Learning through reading

I don’t know about you, but during this pandemic I have read more books electronically than ever. Without book stores or libraries, I have turned to e-books for my fix.

I prefer a paper book, but needs-must. The one thing I do like better about an e-book is the built-in dictionary. If I don’t know a word, I touch my finger and, voilà, there is the definition.

Here are some words I have learned in the past few months, used in a sentence:

glabellar: The smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows. (Now that I’m older, my glabellar is not as smooth as this definition implies.)

synesthesia: A neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. (Some people with synesthesia always see the letter A in the colour red, and when I see I word I don’t know in a book, I see red.)

faffing: [UK informal] To spend time doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the one thing you should be doing. (At a cottage it is easy to spend time faffing around instead of writing blog posts.)

hierophant: A person, especially a priest in ancient Greece, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. (I need a hierophant to help me understand some things in the books I’m reading.)

tricoteuse: A woman who sits and knits, a reference to women who did this at public executions during the French Revolution. (I would be willing to become a tricoteuse during the trial of a writer who uses the word tricoteuse.)

prelapsarian: Characteristic of the time before the fall of man [Editor’s note: they mean people], that is, innocent and unspoiled. (In the prelapsarian Eden, people used non-gender specific language.)

hoaching: Full of or swarming with people. (During this time of pandemic avoid hoaching places.)

How are you reading these days? What have you learned from that experience?

Boy jumping off dock into a lake.
At a cottage it’s easy to spend time faffing around.

6 thoughts on “Learning through reading

  1. Ally Bean

    I was aware of the word “synesthesia” but the other ones are new to me. I like “hoaching” which my spellcheck has changed to “coaching” then “poaching” then “hooting” all of which are not the word I typed.

    My reading has been almost nil lately as I’ve been “faffing.” I need to have a stern talk with myself and get back to reading. I have the time. 🙄

  2. Jennifer Grant

    I would have to say I have spent pretty much all of the pandemic faffing around. Haven’t learned a new skill or language or even baked a single loaf of bread but have read a mighty stack of books so don’t feel my faffing time has been wasted in the least. Just started The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian – first chapter in is pretty good. Keep calm and faff on!

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Ha, ha. That’s going to be my new motto: Keep calm and faff on! I have to say that I’ve done a fair bit of faffing myself, but I have checked some small thing off of lists most days. I’ve digitized my recipes to print them in a book and that kind of thing. My faffing balance has been pretty good. Reading is definitely not faffing, in my opinion. Look how much I learned!

  3. roughwighting

    You are reading much more challenging books than I am! But I love this idea of learning new words while we read. These are fabulous ones and I shall use faffing from now on, daily. I’m always a frequent reader probably with the same amount of books now during the lockdown. One a week at least. Unfortunately paperback books are hard for my eyes so I either read on the Kindle or order a hardback if I know a friend who would like to read the book after I’m done. I am actually teaching a lot of creative writing online during this time so I feel like I never have enough time to “faff”!!

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I have been reading – purely by coincidence – a lot of books by British authors lately. Hence the faffing and the hoaching – British terms. My next book club choice is City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, so an American author is next. I’ll be on the lookout for American words I don’t recognize!


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