Category Archives: Language

The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

In an age unhealthily obsessed with substance, this is a book on the importance of pure style, from the bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. From classic poetry to pop lyrics and from the King James Bible to advertising slogans, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase – such as ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright’, or ‘To be or not to be’ – memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and witty style he takes apart famous lines and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming for literary immortality or just an unforgettable one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything to say – you simply need to say it well.


When I heard Mark Forsyth had a new book coming out I was really excited. I had a bit of a book crush on The Etymologicon, and loved The Horologicon too. So I immediately snatched it up when Icon Books e-mailed me, and read it more or less straight away.

I was a bit unsure if I would like it as much as the previous two, because it was about using words rather than their meaning and history. It’s certainly less quotable (I did a whole separate post of snippets from The Etymologicon), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, just different.

In some ways The Elements of Eloquence is more useful. You can use what is in it to make your writing, and speaking, better, or I suppose more stylised. A lot of the elements were things I recognised as being right, but didn’t really know why, it was interesting to see a bit of why. It was also good to learn the elements that I didn’t know.

I read this whilst doing NaNoWrimo, and I do think it improved my writing a little, or at least made me more aware of how I was writing things- even if I would have written it like that without reading The Elements of Eloquence.

Mark Forsyth is great to read. Easy, but interesting and informative. Intelligent and witty. I would certainly recommend his books to anyone interested in English and words. And his blog too. He was, after all, a blogger before he became a ‘writer’. I also recommend the hardback over the kindle version, it’s a beautiful book.

I certainly advocate a return to learning rhetoric in schools, and all the students should be set this to read! n fact they should just read it anyway.


Buy it:
Hardback (£7.23)
Kindle (£4.79)

Other reviews:
Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here.


Filed under Language, non-fiction review

The Horologicon- Mark Forsyth

Disclaimer: I received The Horologicon free from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

The Horologicon (or book of hours) gives you the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to the hour of the day when you really need them. Do you wake up feeling rough? Then you’re philogrobolized. Pretending to work? That’s fudgelling, which may lead to rizzling if you feel sleepy after lunch, though by dinner time you will have become a sparkling deipnosophist. From Mark Forsyth, author of the bestselling The Etymologicon, this is a book of weird words for familiar situations. From ante-jentacular to snudge by way of quafftide and wamblecropt, at last you can say, with utter accuracy, exactly what you mean.


I love, love, loved Mark Forsyth’s previous book The Etymologicon. So much so that I had to make a second post just to talk about all the words I tweeted about whilst reading it. I was super excited to read The Horologicon, and had planned to buy it when I went to a Mark Forsyth event which was meant to be last week (but was cancelled because apparently people in Birmingham don’t appreciate words *sob*), however when I saw it up on netgalley I snatched it up right away.

Maybe my expectations were too high but I didn’t like it as much.I think partially because it was in much bigger blocks. You couldn’t pick it up, read a paragraph and put it down again. That made it less tweetable, and also made it less easy to remember the words and information.

Maybe because it was on a less broad topic I found less of the words really interested me too, although I did tweet a couple which interested me. I did find I was telling other people about what I was reading rather than tweeting it because that broke my reading flow less. My boyfriend claimed that Forsyth made half the book up, but I think he’s  (my boyfriend) just being cynical.

I like the idea that you could skip between chapters depending on what time of the day it was, but it’s not very realistic. I did find occasionally my reading fit with what I was doing- and I think the experience was improved by that.

If you liked The Etymologicon you will probably like this one too, but if you haven’t read either I would recommend The Etymologicon over this one.


Buy it:

Kindle (£5.99)

Hardback (£7.92)

Other Reviews:

I know a few people on my blogroll are reading The Horologicon, but no reviews yet 😦

If you have reviewed this book drop me a line and I will add your link here.


Filed under Language, non-fiction review

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth’s Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It’s an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.


I got a little bit addicted to the knowledge from this book while reading it, I miss tweeting the bits I found interesting. In fact I miss finding the interesting bits, hopefully following Forsyth’s Blog will help remedy that.

I really did enjoy this book. Anyone who follows my twitter feed can probably see I loved finding out about the words. (Soon was the Anglo-Saxon word for now, but humans are by nature procrastinators so the meaning changed. Did you know that?).

The writing was very conversational, which made it very easy to read and easy to understand.

I also loved how each chapter linked into the next by linking the words each chapter started and ended with. It did make it a little hard to put down however, which is not so good when you’re on a bus, or on your lunch break.

It also made me a little dead to the world, a number of times people started talking to me only for me not the notice.

Can’t wait to read Forsyth’s most recent offering, The Horologicon.


Buy it:

Kindle (£5.19)

Hardback (£7.40)


Filed under Language, non-fiction review