Curiosities Answered Here

Okay, have you ever been three sheets to the wind? Possibly, if you own a sailboat. In which case, you know that the ropes that hold the sails vertical are called sheets. If only three sheets out of four are attached, the boat is going to wobble — as you do when you’ve had a drink too many. If you are curious about how other phrases came to be, such as “raining cats and dogs” and “Bob’s your uncle,” look for The Word Detective by Evan Morris. He includes the origins of some of our odder words, too: newfangled, sideburns, and quack (as applied to a medical man), for example. Alas, our library doesn’t own a copy but it does have a book with the same title, written by John A. Simpson, the former Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Read Morris for amusement and Simpson for edification.

Mr. Simpson also wrote a back cover blurb (“Captivating”) for Printer’s Error, which the front cover flap calls a “back alley tour of the history of the book.” Written by married historians J.P. and Rebecca Romney, it’s a light-hearted but educational look at books and how they got this way.

Our lovely library offers numerous children’s picture books about public libraries for your budding bibliophiles: to name four, L is for Library, Check It Out, Librarian on the Roof, and Dinosaur Goes to the Library. And did you know that the first popular picture book was Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag? It was published in 1928; prior to that, picture books were a novelty that usually only upper-class families enjoyed. This was because until lithography advanced reproducing illustrations was very expensive. You may remember when picture books were mostly black and white for the same reason.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison

Try not to have a good time…this is supposed to be educational. Charles M Schulz

Reading is the next best thing to being there. Carol Cail

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in September 2017

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