphical word toolkit feature showing common word combinations based on evidence in the Oxford Corpus. There is also a new introduction by noted language commentator Ben Zimmer.
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Pie is prevalent this time of year.
In fact, according to the American Pie Council — and it makes me happy just knowing such a council exists — the most popular holiday pies are:
- Lemon meringue.
- Pecan, chocolate cream and mincemeat (in a three-way tie).
So this seems the appropriate time to feature Cari Best’s latest picture book, Easy as Pie (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010)
In this book, Jacob sets out to make a perfect peach pie for his parents’ anniversary.
And why wouldn’t it work out? He’s following the recipe from none other than the famous TV personality Chef Monty. But Jacob runs into a few pastry snags along the way that he solves with ingenuity and persistence.
Along with the story is a recipe for Happy Peach Pie, baking rules from Chef Monty and a few tips Jacob learned as he stirred.
Now, today’s guest reviewer, Allison, joins us. And for the record? Her favorite kind of pie is pumpkin.
Today’s reviewer: Allison
I like: Ballet and soccer.
This book was about: Pie.
The best part was when: Jacob and his family finally ate the pie.
I was surprised that: The family ate dessert before dinner.
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “A happy baker makes a happy pie.”
If you’d like to see other blog review of this book, check out:
If you want to learn more about illustrator Melissa Sweet (and you really should, she won a 2009 Caldecott Honor Medal for A River of Words by Jen Bryant), you can visit her website. You also can read this interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast or this one with Jama Rattigan.
If you’d like to learn more about author Cari Best and the wonderful other books she’s written, you can read this article at Answers.com or this one from the Educational Book & Media Association. (My personal favorites of her other books are Shrinking Violet and
Does My Head Look Big In This?
16-year-old Amal is a pretty typical teenager--she stresses over school, has crushes on boys, and loves her friends. When she decides to wear the hijab (Muslim head scarf) full-time, she begins an emotional and spiritual journey where she discovers a lot about who she is, what she believes in, and what it means to her. Despite criticism and assumptions from many people around her, she has made her choice and plans to stick to it.
I really enjoyed this book! Amal is a very likable and realistic person. She is smart, strong, funny, and she knows what is important to her and tries her best to stick to it. However, she can be immature and let her emotions get the best of her at times--just like anyone can. Her first-person narration felt smooth and natural; I found this book hard to put down once I got going!
The other characters in the book are very diverse and realistic as well. Amal has her school friends, Muslim friends, her parents, extended family, her cranky old neighbor... they all make for interesting conflicts and a dynamic story. Although this book is ultimately about Amal, it touches on many other issues from eating disorders and self-image to a friend's traditional mother trying to force her daughter into marriage. Also, I absolutely loved Amal's Greek-Orthodox neighbor, Ms. Vaselli, and the major impact Amal had on her.
When the book touched on Islam or Amal's choices, it wasn't in an overly preachy style. Instead, it explained what was going on--traditions, holidays, language--so that the reader could understand something they might have not otherwise. Still, when Amal would mention that people couldn't see that her hijab was just a piece of material I was a little thrown off. I don't mean that I thought the people should make a big deal out of her hijab, but it's not the fact that it's a piece of material as much as it's what it represents to her, right?
I think the part of the book that will always stand out most to me is at the beginning when Amal first wears the hijab to school. As she's arguing with the principal, she tells him that making the choice was personal. He replies by saying that it's obviously not, and it's actually a rather public choice. I thought it was really interesting to think about--it's a personal decision that's important to her, but at the same time, that personal decision is on display for everyone to see.
All in all, I loved this book! I think it's an important read, especially because this is such an underrepresented topic in YA fiction. Four and a half stars!
My name is Allison. People make fun of me for bringing a book everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) I go, but it’s totally worth it. I’m a reader, a blogger, and I know someday I’ll be an author. For now, I’m just looking forward to graduating high school and seeing more of the world!
Read more of Allison's reviews at Read Into This!
I've been tagged by Allison.
The rules are: Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post telling 6 weird things about themself... as well as clearly state the rules. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you're tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means."Go to her blog to see the instructions...
Here are the results of 6 wierd things about me. (only SIX?) Any other artists/writers reading this probably have some of the sensitivity issues.....
1. When I read anything, or even see things on movies or TV dealing with specific smells, I tangibly smell them. This can be wonderful, but also pretty disgusting at times. Sometimes it happens when I see things in movies or on TV.
2. If someone has an ache or pain, and tells me about it, I can usually feel it the way they have it, such as headaches, I'd feel it in the same area, and stomach aches, in the way they feel it, or pains in the back, etc. (this is not fun with upset stomach situations or other stomach issues.If someone in a car or vehicle even mentions feeling car sick, I am done for, even if I was fine for hours before. When my kids mention feeling sick, I feel sick immediately, but I do not vomit when someone else does, thankfully.
3. I detest wearing flat shoes unless I am in an uncommonly thin stage. I feel like a fat duck when wearing flat shoes, unless they are running shoes.
4. I can't stand having anything over my ears that would clog them or stop me from hearing, such as ear plugs. I have a mania about having to be able to hear clearly. I'm also extremely sensitive to noise, and excess noise, or off-key singing or offkey, jarring musical instruments.
5.I love to find wierd images in anything..whether it is patterns on the floor of my bathroom, or on the backs of dumptrucks when I'm stuck in traffic, or cloth, stains, etc. And I sometimes enjoy dirty images, such as metal grills on the road, rusted things (not eyesores) broken down barns, spattered stained trucks (what is it about trucks?)
6. I sometimes snort when I laugh, and unfortunately have laughed at a few inappropriate times without being able to help it. Thankfully I can cover it up enough not to hurt people..but it is terrible.
OK. Now I am going to tag: