Back to School and Back to Non-Fiction

The first hints of fall are here: the chill in the early morning air, a few yellow leaves on trees in Lakeside Park, and kids heading back to school. While the kiddos may be dreading the end of summer break and the return to class, I love this time of year. I find myself reading more non-fiction as the days get longer and the leaves turn. Hints of fall just make me want to learn something new! Libraries often are called places of “lifelong learning.” What does that even mean?

It means that you can learn anything, no matter your age, former educational achievement, or position in life. We’ve all heard the stories about Abe Lincoln reading by candlelight in a log cabin to teach himself law. Well, we might not all become president by reading at night, but we can all learn a little something by using the resources available at the library.

One area that has a lot of hidden gems is the 400s. These are books on language and are tucked away in the northeast corner of the second floor. It’s usually pretty quiet up there, so it is a nice section to browse. The books cover not only the technicalities of language and grammar, foreign languages, and vocabulary, but also the history and oddities of the English language. English is a strange creature.

Even odder: we’ve all heard of endangered species. What about endangered languages? As indigenous peoples become more mainstreamed, their languages are being lost.

Interested in reading about our weird little language and those that are dying out? Try these favorites:

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way by Bill Bryson

The Professor and the Madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

The Last Speakers: The quest to save the world’s most endangered languages by K. David Harrison

Check out the 400s for more fascinating books on the way we communicate.


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