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12 Words Coined in Fiction

What do the words robot, chortle and malapropism all have in common?

Answer: they were all coined in fiction.

While fiction authors dazzle us with their ability to conjure fantastic worlds and unforgettable characters, their creativity has often been obstructed by mankind’s limited vocabulary. Hence, fiction authors have had to create their own words.

Many of these “made up” words have faded to obscurity since their first utterance. But, some have become a part of our common vernacular. Take a look at these twelve words and their literary origins – some of them may surprise you.

Literary Origins of Words

BLATANT

[bleyt-nt]

Likely an alteration of the Latin word blatire, meaning “to babble.” The word was coined by Edmund Spencer in his epic poem “The Faerie Queen” published in 1590. In the poem Spencer describes the Blatant Beast, a thousand-tongued monster representing slander.

“The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spencer

Print | eBook | eAudio

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

CHORTLE

[chawr-tl]

Possibly a combination of chuckle and snort. Coined by Lewis Carroll in his iconic poem, “The Jabberwocky” originally published in 1871.

“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.”

“Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

Print | Audio |
eBook | eAudio | DVD

The Annotated Alice : Alice's adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking-glass by Lewis Carroll

GARGANTUAN

[gahr-gan-choo-uh n]

This word comes from the character Gargantua, a giant from Francis Rabelais’ 5 book series “Gargantua and Pantagruel” published between 1693–1694.

“Gargantua and Pantagruel” by Francis Rabelais

Print | eBook | eAudio

Gargantua And Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

MALAPROPISM

[mal-uh-prop-iz-uh m]

From the character Ms. Malaprop in Sheridan’s “The Rivals” published in 1775, who was known for her comical misuse of complex words.

“The Rivals” by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Print | eBook | eAudio

The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

MENTOR

[men-tawr, -ter]

From the character Mentor who, in Homer’s Odyssey, is entrusted with the care and Teaching of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.

“The Odyssey” by Homer

Print | eBook | eAudio

The Odyssey by Home ; translated by Emily Wilson

NERD

[nurd]

The first instance of this word in print was Dr Seuss’ “If I Ran the Zoo” published in 1950. Here, the word describes an imaginary creature that the narrator of the story wishes to own. Possibly a play on “nert,” a word commonly used in the 1940s to describe eccentric or nutty people.

“If I Ran the Zoo” by Dr. Seuss

PrinteBook

If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss

PANDEMONIUM

[pan-duh-moh-nee-uh m]

In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” published in the year 1667, Pandemonium is the name of the capitol of Hell. The prefix “pan” denotes “all” and “demon” means… “demon.” The word is commonly used to describe utter chaos and confusion.

“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

Print | eBook | eAudio

Paradise Lost by John Milton

ROBOT

[roh-buh t, -bot]

From the Czech word robota meaning “forced labor.” First used in its current form by Karel Čapek in his play “Rossum’s Universal Robots” from 1920.

“Rossum’s Universal Robots” by Karel Čapek

PrinteBook

Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek

SERENDIPITY

[ser-uh n-dip-i-tee]

Coined by the art historian Horace Walpole, inspired by “The Three Princes of Serendip” originally published in Venice in 1557. According to Walpole, he was inspired by the way the princes in the story were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.”

“The Three Princes of Serendip” by Elizabeth Jamison Hodges

Print

The Three Princes of Serendip by Elizabeth Jamison Hodges

STENTORIAN

[sten-tawr-ee-uh n, -tohr-]

Named after Stentor, Greek herald during the Trojan War. Homer’s “Iliad” describes Stentor’s voice as being loud as 50 men. Now the word is used synonymously with “loud.”

“The Iliad” by Homer

PrinteBookeAudio

The Iliad by Homer

TRILBY

[tril-bee]

As in the narrow-brimmed hat often mistaken for a fedora. Named after George du Maurier’s novel Trilby from 1894. The book was adapted to Theatre in 1895, the opening night of which saw many trilby hats on display.

“Trilby” by George du Maurier

PrinteBook | eAudio

Trilby by George Du Maurier

UTOPIA

[yoo-toh-pee-uh]

From the Greek phrase eu-topos, meaning “good place.” The nearly identical ou-topos means “no place” or “nowhere.” It’s no wonder that Thomas More chose “Utopia” as the name for the fictional island society in his 1516 book of political satire.

“Utopia” by Thomas More

PrinteBookeAudio

Utopia by Thomas More
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10 Best Fiction Books of 2018

Working in a Library has perks, because as a librarian I’m able to browse books on my lunch break. The challenge is trying to carry them out at the end of the day and then find time to read them all. And believe it or not, people often ask me “what do you do all day? Read? Wouldn’t that be great? Leisurely reading all day long would be a dream job for any avid reader. And yes, some people do get paid to read and review books. I have often wondered what that would be like. But surely finding a way to provide a balanced review for a variety of books has its own set of challenges.

Dream jobs aside, finding a good book can be challenging if you don’t know which sources to trust. After all, there are so many “best books” and “top reads” and “notable lists” floating out there on the internet. So, here’s what I try to do … stick with trusted resources that consistently provide balanced reviews.

Here are my top 7 go-to “best books of the year” resources:

  1. BookPage
  2. Goodreads
  3. Kirkus Reviews
  4. Library Journal
  5. The New York Times
  6. NPR
  7. Publisher’s Weekly

And yes, there are many other fantastic resources out there, but these are just some of the ones I consistently enjoy reading. Based on what these sources are recommending, the list below includes ten notable general fiction books well-worth checking out. As always, it goes without saying that the “best books” are ultimately a matter of opinion. So, if the selections below do not appeal to you, explore some of the other “best books of the year” lists or use our Give 3 Get 3 service to receive more personalized recommendations.

Notable General Fiction Books of 2018

Circe : a novel by Madeline Miller
Still Me : a novel by Jojo Moyes
There There : a novel by Tommy Orange
An American Marriage : a novel by Tayari Jones
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

1. Circe by Madeline Miller

Follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.

2. Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark arrives in New York to start a new life and a long-distance relationship with Ambulance Sam while working for the super-wealthy Gopniks, a job that introduces her to New York high society and a secretive man who reminds her of her own past.

3. There There by Tommy Orange

A novel that grapples with the complex history and identity of Native Americans follows twelve characters, each of whom has private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow.

4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

When her new husband is arrested and imprisoned for a crime she knows he did not commit, a rising artist takes comfort in a longtime friendship only to encounter unexpected challenges in resuming her life when her husband’s sentence is suddenly overturned.

5. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Overstory : a novel by Richard Powers
Virgil Wander : a novel by Leif Enger
You Think It, I'll Say It : Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

When her father impulsively moves the family to mid-1970s Alaska to live off the land, young Leni and her mother are forced to confront the dangers of their lack of preparedness in the wake of a dangerous winter season.

7. The Overstory by Richard Powers

A novel of activism and natural-world power presents interlocking fables about nine remarkable strangers who are summoned in different ways by trees for an ultimate, brutal stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

8. Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

Emerging from an accident with damaged memories and compromised language skills, Virgil Wander, a movie-house owner from a small Midwestern town, pieces together his story and the story of his community with help from affable locals.

9. You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Presents a collection of ten short stories that feature both new and previously published pieces, including “The World Has Many Butterflies,” in which married acquaintances play an intimate game, with devastating consequences.

10. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.


This is part of a series of blog posts highlighting some of the best books of the year. If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like …

10 Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2018

10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2018

10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2018

10 Best Business Books of 2018

10 Best Biographies of 2018

 

More Best Books of 2018 Lists

These lists are well-worth exploring … they include books with a wide-range of appeal, offering readers with a wonderful variety of selections.

The Best Books of 2018 (So Far) – Esquire

The Best Books Of 2018 We Can’t Wait To Read This Year – The Refinery

Best Books of 2018: Across Fiction, Politics, Food and More – The Guardian

The 30 Best Fiction Books Of 2018 – Bustle

The Best Books of 2018 – The New Yorker

The Best Books of 2018 – Real Simple

Best Books of 2018 – Amazon

The Best Books of 2018 So Far – Powell’s Books

Lit Hub’s Favorite Books of 2018 – Literary Hub

The 19 Best Books of 2018 (So Far) – Elle

 

Originally posted by April S. on ToledoLibrary.org/blog/10-best-fiction-books-of-2018

 

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Weird But True: This Lesser Known Fiction Genre is Making A Comeback

When it comes to your leisure reading, are you looking for something a little different? Perhaps you enjoy elements of the supernatural and fantastical but are tired of the same old clichés of most genre fiction? Why not give Weird Fiction a try!

Weird fiction is characterized primarily by its blending of science fiction, fantasy, horror and just about every other fiction genre to create something entirely new. The name “weird fiction” was coined by H.P. Lovecraft in a 1927 essay titled “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” which sought a division between traditional horror at the time and Lovecraft’s own work. The genre has since grown further apart from its close connection with horror and has become an umbrella term for books that can’t easily be placed in any other category.

If you’re new to weird fiction, below you’ll find some great reads to get you started. Keep in mind that nearly all weird fiction still contains some elements of horror, so if you tend to be squeamish these may not be the books for you.

Weird Fiction Books

The Wine-Dark Sea by Robert Aickman (book)
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories by Laird Barron
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington / Leonora Carrington ; introduction by Kathyrn Davis ; translations from the French by Kathrine Talbot ; translations from the Spanish by Anthony Kerrigan

 

The Wine-Dark Sea by Robert Aickman

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.13

“In these 11 stories, the occasion may be a walking tour of Northern England, a birthday present of a Victorian dollhouse or a stay at a Swedish sanatorium for insomniacs, but it simultaneously traps the characters with dread and opens them up to a new awareness of a greater, deeper and more dangerous world. A remarkable collection by an author who deserves to be better known.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.02

“Barron returns with his third collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. Collecting interlinking tales of sublime cosmic horror, including “Blackwood’s Baby,” “The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven,” and the World Fantasy Award–nominated “Hand of Glory,” The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All delivers enough spine-chilling horror to satisfy even the most jaded reader.” ~ Amazon

 

Weaveworld by Clive Barker

Amazon: 4.6 | Goodreads| 4.13

“Barker turns from his usual horror to epic-length fantasy for this account of the Fugue, a magical land inhabited by descendants of supernatural beings who once shared the earth with humans. The Fugue has been woven into a carpet for protection against those who would destroy it; the death of its guardian occasions a battle between good and particularly repulsive evil forces for control of the Fugue. Weaveworld is rich with memorable characters, exciting situations, and pockets of Barker’s trademark horror.” ~ Goodreads

 

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 3.9

“Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted – and still wants – to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Complete Stories of Lenora Carrington with an introduction by Kathyrn Davis

Amazon: 3.6 | Goodreads: 4.25

“Published to coincide with the centennial of her birth, The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington collects for the first time all of her stories, including several never before seen in print. With a startling range of styles, subjects, and even languages (several of the stories are translated from French or Spanish), The Complete Stories captures the genius and irrepressible spirit of an amazing artist’s life.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Windeye by Brian Evenson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Fisherman by John Langan

 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 4.02

“From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.” ~ Amazon

 

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 4.13

House of Leaves is a multilayered intersection of wild ideas, ten years in the making, from Mark Danielewski. It is also the story of a seemingly normal house gone wild. The novel intertwines the narratives of two haunted individuals: Zampano, a blind man whose strange manuscript is found in his apartment when he dies, and Johnny Truant, the tome’s discoverer and narrator of House of Leaves.” ~ Fantastic Fiction

 

Windeye by Brian Evenson

Amazon: 4.3 | Goodreads: 4.03

“A woman falling out of sync with the world; a king’s servant hypnotized by his murderous horse; a transplanted ear with a mind of its own. The characters in these stories live as interlopers in a world shaped by mysterious disappearances and unfathomable discrepancies between the real and imagined. Brian Evenson, master of literary horror, presents his most far-ranging collection to date, exploring how humans can persist in an increasingly unreal world. Haunting, gripping, and psychologically fierce, these tales illuminate a dark and unsettling side of humanity.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.89

“First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Fisherman by John Langan

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 4.01

“When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.” ~ Goodreads

 

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

 

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Amazon: 4.4 | Goodreads: 3.91

“People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there. Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. . But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping. A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?” ~ Amazon

 

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.97

“A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader’s imagination.” ~ Amazon

 

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Amazon: 3.9 | Goodreads: 3.55

“Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami’s wild imagination. The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated, in full color, throughout, this small format, 96 page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages.” ~ Goodreads

 

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Amazon: 4.1 | Goodreads: 3.94

“From the author of the Southern Reach Trilogy (aka: Area X) comes a story about two humans, and two creatures. The humans are Rachel and Wick – a scavenger and a drug dealer – both with too many secrets and fears, ready with traps to be set and sprung. The creatures are Mord and Borne – animal, perhaps plant, maybe company discard, biotech, cruel experiment, dinner, deity, or source of spare parts.” ~ Provided by the publisher

 

Still not sure where to start?

Weird fiction anthologies will give you the opportunity to sample the work of various weird fiction authors and see what most interests you.

If you’re feeling brave, try the work of authors like Thomas Ligotti, Kathe Koja, Jon Padgett, Michael Cisco and so many others in the following collections.

 

The Year's Best Weird Fiction - Volume One edited by Laird Barron

The Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume One edited by Laird Barron

Amazon: 4.2 | Goodreads: 3.92

“Welcome to the weird! Acclaimed author and editor Laird Barron, one of weird fiction’s brightest exponents, brings his expert eye and editorial sense to the inaugural volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction.” ~ Goodreads

Also available in eBook (hoopla).

 

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Amazon: 4.25 | Goodreads: 4.13

The Weird features 110 stories by an all-star cast, from literary legends to international bestsellers to Booker Prize winners: including William Gibson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Franz Kafka, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Haruki Murakami, M. R. James, Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake, and Michael Chabon. “ ~ Goodreads

Jeff Vandermeer, author of the bestselling Area X Trilogy (which is being adapted to film in 2018) and editor of numerous Weird Fiction anthologies, describes what makes Weird Fiction a genre that is greater than the sum of its parts:

Here, in what is actually our infancy of understanding the world—this era in which we think we are older than we are—it is cathartic to seek out and tell stories that do not seek to reconcile the illogical, the contradictory, and often instinctual way in which human beings perceive the world, but instead accentuate these elements as a way of showing us as we truly are. Unruly. Unruled. Superstitious. Absurd. Subject to a thousand destabilizing fears and hopes.


Want to learn more about Weird Fiction?

The Weird: An Introduction – Weird Fiction Review

Weird Fiction – Goodreads

A Beginner’s Guide to the New Weird Genre – Book Riot

Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Juliette H. at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/weird-but-true-this-lesser-known-fiction-genre-is-making-a-comeback.

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