Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry—also known as the Author Enablers—will blog about writing and publishing on The Book Case once a month.

To be a writer, one must be someone who loves words. This doesn’t mean writers are required to get degrees in philology or etymology or be grammarians (though a little knowledge of all these fields helps); rather, it is the interest in and attention to words and sentences, to how we communicate by these means, that sets writers apart from, say, train engineers. (Though Sam knew a train engineer who loved writing—a preacher who had lost his vocation—but that is another story.)

But how do we keep our own writing fresh? The primary way, of course, is to read; writers must be readers. But sometimes we need other stimulation besides reading our favorite novels or histories or comic books. Sometimes we need the help of an accessible, brilliant teacher to make us think anew about words and writing.

Word Catcher by Phil Cousineau offers just such an opportunity. This pocket-sized, accessible book is packed with information about strange words you’ve probably never encountered; words you though you understood but that turn out to have a wild, interesting background; and just plain fun words. For instance, kinephentom is the term for that “weird phenomenon of the wheels of a bike appearing to spin backwards.” Who knew the lowly pretzel was originally designed to resemble the folded arms of a praying monk? And what about “flizzen,” which sounds like it was invented by J. K Rowling and means “to laugh with every muscle in the face”?

Word Catcher is a book to keep beside your dictionary or bedside to keep your writer’s mind growing, thinking, and laughing.

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