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Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century Hardcover – October 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476713480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476713489
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Literary catnip for bird lovers who also find themselves fascinated – or annoyed – by the quirks of modern life. (The New York Times Book Review)

Schillinger demonstrates a keen talent for zooming in on expressions missing from our vocabulary....[she has] streamlined our language, fast-tracked awkward situations, and refined the humor of word play....You will want to share these clever coinages with your friends, and many of these words may even make it into our expanding collective lexicon. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Wordbirds is a rare thing: A gift book that's fun, nicely packaged and truly worth reading. (Chicago Tribune)

"I am so into "Wordbirds", that from now on, I am going to use these words when playing Scrabble. If anyone challenges me, I will immediately throw the entire board game in the air. And I will say: 'that's for Liesl Schillinger.'" (Fred Armisen)

“A lexicon of witty neologisms for the modern age.” (Vanity Fair)

“The Oxford English Dictionary adds a short list of new words once a year ("squee" and "selfie" recently made the cut). Writer Liesl Schillinger finds such a change of pace "glacial," and has written an entire delightful book packed with fresh additions to our language. . . . The result is a collection of neologisms that resonates. Why? Underneath Schillinger's wit lies a more pointed commentary on how rapidly our society is changing, so much so that not even language has time to catch up.Anyone whose gotten "parking spaced"—also known as losing you car in a sprawling multitiered lot after a long, brain-numbing day of shopping at a mall—can relate.” (Oprah.com)

A great gift for pun lovers and playful linguists. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

If your friend complains when you blunderschedule, try not to apologibe in response. Liesl Schillinger's witty collection of necessary new words -- with charming avian illustrations from Elizabeth Zechel --will have you on a jollyroll. (Barnes & Noble Review)

“[Schillinger’s] lexicon cleverly captures the new normal of the twenty-first century. Some of her neologisms, in fact, may well stand the test of time.” (Glenn C. Altschuler Huffington Post Books)

“Schillinger, an esteemed cultural critic, with illustrator Elizabeth Zechel, has crafted a beautiful book that offers 200 witty, newly claimed words that can help us make our way through the ever-evolving cultural language of the new millennium. . . . The words in Wordbirds are amusing and clever tools that resonate because they are at once original and familiar. Accompanying the words -- all of which are defined and used in a sentence -- are Zechel’s stunning illustrations.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

“[Schillinger] provides . . . wonderful new words. You'll find yourself plugging them right in to your conversations . . . . [Wordbirds] is great fun.” (WSYO.org)

About the Author

Liesl Schillinger has written for many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review and translates fiction from French and German. 

Elizabeth Zechel is the illustrator and author of the children’s book Is There a Mouse in the Baby’s Room? She has created illustrations for children’s books and cookbooks, as well as for a variety of magazine and literary journals. She lives in Brooklyn.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Laugh out loud funny!
Mary Redmon
Ms. Schillinger's Wordbirds are always funy, show a sharp insight into modern life, and are often pretty useful.
Peter E. Marks
Clever, witty, fun read.
william a mcfadden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emily Richards on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! It's such a sweet size, the little color illustrations of humorous birds to go with the words are beautiful, and best of all are the brand-new words to describe or name things and conditions and people from RIGHT NOW. Now I just want everyone to buy it so they understand what I'm talking about when I drop some of this vocab. Totally fun read. And another thing: this is not written in that cleverer-than-thou, sarcastic tone that seems to have taken over the world in the past three years. It's economical, sly, serious, down-to-earth. The humor comes not through smart-ass definitions (they are not), but in the very fact of the words and their meanings, which reveal an affectionate steel-trap mind, I think.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan Shapiro on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A well-known book critic gets her own debut in this smart, funny and charming dictionary of new words that should exist - and now do.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Holly Finn on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book weighs 12 ounces and is wonderfully light in spirit too. I raced through the entries while in line at San Francisco airport, laughed out loud at least five times, and immediately memorized "factose intolerant" - maybe the best entry (and most useful on the west coast). It describes those earnest types who shun certain foods based on the sudden, trendy, and totally unfounded belief that they have a severe allergy to them. (Can't wait for the next edition of Wordbirds, which will hopefully include a cure.) For now, I'm buying this book for birthdays, house presents and stocking stuffers - in bulk!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George F. Simons on November 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Despite its astute and often humorous verbal concoctions, the underlying point of this book is not just that there are not enough words in the language to describe what is going on about us or within us, but that the development of discourse is hindered by our tendency to confirmation bias, to make new things the same as things we already know. C'est a dire, making them fit the culture we espouse.

The book reminded me of a colleague in the National Speakers Association who used to tell the story of how her immigrant mother, in her Peloponnesian accent, complained that there were not enough words in the English language. She told her daughter, "Not enough words dis language. You know, you fader take me to da beets; he buy me beets to wear ona my neck; I cook for him beets; sonamabeets, beets'a me why no got 'nufa words dis English language!" Mom was right. We need to address the challenge of the motquimanque, the words we lack, the distinctions we fail to make.

So, Schillinger, neologizes experiences most of us have and can describe, but for which we have no socially constructed verbal identity. For example, the verb "reckignore" is defined as "pretending not to see someone you know when it might be awkward to say hello." Another that tickled my fancy was "greenfleece," defined as, "to charge exorbitant prices for organic and/or locally sourced products." Fits with what my California friends (many of whom are "factose intolerant") call the New Leaf grocery chain-"New Thief." It certainly bespeaks my experience with alimentation bio here in France.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Redmon on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful illustrations and brilliant wordplay that manages to capture the complex and goofy world we are living in here in the early decades of the 21st century. Laugh out loud funny!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rodney A. Coggin on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Coining a new word makes us all richer. Everyone will find a favorite here to enrich their vocabulary. Clever wit is slim in today's e-world.

Birds of the world should welcome these newcomers. What a flock of charmers and mockers.

Anyone with half a sense of humor needs this by their bed or wherever they need a pick-me-up.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Birds are word. Words are birds: they sing, ring and rhyme as they fly from the forest of mixed metaphors and dive into the rivers of equivocal elocutions. Liesl Schillinger has hit upon a brilliant theme, updates her blog regularly, and will contribute to the evolution of the English language in ways we should not (ahem) misunderestimate.

And it's illustrated, lovingly, with beautiful birds.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These are brilliant. Ms. Schillinger's Wordbirds are always funy, show a sharp insight into modern life, and are often pretty useful. I'm sure that for years to come I will describe people as "meehees" and look back fondly on the days of "wonder duty." "Wordbirds" is also a well-produced book, its design is ironically twee, but it's also very pretty. People seem to love receiving it as a gift.
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