So, National Readathon Day has finally arrived! What will your brain be feasting upon during that delicious 3 hour chunk of reading time that you’re going to carve out of your busy schedule? Share what you’re reading in the comments below! I’m planning on continuing my fascinating journey through Keith Houston’s new book, Shady Characters.
Houston has created a fascinating look at the history of punctuation and symbols, including common signs that are still used every day (@ # “” ) and others that are, well, a bit more obscure ( ¶ † ☞ ). Each symbol has its own chapter, tracing its development through the mists of time and ending with a look at how its used currently. Each narrative is accompanied by a look into the development of the name of the symbol and little offshoots into the history of the time or famous people who helped the development of the symbol.For example,have you ever wondered why we, in English, use the abbreviation lb. for the word pound? It all connects back to the Latin phrase libra pondo, which, according to Houston, “spawned a dynasty of intertwined signs, words, and concepts that are still evident today” (Shady Characters, pg.44) that ends in the common use of the # sign (know to normal people as the “pound sign” and typographers and historians as the “octothorpe”). Thick with information and studded with interesting facts, this book is like a good fruitcake (filling and easily digestible, unlike my dear Aunt Betsy’s brick of a fruitcake that shows up on my doorstep every 25th of December). You can also follow Houston’s current projects and discoveries on his Shady Characters Blog.