Nonfiction November Week 2: Become the Expert

cork w books

Wow! Week one of Nonfiction November just amazed me. You are the best! Seriously. It was so exciting to see how many people were posting about their year in nonfiction and reviews. At the end of the first week we had 62 posts linked up. That’s so wonderful! Thank you for making this such a great start to Nonfiction November. I’m so excited to read your posts this week! Is anyone else’s TBR going crazy? I created a tag on GoodReads specifically for books I’ve discovered during Nonfiction November.

This week’s topic is Be/Become/Ask the Expert. Share a list of titles that you have read on a particular topic, create a wish list of titles that you’d like to read about a particular topic, or ask your fellow Nonfiction November participants for suggestions on a particular topic. Last year, I blogged about my favorite nonfiction books about gardening and farming and I also blogged a list of books I’d like to read to become even more of an “expert” on this topic. If you’d like some more examples of this, check out last year’s amazing posts! This was one of my favorite weeks last year and I can’t wait to read your book lists.

This year, I’d like to become the expert in language and linguistics. I was a Spanish major in college and I took a lot of linguistics classes in both English and Spanish. I miss learning about language and the science of language. Most recently, I read Trip of the Tongue by Elizabeth Little. It was a great exploration of all the different languages in the United States, which are often forgotten about and in danger of disappearing. I need more books like this!

language books

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: The Amazing Adventure of Translation by David Bellos – I first heard of this book through Nonfiction November participant Wendy. Before I ended up leaving academia, I thought I’d like to become a translator. I’m fascinated by the way words work differently in each language and how translations can be effective. Is That A Fish in Your Ear? explores the world through the lens of translation and tries to answer the questions that a world full of translations creates.

Reading in the BrainThe New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene – We are all here because we are readers, but we probably don’t often think about the mechanics of it. Reading and the written word are amazing things and Reading in the Brain sounds like a fascinating exploration of everything from the science of how we read to the origins of written language and our understanding of it.

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Orkrent – There are a lot more invented languages than Esperanto and Klingon. Apparently! This book is going to tell me all about them. There are nearly 900 invented languages and I hope this book not only goes into why they were created, but also how.

Talking Hands by Margalit Fox – There is a bedouin community within Israel with a high frequency of deafness and there, in this isolated place, a native sign language has developed over the years, virtually uninfluenced by other spoken, written or signed languages. It’s an amazing opportunity to study the way a language develops. Sign languages are so interesting and this book, recommended by Nonfiction November participant Hillary of A Horse and A Carrot, sounds like one I would just devour.

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally – Controversial! Compelling! Those are the words used to describe Christine Kenneally’s primary focus of her book The First Word. Essentially, most linguists decided it was a waste of time to study the evolution of language. Christine Kenneally thinks most linguists are wrong. I love a good debate, but this also sounds like a good introduction to the world of linguistics and behavioral studies.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a favorite book about language? Let me know in the comments!

Now share your lists! Place your link to your Be/Become/Ask the Expert book list in the linky below. If you post any nonfiction reviews or other nonfiction related posts this week, please also include those here. I’ll be adding as much as possible in my round up of this week’s posts on Friday, so be sure to check back then. I can’t wait to read your lists!


53 thoughts on “Nonfiction November Week 2: Become the Expert

  1. Great topic! Is That a Fish in Your Ear goes on my list immediately (any book that quotes the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is worth a look). The others all look fascinating too. Shelves are groaning…

  2. This was by far my favorite week of Nonfiction November last year–looking forward to adding SO MANY more books to my TBR this week! Thanks very much for co-hosting!

  3. I’m so horrible with languages – I ended up taking Latin in college just because it we didn’t really have to speak it or understand…I was better with reading/writing than speaking/hearing. But, the book about the 900 made-up languages sounds interesting! Thanks for hosting this week!

    1. I used to think I was bad at languages too, but then I stuck with it and got a lot better. Once you get one second language down, starting to learn more got a lot easier. Plus, I think, taking linguistics classes made the process of language learning make so much sense. I haven’t picked up a third language as fluently as I did Spanish, but I learned a little bit of French and Chinese!

  4. Great topic. I’m not wholly a language ignoramus, but this is definitely a subject that I wish I had more expertise about. I find that just keeping my English vocabulary at a respectable level is a full time job in itself!

    Talking Hands in particular sounds fascinating.

    Thanks for hosting!

    1. Trip of the Tongue was really wonderful. Not only about language, but also about diversity and the importance of preserving all the different cultures in the US.

  5. Your list is very interesting! Those sound like some excellent books on language. Thank you for hosting Week 2! I’m looking forward to reading lots of great “Be the Expert” posts . . . and oh, yeah, I need to write my own!

  6. These all sound amazing Lu! I took a linguistics course in college and thought it would be a dry course but was fascinated by the subject and would love to learn more. Definitely adding Is That a Fish and The First Word to my list. WHICH IS EXPLODING.

    1. Doesn’t it sound so good?? I hadn’t heard about it before I put together this list, but it’s definitely a book I’m excited to read.

    1. That one does sound good! It’s so interesting that a lot of nonlinguists argue about “proper” English and expect linguists to jump on board, but anyone who has studied linguistics really doesn’t believe in any one proper version of a language over another. And language is always evolving and that’s a GREAT thing. It sounds like this book would take a similar stand.

  7. What a great list! I just bought a copy of Bill Bryson’s ‘Mother Tongue’ this past weekend. Your picks here should go great alongside it. Thank you for hosting this week.

    1. Ooh, that book didn’t come up in my research, but it’s definitely one I’d love to read. I’ve been meaning to pick up a Bryson book for forever and maybe this is the one I’ll start with. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Right? When it’s done right and the invented language has a grammar that can be learned, it’s just amazing. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  8. I can’t believe you’ve chosen languages/linguistics as your topic for this challenge – one of my favourite types of nonfiction. Like you, I studied languages and linguistics years ago and am still fascinated by the subject. I’ve read and absolutely loved ‘Is that a fish in your ear?’ I will be adding your other suggestions to my TBR list. Now to check out the other language nonfiction list and then get on with preparing my own post – not languages!

    1. I’m glad to hear that you loved Is that a Fish In Your Ear? I can’t wait to read it! I’m looking forward to reading your post.

  9. The only language based books I’ve read are by David Crystal & the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (yes, I really did read an encyclopedia one particularly miserable winter!)

    I love the sound of the fish one – brings to mind The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy 🙂

  10. Linked up my list. I decided to go with Be The Expert and shared three books on Jane Austen.

    Great list! I’m adding Reading in the Brain to my list.

  11. Language? Who cares about that stuff? Jokes, of course. I am most interested in the Reading in the Brain title, but the rest look good – and I mean they LOOK good. Those covers are great! The one I’m most interested in is the most visually boring, actually. Hmmmmm…..

  12. I’m late too. My computer actually crashed last week while writing this one. $800 later and I’m back in business with a new computer. I enjoyed this prompt and decided to share some of my favorite nonfiction books written by women

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