Plotted, I Work at a Public Library and Bad Writing

Need a Christmas gift idea? Plotted is a hot-off-the-press literary atlas. Illustrator Andrew DeGraff has created detailed colored maps of the fictional topography of classic novels: Hamlet, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Watershed Down, Around the World in 80 Days, and fifteen others. The publisher sees the book as appealing to middle-grade through adult readers. Maybe you don’t need a Christmas gift idea; you can get Plotted for free at the Longmont Library.

Here’s another book you might like: I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan. It’s a collection of weird requests and unusual demands a circulation desk librarian has encountered. Example: A man asks “Do you have any books about how to become a prison guard? Specifically how to become a prison guard if you’ve already had some experience as an inmate?” Our peerless library has a copy.

Last summer, conducted an online poll of 2052 people and found that 74% of respondents aged 18 to 34 often noticed grammar errors in social media — correspondence both written and spoken. Across all age groups, 59% said that improper grammar is their biggest gripe regarding the English language. More women than men notice spelling and grammar mistakes, 75% to 66%. Quick, without calling a friend, conjugate the verb “to lie.”

Speaking of bad writing, the following item appeared in YourHub some time ago: “Fighting over what is the best professional football team in the right-hand turn lane of southbound Broadway Street at University Avenue at 3:53 a.m. Dec. 21, two men were cited…” Apparently the Broncos weren’t there.

An epigram is a terse, witty expression neatly or brilliantly phrased. Samuel Johnson called remarriage a “triumph of hope over experience.” Two more examples follow.

“First time I read the dictionary, I thought it was a poem about everything.” Steven Wright

“I prefer dead writers because you don’t run into them at parties.” Fran Leibowitz

Drive and punctuate carefully, you hear?

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at
*Originally published in December 2015


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