Official Review: Wordstruck! by Susanna Janssen

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.
Forum rules
You must limit each topic thread in this section to only one book or only one series. Make the title of the topic the name of the book, and if possible also include the author's name. If you want to allow spoilers, you must include the word spoilers in the title of the topic, otherwise spoilers are prohibited.
User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Official Review: Wordstruck! by Susanna Janssen

Post by Miriam Molina » 10 Aug 2018, 13:25

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Wordstruck!" by Susanna Janssen.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


When is a murder not a crime? Who are the members of a congress?

In Wordstruck!, Susanna Janssen passionately shares her unique romance with the most faithful of lovers: words! Having been born to an Italian mamma and a Dutch vader, she has love for language stamped in her DNA. Add to this her early exposure to Catholic masses in Latin! The book details how she fell in love with words – and the remarkable languages, cultures, and pun times that go with them.

Do you know that the highly creative Shakespeare originated the hopelessly corny “Knock, knock” jokes? Are you willing to bet that a gram of prevention is better than a kilo of cure? Have you any idea that words vie yearly for the coveted “Word of the Year” title? There are languages that have unique terms that cannot be translated into English without using several words (or even many phrases), for instance, the evocative Russian word toska.

Susanna gives tips on how to spot liars and lets you practice them using William Jefferson Clinton’s press pronouncement in 1998 about him and that woman. Do you know that “villain” used to mean the innocent “worker in a villa”? Learn the disastrous effects of using the wrong preposition: try it with the verb “break” (and the prepositions in, out, up, down, ad infinitum) for an exciting sampling. Know the secret of staying awake while cruising along those lonely highways. (Clue: Mind those quirky billboards!) A Frenchman can call his sweetheart Ma Puce (literally “My Flea”), and she will stick to him forever!

The reader will have all the above and more! While feeding your brain with her collection of enchanting trivia about words - which she touts as the greatest human creation, Susanna will also effortlessly tickle your funny bone. The lady is a natural comic. There is also the bonus lesson that she drills into the reader: learning a second language will keep the demon called Alzheimer’s Disease at bay; this is no idle claim as scientific evidence abounds to support it.

This book offers many hours of enlightenment, excitement, and entertainment. Anyone who is fascinated with words will devour this book with gusto. Those who speak Spanish will fall in amor with the book. Spanish is the author’s second language, and she relates many happy experiences with the lengua. She is also gaining proficiency in her mother’s tongue and hopefully her father’s, too.

Susanna compiled most of the material from her long-running semi-monthly newspaper column, “A Word in Edgewise,” in the Ukiah Daily Journal in California. All articles are well-researched, pack a punch (and a punchline or two), and have catchy titles. “U.S. and Them” is one.

I am myself awed by the power of words, and Susanna made me even more so. While I did a little College Spanish, I have let this prime knowledge rot in the deep cupboards of my brain. It’s time to summon it back. Susanna shares that the secret to succeeding in anything (including learning a second language) is to keep at it. Thus, the book also inspires the doubting Thomases like me. ("I’m too old!," "I’m too busy!," and "I’m too whatever!" are not acceptable excuses.)

The author also employs the interactive approach in some chapters, giving the reader quizzes and homework to ponder. This is a treat for game fanatics like me.

I only have a couple of things for the author’s consideration. The “Dictionary Game” which she apparently invented is fun, but the scoring is not so clear. Also, there are grammar rules shared in “Grammurder” which do not follow strict convention, particularly for the tricky words “neither” and “none.” (When even English grammarians quarrel over these rules, how can I fault Susanna?)

In this sea of wonderful messages, I fished out less than a handful of typos and a preference for the semicolon as a super-comma. These lapses are inconsequential and do not impact on the reading pleasure.

I give this outstanding book 4 out of 4 stars. I cannot give it less for the memorable experience I gained from reading it. By the way, the word of the year for 2017 (chosen by the most prestigious American Dialect Society that started the tradition in 1991) is “fake news”! That term certainly trumped many other contenders.

As to the questions about murders and congresses, here are the simple answers.
First question – when it refers to a flock of crows
Second question - salamanders (though “baboons” feels like the better answer)

******
Wordstruck!
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like Miriam Molina's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Bianka Walter
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 994
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 15:22
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 112
Favorite Book: The Old Man and the Sea
Currently Reading: In a Cottage In a Wood
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bianka-walter.html
Latest Review: The Ordinary Extraordinary Dog by Andrew Sherriff
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Bianka Walter » 12 Aug 2018, 03:59

A congress of baboons certainly feels like it should be a thing!
How wonderful - a book filled with words about words. And the words in your review seemed to come alive. I feel like they are real entities when you discuss how they vie for word of the year. I can see "emoji" battling it out with "metrosexual", one with a sword, one with an axe.
As always, I loved your review, Miriam!
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
- Dr. Seuss

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 12 Aug 2018, 08:25

Bianka Walter wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 03:59
A congress of baboons certainly feels like it should be a thing!
How wonderful - a book filled with words about words. And the words in your review seemed to come alive. I feel like they are real entities when you discuss how they vie for word of the year. I can see "emoji" battling it out with "metrosexual", one with a sword, one with an axe.
As always, I loved your review, Miriam!
Thanks so much, elephant-lover! You are the sweetest! Say, what do we call an herd of elephants?

Actually, an emoji was Oxford Dictionary's WotY for 2015 and metrosexual was 2003's winner for the American Dialect Society.

User avatar
Ruba Abu Ali
Posts: 458
Joined: 01 Jul 2018, 09:47
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 76
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ruba-abu-ali.html
Latest Review: Jagdlied by Dolly Gray Landon

Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 12 Aug 2018, 09:46

Wow! This is one of the loveliest reviews I have ever read. I am a huge believer in the power of words, and I would definitely love to read this book. Your review has enough wit to put a large smile on my face. Thanks a lot !

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 12 Aug 2018, 12:52

Ruba Abu Ali wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 09:46
Wow! This is one of the loveliest reviews I have ever read. I am a huge believer in the power of words, and I would definitely love to read this book. Your review has enough wit to put a large smile on my face. Thanks a lot !
You are more than kind! Susanna's humor is contagious. You should read the book. Have fun!

User avatar
Cecilia_L
Posts: 1204
Joined: 08 Jun 2018, 22:16
Currently Reading: Dreams can come true
Bookshelf Size: 102
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cecilia-l.html
Latest Review: From Broke to Breadwinner by Janaki Chakravarthy

Post by Cecilia_L » 12 Aug 2018, 14:28

This sounds like such a fun read, and I enjoyed your excellent review.

User avatar
Kat Berg
Posts: 776
Joined: 05 Oct 2017, 22:29
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 23
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 8
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 5">Raven's Peak</a>
Currently Reading: James Baldwin
Bookshelf Size: 224
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kat-berg.html
Latest Review: Why Am I Here by Melvin Bell
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Kat Berg » 12 Aug 2018, 15:03

This sounds like a fun book. For me, the perfect "bathroom" book, as I am unlikely to read it through like a typical book, but it would be fun to have it sitting around to pick up and peruse when the mood strikes.

User avatar
kandscreeley
Member of the Month
Posts: 5816
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 76
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 216
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: Invisible Martyrs by Farhana Qazi

Post by kandscreeley » 12 Aug 2018, 17:51

I haven't read a book like this but I find it fascinating. I do love a good play on words and finding out more about the English language sounds fun. I also love the interactive nature of the book. I'll have to look into this one. Thanks.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

User avatar
kfwilson6
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1840
Joined: 14 Feb 2018, 15:30
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 90
Currently Reading: The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time, #4)
Bookshelf Size: 287
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kfwilson6.html
Latest Review: Here Comes Little Jenna Jafferty by Terra Kern
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by kfwilson6 » 12 Aug 2018, 18:09

I guess it's finally time for me to start taking my Rosetta Stone French lessons I've been procrastinating about doing. Excellent review. This is such a unique book and sounds incredibly entertaining. J'aime Ca!

User avatar
daydreaming reader
Posts: 229
Joined: 02 Jan 2016, 19:38
2018 Reading Goal: 24
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 70
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 23
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-daydreaming-reader.html
Latest Review: Keys to Tetouan by Mois Benarroch

Post by daydreaming reader » 12 Aug 2018, 20:19

Sounds like a fun read, great review!
"Without chaos, there can be no order"
- Heath D. Alberts
"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."
Friedrich Nietzsche

User avatar
Kalin Adi
Posts: 1097
Joined: 01 May 2017, 14:29
2018 Reading Goal: 15
2017 Reading Goal: 5
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 86
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 680
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 118
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kalin-adi.html
Latest Review: We Love Short Shorts by Kathy Lindsey

Post by Kalin Adi » 12 Aug 2018, 21:11

Amiga! I'm glad you've decided to retake your Spanish classes. Let me know if you need someone to practice with. I believe in Susanna's words "the secret to succeeding in anything is to keep at it." Now, I'm learning French, so its good to know what Ma Puce means. On the other hand, this book is screaming "Buy me" "Buy me," so I'll put it in my "must buy" list.

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 13 Aug 2018, 04:43

Kalin Adi wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 21:11
Amiga! I'm glad you've decided to retake your Spanish classes. Let me know if you need someone to practice with. I believe in Susanna's words "the secret to succeeding in anything is to keep at it." Now, I'm learning French, so its good to know what Ma Puce means. On the other hand, this book is screaming "Buy me" "Buy me," so I'll put it in my "must buy" list.
Oh my! What have I gotten myself into? I'm still stuck with, "No tengo dinero!"
LOL!

Shortly after I submitted my review, the BOTD was "Zonas de Quema." Today, you volunteer to practice with me. Do I need a third sign?

Muchas gracias, mi amiga bella! Hasta luego!

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 13 Aug 2018, 05:11

daydreaming reader wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 20:19
Sounds like a fun read, great review!
Indeed it is! I hope you can experience it, too. Someone mentioned it as the ideal bathroom book. I prescribe an article a day. Let me warn you, though; you might not be able to stop.

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 13 Aug 2018, 05:31

kfwilson6 wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 18:09
I guess it's finally time for me to start taking my Rosetta Stone French lessons I've been procrastinating about doing. Excellent review. This is such a unique book and sounds incredibly entertaining. J'aime Ca!
Merci, mademoiselle! That's as far as my French goes. But I love French fries, even if I shouldn't!

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4091
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 135
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 539
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 13 Aug 2018, 05:46

kandscreeley wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 17:51
I haven't read a book like this but I find it fascinating. I do love a good play on words and finding out more about the English language sounds fun. I also love the interactive nature of the book. I'll have to look into this one. Thanks.
Hi, Sarah! Yes, I bet you will have a lot of pun times with Susanna!

Post Reply

Return to “Non-Fiction Books”