UAlberta Virtual Book Club

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Book-lovers unite! (Online, that is.) 

Introducing the UAlberta Virtual Book Club. Connect with an online community to read and discuss a variety of engaging books of genres ranging from novels to memoirs, social justice to personal growth, and more. 

The UAlberta Virtual Book Club is open to all members of the University of Alberta community — alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends — located anywhere in the world. As long as you have an internet connection, a comfortable place to sit and a love of reading, you’re in!

There’s no cost to join, all you need are the books. Whether you borrow a copy from the library, download to your tablet, or buy your own print copy, the format is up to you.

Sign Me Up

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Now Reading | January to March 2024

The Dictionary of Lost Words
by Pip Williams

In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutters to the floor. Esme rescues the slip and stashes it in an old wooden case that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. While she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape the world and our experience of it.


 

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