That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words and Their Tangled Histories

Books on Tape. . ed. Feb. 2023. 6:06 hrs. ISBN 9780593683491. $47.50. LANG
English is complex and an ever-changing language, difficult for those who are learning it as a second or third language, and sometimes confusing for native speakers as well. The language abounds with different and sometimes conflicting spelling and grammatical rules that can easily trip up speakers and writers. In this short book, brother and sister coauthors Ross and Katherine Petras (Very Bad Poetry) offer their thoughts on correct grammar and usage in modern English and of centuries past. Unfortunately, the narration provided by the authors lacks emotion, and their jokes come across as condescending and judgmental of those who misuse English. The authors alternate in reading the entries, helping listeners to differentiate what word or phrase they are addressing, but the static, uninflected reading makes it difficult to stay engaged. The authors read the spellings of the words, which can help listeners to visualize differences, but it also bogs down the flow. While some of the entries are intriguing, much of the information is hardly surprising.
VERDICT Libraries looking to acquire this book would be better served by the print version instead of the audio.
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