A book for a guy who has a picture of the Pope in his office.
February 6, 2009 5:51 PM   Subscribe

A boss-type who has very kind to me at the workplace is leaving. I'd like to give him a book as a token of my appreciation. Suggestions?

He is a conservative Catholic Italian-American and a huge, huge language geek. In fact, we bonded over Oxford commas. No, really. And a lot of the work that I do for him involves proofreading.

Consequently, I've been thinking about Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time by William Safire, but I don't know if he already owns a copy. I also considered Safire's Political Dictionary, which was new last year and which he is therefore less likely to have. However, the size makes me pause. The guy is far, far senior to me, so I don't want to give him a big gift or an expensive one or anything that looks like a textbook or self-help or instruction manual. The gift needs to be clearly in the small, thank-you-so-much-for-your-kindness variety.

As an example of the note that I'm trying to hit, a year ago, another boss-type who had also been a mentor to me was leaving. He'd mentioned that one of the reasons he was looking forward to retiring was that he could finally get caught up on his reading, so I bought a copy of The Uncommon Reader. Small! Light-hearted! Surprise ending that was wonderfully appropriate! It was a huge hit.

Additional points if it's related to law, particularly legal language geekery.
posted by joyceanmachine to Human Relations (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: . . . I swear, I usually do a better job proofreading for him than I did for this post.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:54 PM on February 6, 2009

The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester. My favourite little book about language this year is The Idler's Glossary by Joshua Glenn, introductory essay by Mark Kingwell.
posted by Alex Voyd at 6:24 PM on February 6, 2009

If you think you and he may have too great a chance of overlapping tastes (like, he's got the books you'd think to buy him) a bookshop gift voucher with a couple person suggestions scrawled in a card might do the trick.
posted by tamarack at 6:47 PM on February 6, 2009

I liked Spoken Here .. Travels Among Threatened Languages. A neat book about language and how and why one might live, limp along or die off altogether. You will learn fascinating things like the fact that there are about 6000 languages in use around the world and that most are only spoken by a few people. It's a great read.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:52 PM on February 6, 2009

The Professor and the Madman is a really great book about the creation of the Oxford English dictionary
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:39 PM on February 6, 2009

I'd get him a copy of The King's English by Kingsley Amis:

A Parthian shot from one of the most important figures in post-war British fiction, The King's English is the late Kingsley Amis's last word on the state of the language. More frolicsome than Fowler's Modern Usage, lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary, and brimming with the strong opinions and razor-sharp wit that made Amis so popular--and so controversial--The King's English is a must for fans and language purists.

posted by jamjam at 9:24 PM on February 6, 2009

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