I Wrote A Book

About eight years ago, my husband and I redid the kitchen in our apartment. Our apartment is not the biggest, and our kitchen is similarly minuscule, and you’d think that this would make a renovation manageable but it did not. If anything, it just served to emphasize how much work needed to be done. Every nail in the floor that needed to be pulled; every warped layer of drywall to saw through; every floorboard that needed to be repaired was a gargantuan undertaking, because there was literally no room for it to be lost in. We spent Saturdays and late nights on our knees with nail-pulls, and then on ladders with sanders, and then on our knees again with sanders, then getting exuberant with sledgehammers. We became experts at microwave cooking; I had vivid, yearning dreams about washing dishes in a sink.

We finished and began moving back into the kitchen the dishes, the food, the microwave, the old coffeemaker which was on its last legs, the new coffee grinder because we killed the old one making deathwish-strength espresso to power through late nights. And once it was all put back together, we were so exhausted and sick of being in the kitchen that we ordered pizza and ate it on the couch. Then we did it again. We had a new kitchen and were absolutely done with kitchens.

But one morning, I stumbled into the kitchen to make my morning cup of deathwish and was literally stopped short, because for the first time in months, I really noticed how much we had done on the kitchen, and it was all great. It all struck me at once, and I wandered in a (very tight) circle, admiring drawer pulls, the counter, the double-sink, the sink sprayer. When my husband came in to get some coffee, he found his very happy and slightly deranged wife standing in the middle of the room, beaming. “I love this kitchen!” I chirped. “Look at it! Look at everything we did!”

Guys: look! Look at it! Look at everything I did:


This is my book: now called Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, it’s available for (frickin’) preorder (YOU GUYS) at several different places, even! Order it from Penguin Random House here, or, if you’d prefer, get it at Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, or iBooksWord by Word will be released on March 14, 2017, and that is still the most surreal sentence I will ever write in my tiny, narrow life.

I’m sure you have questions. For instance, now that I am an authoress, will I abandon the blog and go hang out with Raymond Carver’s ghost instead? No. I find, after a long break, that I still have words and thoughts on words left over. You can expect me to blather in your general direction with more regularity.

What about book signings? Will I autograph copies? Where am I reading? Is there a launch party and will you be invited? IS YOUR NAME IN THE BOOK, OMG OMG OMG? Those are all excellent questions, but I am not going to answer them here on my blog. Let’s be honest: you come here for the witty commentary on what a gorgeous bastard English is, not for me to go over all Jonathan Franzen on you. So I have started up a newsletter, where you can get information about my book: where I’ll be reading from it, where I’ll be signing it, which bookstores I’ve left vandalized secretly autographed copies of that dumb book in, and all the public places you may accost me for a selfie or signed copy of the book. My newsletter will include all the best words, I guarantee it. Please sign up! Yes, even you, Kevin.

Thank you all for hanging in there through the radio silence. This is going to be fun.





Filed under book

28 responses to “I Wrote A Book

  1. What can I say but, “Yay you!”

  2. I really hope Kevin likes your book.

  3. Woo! I can’t wait to read it. And I love the title and cover. Huge congrats, Kory.

  4. davidly

    Sincere congrats! (and a sly ixnay on the on our knees with anderssay).

  5. Rusty Shackelford

    Congrats Kory!!! You rock!

  6. This makes me very happy in several ways!

  7. Deb Gann

    Kudos Kory! Can’t wait to read it!

  8. Erika R.

    Excellent. I’ve already sent the Free Library of Philadelphia an “Author Event” suggestion.

    • Kory Stamper

      [thumbs-up emoji]

      • Andree Dumermuth

        Thoroughly enjoyed your book – so glad you wrote it and shared your word-world with the reading public – a real gem! One quick question: I noticed on page 241 a passing reference to “Unruh” as a name and the comment that in Old English it means “smooth”… I found that so interesting, because in modern German “unruhe” means unease/unsettled/anxiety”…. (pretty much the opposite). Is that a case like the one you described in the context of ravel/unravel and the regardless/possibly evolving “irregardless” case wherein a negative-opposite flip seems to occur? I am making the (perhaps erroneous) assumption that Old English has some Germanic/Saxon base? Would love to get your thoughts on this minor but I think interesting matter.

  9. I need a bigger ‘like’ button! Congratulations!

  10. Y

    I’m going to read it, and I haven’t even read any Raymond Carver.
    So, lexicographer you, how exactly do you use “YOU GUYS”? More than a mere pronoun, it conveys… I don’t know. Tell me.

  11. “I’m sure you have questions. For instance, now that I am an authoress, will I abandon the blog and go hang out with Raymond Carver’s ghost instead?”

    Surely not. You will provide blog comments every five months, just like before. See you in January.

    Congrats. Warning. You have to be “a human” to sign up to the newsletter. Or, at least pretend you are.

  12. Jenny Fanelli

    Quite possibly the best news of the day!!

  13. Christine Ennulat

    Yay! I learned about you, I snorted your blog from the first post, and then you … stopped. Twitter’s been entertaining but less satisfying. So glad the flow will revive (and the book is coming! Woot!).

    Also, Fungible Synonyms is my new hair band name.

  14. biggscott

    Q’apla! That is awesome, wordsmith! Congrats on the book. But I was intrigued by your kitchen anecdote. How does one renovate a property they don’t own? If you are renting, all that should fall on the landlord. Is the landlord a bum? Whenever you leave that apartment, you will’ve lost all that work. You must live in some wacky hyper-liberal state like New York or California. If you do, I’m sorry. Nobody should have to live in those liberal hellholes!

  15. Will you by any chance come to Germany for a reading? Or maybe Switzerland?

  16. Pingback: I Ate’nt Dead | Anthimeria Rampant

  17. Trisha

    OMG OMG OMG. Finally almost here! =) So happy for you.

  18. love to read this, though late

  19. Pingback: Book News, Kory News, And No Political News Whatsoever | harm·less drudg·ery

  20. Kays

    Hi Kory,
    I discovered you today while I was listening to NPR. Your observations were so spot on. Since English is my third language -and I appreciate the empathy you have for us, foreigners- please allow me to share a couple of stories illustrating how English could be tricky. One day I heard a colleague say: “the alarm went off, so I had to wake up”. I said to her: “wait a second! you mean the alarm went on, right?” … I could not comprehend how anyone could turn the alarm off when it already went off! Also, comparing English to French, when I was barely learning the basic of the language, I was so confused by the paucity of verbs in English; to clarify my point, take for instance the verb “to pull” (casser [in French]), to pull up (s’arreter), to pull over (se rabattre), to pull away (demarrer), to pull down (demolir), to pull through (s’en sortir)…You get the point. By adding a little something after the verb it completely changes the meaning. It was so hard for me to learn the logic behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this whore of a language! 🙂
    It was a delight hearing about your book and your early experiences.

  21. Tim Root

    Kory, I am a musician, and am astonished at the applications of your book’s discussions to the music world. There are so many gatekeepers in our business, as you well know from your husband’s experience. I am having a blast with this book. Thank you so much! Tim

  22. This just arrived at our public library! Thank you! The cover is fabulous

  23. Heard your interview on Fresh Air, got your book from the library, and took it with me on a trip with my budding linguist (and former 2 time national spelling bee finalist, hence no stranger to dictionaries) niece. She read it first then passed it on to me, and we enjoyed discussing it. I just read the phrase “an onion of suck” and laughed out loud! That could be the name of a band. Well done.

  24. Nick Hobart

    Loved it, Kory….but on page 169, an “on which” seems to be missing – ‘…along the long banked bookshelf each of us has to keep multiple dictionaries open at once.’ Perhaps between ‘bookshelf’ and ‘each’?

    Forgive my casuistry.

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