28 April 2011

Book Review: The Pun Also Rises

Title: The Pun Also Rises
Author: John Pollack
Publisher/Year: Gotham Books / 2011
Date Finished:
Source/Format: TLC Book Tours / Print

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The idea of linguistic history titillates me intellectually, but I must admit to not having a lot of luck with it in practice. My linguistics courses in general while in college were universally boring. But deep down inside, I knew that linguistics could be absolutely fascinating if put in the right hands. This book definitely proves that. A historical and cultural look at the role of puns, The Pun Also Rises informed, entertained, and challenged me.

First, the challenging part. I have always thought - despite popular belief - that puns were a mark of genius. While some puns are rather ridiculous and easily understood, many are intellectually complex and require a higher intellect to grok. Reading this book validated that thought, and not only did I definitely not understand some of the puns used, but I am pretty sure there were puns I didn't even recognize as puns. I like this for some reason.

Pollack clearly loves language. I say clearly because not only does he directly state that he loves language, but the way the book is written demonstrates a conscious manipulation of word usage and sentence structure. In other words, I enjoyed his style. He maintains a humorous, informative, intellectual, and witty tone throughout - a style I think of as a "academic chic". I love that perfect balance between geek and cool in writing.

I definitely recommend picking this one up if you are interested in linguistics, like some funny in your books, or like a cultural history type of read.

The publisher is offering one copy of the book to one of my readers, so if you are interested, leave me a comment with your email address! US and Canada only.

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Question: What's the best pun you've ever heard?


  1. I can never think of a pun when I need to! But I love them! Please enter me (in spite of my cluelessness - but that's why I need the book, right?!)

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Oh, I think my husband would just love this book! He is a freak about reading all that he can about linguistics, so please do enter me in your giveaway! The books sounds perfect for him!


  3. My sister would love this. Her bachelor's is in linguistics and she loves reading things about language.


  4. I'd love a shot at this one! I get a kick out of grammar, and puns are one of my favs! Thanks for the chance!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  5. Ok so in my Practical Criticism class we were reading Mary Novak's Conceit and the main character's name is Peg and at some point this guy James made a joke about her being taken down a peg and it was hilarious mostly because a.) James never said more than two words in class and b.) he had obviously been sitting on this joke for a WHILE and had been dying to find somewhere to sneak it in.

    booksidoneread at telus dot net.

  6. Raych just cracked me up with her story (as usual). This sounds like a really interesting book especially since I'm considering taking a linguistics class in the fall.

  7. This sounds like fun! I'm not much for puns myself, but my boyfriend loves them. I bet he'd like skimming this one -- he's not much of a reader :)

  8. I love the phrase "academic chic."

  9. I thinks puns are amazing but can rarely come up with any remotely interesting. My brain doesn't work that way, it seems. Maybe that's why I've always been fascinated by puns. That and the wonderful way they use the language. It makes sense thatgood puns are a mark of genius. Beethoven was a big fan of puns!

    Please enter me in your giveaway for this fascinating book! Thank you!



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