Tag: Melissa Mohr

WWW Wednesday

Posted January 7, 2021 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

It’s been a while since I posted one of these here! But I’m trying to be more present again now… So let’s have a reading check-in!

Cover of The Gabriel Hounds by Mary StewartWhat are you currently reading?

Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth. It is… not really my thing; the rambling reflective narration is not working for me. It’s mostly for Postcrossing’s blog, though, so I’m forging my way along, slowly. Presumably the main character is going to care about working with the Norwegian postal service sometime soon.

I’m also partway through rereading The Gabriel Hounds, which I have fond memories of — partially memories of buying it while I was in Italy, my BA graduation present oh these many years ago, and reading it on the train between Naples and Rome.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Holy Shit by Melissa MohrGriffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock, also for Postcrossing’s blog — it never rains but it pours; I’m stocking up blog posts for the next little while in case I come over all contrary and don’t feel like reading anything about postcards/postal systems. (This is bound to happen at some point.) I loved it; it’s a very tactile experience, since it actually contains the letters in actual envelope-like pouches, so you have to carefully slip them out and unfold them. I’m intrigued by the mystery of it.

Before that was Holy Shit, by Melissa Mohr — thank you to whoever recommended me that, though I’ve forgotten who. It was great; the chapter on oath-taking in the Bible was particularly fascinating.

Cover of The Books of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin and Charles VessWhat will you be reading next?

Sadly, it will not be Sabine’s Notebook (the sequel to Griffin & Sabine) because that’s in the post to me, having been only ordered today when I closed Griffin & Sabine on that cliffhanger. As ever, the answer is probably a shrug emoji, though I do want to go back to and finish Monstrous Regiment (Terry Pratchett), and a revisit of A Wizard of Earthsea seems indicated, because it’s a book club book (we all got together and picked our favourite books, then 12 of those got picked out of the hat to serve as prompts for a year of reading) and I still haven’t read the illustrated edition.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – Holy Shit

Posted January 4, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Holy Shit by Melissa MohrHoly Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, Melissa Mohr

Sorry, that really is the title of the book! And it’s kind of central to Mohr’s premise: that there are two axes of swearing, the ‘Holy’ and the ‘Shit’… or the profane and the obscene, or swearing and cursing — however you best see the distinction between “for God’s sake” and “for fuck’s sake”. She sets this up by discussing various different cultures (all familiar to a Western audience), starting with the Romans and Greeks (mostly the Romans), then moving to the development of Judaism and the rising importance of oath-taking… and then round the full circle back to obscenity.

It’s a fascinating history, though it really is brief when you consider the potential scope for investigating swearing throughout history. I found the chapter on the Old Testament Yahweh fascinating — Mohr charts the development of monotheism through the way oaths are taken and the importance of oaths in the Old Testament, and it makes a lot of sense. (Reassuringly, it’s also well-sourced, and includes quotations and examples.)

It was slower-going than I thought, when I look at my reading time records, but I found it very absorbing. My only complaint would be that the ending felt rather abrupt, even with the later postscript (which briefly discusses an analysis of swearing on Twitter). Recommended!

Rating: 4/5

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