Julia's Reviews > The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
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's review
Sep 23, 2011

it was amazing

when choosing a rating for books, goodreads offers some intended-to-be-helpful advice: when your mouse hovers over a certain number of stars, it offers a short description; for five stars, it gives you the criterion "it was amazing!"

i fully understand the reasoning behind these, but i object. i'm not giving the mother tongue five stars because it's amazing; i'm giving the mother tongue five stars because it's funny and i love the english language and because this book is my literary version of comfort food. it is my macaroni & cheese. it is this book that calms me down and makes me feel better when i'm caught in a web of too much boundless thinking and self-analysis and hopelessness, and then bill bryson can say something cutting about dan quayle or about guinea dialects and my heart is metaphorically beating at a normal pace again.
so there's that.
and i loved this book even before i needed it, back when i pulled it randomly off the shelf at my school's library a year ago while wishing i had chosen the thesis for my history project about how anglo-saxon and french and latin formed a "vibrant" english language instead of one about the self-evident accomplishments of muslims in the middle ages. i loved it then.
so there's that.

oh--the only niggling thing about this book is its datedness. it didn't bother me so much during my first read, but this time around it did. it's no fault of bryson's, of course. and it wasn't bothersome so much as sad for some reason i couldn't quite ascertain, really.

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