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Literary Sara

What I've been reading on the trolley. 

Currently reading

Salt Fish Girl: A Novel
Larissa Lai
A Place of Greater Safety
Hilary Mantel
Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career
Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
Moby Dick: or, the White Whale
Herman Melville
The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu - Dan Jurafsky

I really enjoyed this collection of linked essays about the history and taxonomy of food words. In fact, I finished it over one weekend of travel--it was accessible and breezy enough to be read continuously on three-hour train rides.


Each essay examines either a grouping of words (salad, salsa, sauce, salt) or a genre of food writing (menus, reviews, etc.), although the essays are well-connected and refer back to one another. About half the analysis is linguistic and makes use of specially written software to produce a quantitative report of when and how certain words are used. The other half is historical, tracing the evolution of certain words as they travelled from country to country centuries ago. The latter is interesting, but the former is useful, and I think I'll be incorporating some of the book's linguistic observations (such as how the sound of words influences perception of meaning) into my own writing.