Saturday, November 12, 2011

Words, Wonderful Words

When I was a younger girl in my 20s, I read books that challenged my vocabulary and brain.  Jane Austen was tops for doing that - when reading Pride and Prejudice, I had a piece of note pad paper in the book with all the words I rarely had seen or used - officious, intrepidity, odoriferous, reticule, etc.  The Blind Assassin was another fabulous read that lead to great conversations replete with a plethora of marvelous words.  My mom and sister were big fans of Elizabeth George and I gladly delved in, but sadly I only made it pass solecism and insouciant until I decided to pursue other authors.

Two years ago, I became a mother and then six months after that a wife (I adopted a little boy from Haiti and while in the process met my future husband although because of adoption laws we were unable to get married until after the adoption was finalized).  Now I read many picture books and find I have less time for those vocabulary rich books.  As my job expanded from a K-2 librarian to a K-8 librarian, I find my time is also limited and now for work I will listen to many YA books.  I'm currently making my way through The Ranger's Apprentice series as the author recently visited the school.  I'm loving these books, but again the caliber of word choice is not that of a Jane Austen novel - don't tell Mr. Flanagan I said that as he is a very charming man who writes beautiful fun books and loves doing it.

So I find myself in a dilemma, all those great big juicy words I regularly used are slipping away.  Is it 'mommy brain'? stress? lack of sleep? or something my neurologist and I are exploring?  Who knows?  All I know is that I know there is a better word in my brain, but it eludes me when I need it most.

Are you the type of reader who loves finding those fabulous vocabulary rich books and then using those great words? Have you experienced the sensation of knowing there is a great big juicy word that you could use beautifully, but then find yourself grasping for it and not being able to retrieve it?

Here are my suggestions for possessing and keeping wonderful words:

1.  Word of the Day toilet paper - this works even better than a calendar as many more great thought occur in the loo than by ripping off a calendar page.

2.  Crossword puzzle - work your way up to the New York Times, you will see your word recall increase as you see the same clue day after day.

3.  Have conversations with smart people and when they say a word that is spectacular, make a mental note of it. My sister ( is one who will talk to anyone and always give you at least one great vocab word.

4.  Try to use a new word in different conversations throughout the week.  Don't overload yourself with more than one word per week, but keep a running list of some of your favorites.

What do you suggest?

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