Take a Word…. Book: Etymology, History, Sayings; Book of Kells, Book Clubs, a Poem and a Short Story
Etymology of 'book'
‘book’ comes from:
- the Old English bōc (a document or charter)
- (from the Germanic) the Old English bōcian (to grant by charter)
- the Dutch ‘boek’
- the German ‘Buch’
- and probably related to the English ‘beech’ (in which runes were carved)
You can Never have Too Many Books
What's your Idea of a Good Book?
Whatever style or genre of book you enjoy, there is such a vast choice that chances are we all read a varied selection. It's good to loose ourselves in entertaining fiction. A well-crafted poem can touch our emotions. An informative article can educate, even change lives. In short, the power of words is enormous.
A book is a solid object. We can read fiction or non-fiction online, as an e-book or article, but 'curling up with a good book' is unbeatable. Curling up with a kindle just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? A book has a smell, a texture; it's a friend which opens up a treasure-chest of emotions or information or both. First, let's find out about the word itself.
Some of my Good Books
Definitions of 'book'
- a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers
- a literary composition that is published or intended for publication as a book
- the telephone directory for the area in which someone lives (is your name in the book?)
- a set of records or accounts
- a bookmaker’s record of bets accepted and money paid out
- notebook in which a referee writes the names of players who are cautioned
- a set of tickets, stamps, matches, samples of cloth, raffle tickets etc, bound together
- (this was a new one on me!) the first six tricks taken by the declarer in a hand of bridge, after which further tricks count towards fulfilling the contract
- reserve (accommodation, a place..), buy (a ticket) in advance
- reserve accommodation for someone
- book in/into (e.g.when arriving at a hotel)
- engage (a performer or guest) for an event
- make an official note of the personal details of (a person who has broken a law or rule)
- US informal: leave suddenly; move quickly; hurry
Book of Stamps
Story or Poem?
I wasn’t sure whether to weave a short story or a poem around these ‘book’ idioms; however, I promised John (Jodah) that I would write a poem just for him when I published the next of the series. So, here you are, John!
Let's Do it By the Book
Well, books are swell aren’t they? They kiss and tell don’t they? They teach us so much about life.
How to balance the books, or fiddle them maybe, or spread icing thick with a knife.
You might be a bookworm who curls up each evening with your nose in a book, glass of wine,
to read a good tale of sweet girl and rogue male who blotted his copybook - swine!
What puts such a person into our bad books? Why is it we want his comeuppance?
He thinks he knows all of the tricks in the book but she knows, she doesn’t give tuppence.
She’s seen his little black book full of names, in fact she reads him like a book.
That’s why she gets rid of him, just throws the book at him, makes sure that he’s brought to book.
She books a short holiday and whilst she’s away, she grasses him to the police.
They book him, the bigamist, all by the book. He’s out in the cold, no solace.
She books into hotel, gets bell, book and candle and closes the book on that man.
She takes a leaf out of her sister’s book, sort of, and tries, well, whatever she can.
Oldest trick in the book is offering to cook, a sure way to win a man’s heart.
She’d written the book on it, thought she knew all of it, then she found she’d missed a part.
With her new man’s kissing, her bank-book went missing; she’d been such an open book.
How foolish she felt, in letters spelt out, for certain it’s one for the books.
Ok, said her sister, don’t worry, it’s Mister bank man who’s going to get hurt.
Not in my book, it isn’t, said the girl who just couldn’t see how this was going to work.
He was on all the books, on all lists of crooks, but then, he just turned in his tracks.
He missed her so badly, was crying so sadly, and knew that he must change his tack.
The man, he came back, how crazy is that? It just goes to show that a lover
can be good or sad but not always bad, so don’t judge a book by its cover.
Don't Judge a Book by its Cover
The Good Book (yes, a story as well!)
Samuel knew The Good Book well, was familiar with the books of the Old Testament as well as the Gospels. He lived by their principles and generally didn’t do too badly. Though his main occupation was Rector, he was also a writer.
“Off to the book-signing at 10,” he told his wife. “Do you want to come?”
No reply. He looked over to where she sat deep in the armchair by the window, “Jo, do you want to come?” his tone held a slight annoyance.
She started and looked up quickly, “Oh sorry darling, I was deep in my book, didn’t hear you, what was that?” A minute’s discussion decided that she was best left at home, nose in book; it wouldn’t be that interesting to watch a line of people asking for an autograph.
If there was a line, that is. For all he knew he’d be alone with his pile of apprehensive books. Still, he’d had some success with his little books of words, his three plays; a few aspiring actors had enjoyed touring the county in rep*. Several village halls had been booked up which was encouraging. In writing it, he was hoping his brother might read it one day. Arguments at home and a yen for the boards had taken him away.
The Gutenberg Bible
The Book Signing
Most seemed to enjoy his sermons, there was still a spattering of villagers each Sunday. The last delivery had been on the subject of the ‘People of the Book’, as Jews and Christians were referred to by Muslims. It was along the lines of being aware of ‘living by the book’, no matter the religion. Little did he know it was going to have such an impact.
“Here we are,” thought Samuel as he drew up outside the local book shop. Peeking through the age-old distorted panes, he could see a few waiting hopefuls with copies of his effort tucked under their arms.
He had signed a fair few, when the man next in line threw his copy down on the table in front of Samuel. He didn’t recognise him. He noticed unkempt hair, a thread-bare coat and bookish glasses but something about him made him uneasy. It seemed he was there to cause trouble.
“Didn’t think much of your sermon last week,” said the man. “I suppose we should live by this book, should we? Not very Christian in my mind. Crossing the line, if you ask me, writing about such filth.”
The story concerned a relationship, a break of trust and loyalty, an affair, all culminating in a reconciliation, in a ‘happy ever after’. This stranger obviously wasn’t impressed and literally wanted to throw the book at him.
“Well,” said Samuel, “I doubt it amounts to ‘bell, book and candle’ but I’m sorry you were offended by it. It was fiction with a message of love. I suppose you don’t want me to sign your copy?”
“Sign it? Of course I want you to sign it, Sam,” said the man. “It’s for Michael. He’s tracked you down via this measly book and the least you can do is write him a few words.”
With that, the man removed his old coat, took off his disguise and sat down next to Samuel with a grin, a handshake, then a hug.
“Guess it’s time I stopped acting stupid, started living by a better book and asked my family to forgive me.”
Samuel couldn’t stop smiling.
*rep = reparatory company, a group of provincial actors putting on plays
‘Bell, book and candle’ refers to excommunication from the church, being damned to hell unless you conformed or did penance for whatever sin you’d committed. A bell, a Bible (the Good Book) and priests with candles were all present. The candles were snuffed out or dashed to the ground when the ritual was complete. By inference, it’s getting rid of something you hate.
Nose in a Book
A little more
‘close the books’ - cease trading
‘Throw the book at someone’ - the law book, the rule book - give them the worst penalty possible.
‘Blot your copybook’ - let a blot of ink fall on the page of writing that was being copied out and therefore spoil your work, make it inferior… coming to mean that you’ve not done your best, you’ve spoiled your reputation.
Debutantes used to practise good comportment, heads held high using a book balanced on the head.
The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel book in Latin, the original Monks’ illuminated letters, carefully kept from around AD 800. It was created in a Columban monastery in Britain or Ireland, regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure, a masterpiece of Western calligraphy and included the Lindisfarne Gospels. The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells, which was its home for centuries. Today, it is on permanent display at Trinity College Library, Dublin.
It is an example of painstaking, outstanding, dedicated artistry, done in the name of devotion over a lifetime.
Book of Kells
Do you belong to a Book Club?
Book clubs exist all over Britain and no doubt in most places around the world. If you enjoy reading then see what groups are in your area. It’s an opportunity to discuss the books you read, to meet new people with different preferences and ideas of what makes a good read, as well as introducing you to styles of books which you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself.
Usually, someone suggests a book and, if all agree, it’s ordered from the library. The meetings are generally once a month but can be organised to suit a group’s needs.
We meet in the local Arts Centre, have a glass of wine or other drink from the bar and then rent a room away from the noise where we can exchange views about our latest read. It’s good fun, light-hearted and leads to many fascinating discussions about connected themes.
If there isn’t one in your area, start one of your own! All it needs is a core of 6-10 people; they could be your neighbours, colleagues or a group of friends. Why not try it?!
Never too Early to Start!
Make up your own!
How about creating a Dictionary of Hubbers’ Idioms? Make up your own! I'll record them and make a hub out of it if there are enough. Just for fun; who knows, it might catch on!
A few to get you thinking (open to any other words, as long as they're original!)
- book-worthy (a subject worth writing about)
- a story worth a hundred books (a good story)
- book biting or book nibbling (a gripping story, so that you’re nibbling on the edge of the page, instead of finger-nails, with tension)
- beat the book (get the information out first)
- book-scared (doesn’t like reading)
- let’s book the story (finish the last draft)
- all booked out (too much reading)
Choice of Books
What is your favourite book (please be more specific in the comments)?
© 2015 Ann Carr