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Lane Greene's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Lane Greene recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Lane Greene's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Fifteen outstanding writers answered editor Wendy Lesser’s call for original essays on the subject of language–the one they grew up with, and the English in which they write.Despite American assumptions about polite Chinese discourse, Amy Tan believes that there was nothing discreet about the Chinese language with which she grew up. Leonard Michaels spoke only Yiddish until he was five, and still found its traces in his English language writing. Belgian-born Luc Sante loved his French Tintin and his Sartre, but only in English could he find “words of one syllable” that evoke American bars and... more
Recommended by Lane Greene, and 1 others.

Lane GreeneThis is a series of essays by writers, mostly novelists. It’s about the way they approach different languages. All the authors are non-English native speakers who have come to write in English and now predominantly write only in English. It’s different writers telling stories of the interface between the two languages in their own minds, and in their own cultures. So in each case there is a... (Source)

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Here is the captivating story of humankind’s enduring quest to build a better language—and overcome the curse of Babel. Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, Loglan (not to be confused with Lojban), and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries. With intelligence and... more
Recommended by Lane Greene, and 1 others.

Lane GreeneI love this book. People have been inventing languages for hundreds of years. Think of Esperanto, or even the Na’vi language in Avatar. People have been doing this for a really long time and the underlying story – which is a funny, sweet, and sad one – is that many people have felt that existing languages were bad for one reason or another. They fall into two camps. Some people feel their natural... (Source)

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Recommended by Lane Greene, and 1 others.

Lane GreeneThis is a book about words and language and evolution. Christine Kenneally, the author, starts off by describing how, surprisingly enough, this subject was completely ignored by linguistics for a really long time. One of the big official international linguistic bodies in the late 19th century banned all study of the topic, saying that it was unknowable. Even when most intellectuals accepted... (Source)

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Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language —and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"?

Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us...
Recommended by Lane Greene, and 1 others.

Lane GreeneYes – ish. Deustcher does a great job of first taking on those old notions. He goes back to the romantic 20th century ideas, in particular to a writer called Benjamin Lee Whorf. Whorf was an amateur linguist, he was largely self-taught but spent a lot of time doing research on this topic. Whorf famously claimed that the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest did not have a concept of time like... (Source)

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The classic book on the development of human language by the world’s leading expert on language and the mind.

In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received...
Recommended by Simon Baron-Cohen, Lane Greene, and 2 others.

Simon Baron-CohenIt’s a really wonderful example of what you can do: take research into something as fundamental to human nature as language and make it accessible to a wide audience. (Source)

Lane GreeneThere are two achievements in this book. One is to smuggle Linguistics 101 into a popular book, which is just fantastic. The other is his own argument about the nature of language, and the title says it all. (Source)

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