bonny_kate: (book love)
[personal profile] bonny_kate
 I've been reading the occasional linguistic blog, and I stumbled across a lovely little book on the history of various punctuation marks. Shady Characters: the secret life of punctuation, symbols, & other typographical marks is a charming, light read. Houston follows the history of various marks, sometimes through previous shapes and as far back as Ancient Greece. It is both easy to read and entertaining. Houston also peppers the text with amusing footnotes. In the chapter Titled The Asterisk and the Dagger the first footnote reads "in honor of their role as footnote reference marks, I plan to fill this chapter with numerous lengthy and entirely tangential footnotes so as to take full advantage."

On top of that, the typesetting is lovely. Whenever Houston talks about a particular punctuation mark, the mark itself is in red text. This greatly enhances the readability, and just makes for a more visually interesting book. 

I did find some chapters on more modern marks, like the interrobang, to be less interesting, but overall this is quite worth the time.

If you have even a passing interest in punctuation or typography, I think you'd enjoy this book.

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Kate Saunders Britton

April 2017

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