For those who have truly waited until the last minute, or for those who give New Year’s presents, here are some books that escaped my attention when I made my last such post:
1) Sociolinguistics: A Very Short Introduction, by John Edwards. This won my heart right off the bat by having a dedication in Irish: “Do Dorren agus d’Oisín Ó Siochrú, beirt a bhfuil grá mór agus cion agam dóibh.” It is indeed short, a little over a hundred pages, with chapters on Coming to terms; Variation and change; Perceptions of language; Protecting language; Languages great and small; Loyalty, maintenance, shift, loss, and revival; Multilingualism; and Name, sex, and religion.
2) Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation, by Ammon Shea. Stan Carey of Sentence first has an excellent review, saying “It is light yet scholarly, explaining disputes in a clear, informed and entertaining fashion and proceeding in each case to a sensible conclusion.” I’ve been greatly enjoying dipping into it.
3) I’ve just started The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst, which jamessal gave me a while back; he wrote me: “this book, unlike The Stranger’s Child, really picks up at the end, so there’s even more enjoyment than merely some of the best prose fiction written in some time,” and I loved The Stranger’s Child (see this post), so I have complete confidence in recommending it. Thanks, Jim!
4) Another book I’m in the middle of is A History of War in 100 Battles, by Richard Overy; any fan of military history will know Overy’s name, and this is even better than I expected (having been bowled over by his Russia’s War) — the introduction alone is worth the price of the book.