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The Liar's Dictionary
The Liar's Dictionary: A Novel | Eley Williams
35 posts | 30 read | 47 to read
An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel from a prize-winning new talent which chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world. Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement. Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter 'S' for Swansby's multi-volume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorised fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitised. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of 'marriage' really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby's staff to 'burn in hell'? As these two narratives combine, both Winceworth and Mallory discover how they might negotiate the complexities of the often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn and undefinable path we call life. An exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer, The Liar's Dictionary celebrates the rigidity, fragility, absurdity, and joy of language.
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review
jen_the_scribe
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Mehso-so

This book has a bit of a slow start, and I wasn‘t too keen on the constant interruptions of the actual story in the way of definitions. However, there was a lot I really liked about it too. The characters were charming, the prose was amusing, and the style unique. There were quite a few moments were I literally laughed out loud. I respect the profound way in which the author denotes the beauty in simplicity.

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jen_the_scribe
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Another day in the parent pick up line and another moment to read. This is certainly a different style than anything I‘ve read before, but it‘s amusing.

emz711 I did the audiobook. Was ok 2mo
jen_the_scribe @emz711 Yeah, I can imagine. I‘m not sure if I‘d enjoy this one as an audiobook with all the definitions pausing the prose. It‘s a little disorienting to even read it as such. 2mo
18 likes2 comments
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jen_the_scribe
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Up next…

Hazel2019 What a great cover 😍 2mo
jen_the_scribe @Hazel2019 I think so too! 2mo
12 likes1 stack add2 comments
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kathedron
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Pickpick

I loved it until I didn't. 😞 It's like the Lindt chocolate shop but for word-nerds. I loved EW's playfulness with language but I wanted more than confectionery. Some of the plot points came randomly from nowhere, and I still don't get what Sofia's character was all about. And the pelican?
It's good enough for a ⭐⭐⭐ pick, but I'm frustrated that it didn't deliver on its promise.

Lindy Too bad it didn‘t work for you as well as it did for me. I was utterly charmed & I felt more and more engaged as it went on, with the single eventful day in each of the two timelines. 4mo
50 likes1 stack add1 comment
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rachelsbrittain
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Pickpick

A wonderful book for the word obsessed. In the late 1800s a lexicographer for an encyclopedic dictionary creates fake definitions to pass the time and in present day a woman attempts to find the false entries while fielding threatening calls.

57 likes6 stack adds
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rachelsbrittain
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Reading snuggles

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rachelsbrittain
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My favorite kind of Saturday night

LoverOfLearning I love your drink in the corner 😂 great way to relax! Enjoy! 10mo
mdemanatee 💯 10mo
57 likes3 comments
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rachelsbrittain
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1. The Liars Dictionary, Count Your Lucky Starland, and The Mannington Witches

2.Travelers Along the Way

3. I'm visiting my 95 year old grandmother in Virginia next weekend!

#WeekendReads

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rachelsbrittain
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Saturday reading

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BeeMagical
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Bailedbailed

Book 88🎧
I got about 60% of the way in and still had no idea what was going on😵‍💫
The back and forth between the two characters and their time gets jumbled and hard to keep track of.

I really wanted to like this one because even through the confusion, I did like the vocabulary presented☹️

Maybe I will try to finish it before it returns, I hate not finishing something I‘ve started! but for now it‘s time to move on! ⏩

Kimberlone The audio also confused me and I didn‘t finish either 10mo
BeeMagical @Kimberlone I‘m glad to know I wasn‘t the only one!😵‍💫 10mo
18 likes2 comments
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ozma.of.oz
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After the doctor‘s today, I decided I deserved a treat. So off to the bookstore I went, intending to get one (1!) book.

A miscalculation was made. #NoRegrets #BookHaul

Alfoster Blame the doc!🤣🤣🤣 12mo
Hooked_on_books You did get one book, and it brought 3 friends along. Can you really be held responsible for that?!? 🧐😉 12mo
Clare-Dragonfly You could hardly have been expected to leave The City In the Middle of the Night behind! Soooooo good. (edited) 12mo
booksbrewsandbooze I love your username! 12mo
92 likes1 stack add4 comments
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KarenUK
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Pickpick

#MidYearFaves #Day8 of 10
I‘m a sucker for a book within a book (which this KIND of is….?) I found this completely delightful! As you might expect from a story of two Lexicographers, it is VERY wordy! It‘s erudite, yet silly... full of funny observations, clever wordplay, charming characters and fascinating etymology. In the two time lines, I was imagining Stephen Fry as Winceworth and Sandy Toksvig as Mallory-humor and smarts in perfect harmony.

BarbaraBB Another one to remember! 12mo
squirrelbrain This has been on my radar all year - your review makes me want to read it even more! 12mo
TiminCalifornia I liked this one too! Her collection of short stories is also very good. 12mo
SilversReviews Love this photo!! 12mo
51 likes4 comments
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Branwen
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New week, new book! 💕📚💕 This is actually due back at the library by the end of the week, so I really need to start it and finish it asap! 😃📖 #catsoflitsy #littenkitten #chaplin

Leftcoastzen He‘s just too cute! 13mo
Branwen @Leftcoastzen Thank you! 😻 I love my furry book buddy! 📚 13mo
58 likes2 comments
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Skeeterisme
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Mehso-so

No words (no pun). No idea what this was about. Explanations welcome. (Delicious cover)

Palimpsest I started reading this after it was released because I‘m a huge logophile. I mean I have at least a dozen non-fiction books on word origins and rare words. I love etymology and while the word origins were fun I didn‘t like the back and forth time frames and thought some of it was weird like the dog poop scene after the bomb threat. I set it aside after that. It just wasn‘t grabbing my attention. 13mo
56 likes1 comment
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Nebklvr
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Panpan

The characters were intellectually interesting but would never be mistaken for real people. Only one character in the whole book had any reason or motive for his actions. There isn‘t much of a plot. At times vaguely amusing but overall felt it was just a stage to showcase the author‘s intelligence. I trudged through but there was no payoff.

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AnneCecilie
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Pickpick

Mallory is working as an intern for Swansby‘s New Encyclopedic Dictionary. Until the day her boss asks her into his office, she has assumed that her job is to answer the threatening phone call every day. Then he tells her that he has found mountweazels (fake words) in the dictionary and it is her job to find them before they digitize the dictionary.

At the same time we follow one of the young men working on the dictionary back in 1899.

60 likes2 stack adds
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Nebklvr
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I hope this gets better. I know the author is smart. They have dragged every obscure word out to cram into the story. I don‘t know if they can tell a story. Haven‘t read anything else by Williams so I have no idea if this is likely to improve.

Kimberlone I tried listening to the audiobook but couldn‘t connect. There was a kindle deal awhile back so I grabbed a copy and hoping to give it another chance soon. I have a feeling that a book about books might work better if I can see the words. 13mo
Nebklvr @Kimberlone I have a print copy but am just not connecting yet but only 50 pages in. 13mo
34 likes2 comments
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monalyisha
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Winceworth‘s longing for a small, white-washed seaside cabin, & his dream of “peacefulness on my own little underlooked stretch of the world” resonates.

Here‘s some daydream fodder:

https://www.boredpanda.com/isolated-lonely-houses/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=...

Which is your favorite?

Lizpixie Oh I could definitely live in any of them! Especially No‘s 1-5 but honestly, any with snow or mist with a wood fire, snuggly blankets & a huge library & I‘ll be in heaven😇 14mo
54 likes1 comment
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monalyisha
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An example of Williams‘s absurd humor:

“Winceworth often had cause to remember a textbook from his school days filled with grammar exercises and tables. One page required students to rank the following verbs according to their pace: jaunt, stride, amble, lumber, strut, patrol, plod, prance, run, saunter, shamble, stroll, and traipse.”

Just try to put them in order. It‘s utterly ridiculous. 😅

Smrloomis 😂😂😂 14mo
Clare-Dragonfly I think that kind of sounds like fun 😅 Get some index cards or some post-it notes… 14mo
monalyisha @Clare-Dragonfly Oh, I spent some time. 😆 But a lot of my decisions were arbitrary & thus easily contestable. If you do it, let me know. We can compare lists. 🤓 (edited) 14mo
56 likes3 comments
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monalyisha
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Pickpick

I always *think* I love language...until I read something like this, or The Grammarians, & then I realize that I don‘t know the half of it. 😅 This is kind-of a weird one, tbh, & I wasn‘t sure how I felt about it. But now that I‘ve had a minute, I feel confident saying that I really enjoyed it! It‘s *absurdly* funny, & smart, & ultimately touching, too! It‘s about the power (& failure) of words; ambition; secrets; & love. Also, belligerent birds.

79 likes6 stack adds
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readingjedi
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Panpan

Expected to love this but I really didn't like it at all. The cleverness of it soon got cloying & tiresome & the plot was sadly lacking. I found it self-indulgent & not even vaguely amusing. At times it veered into borderline gibberish. It's like it was trying too hard to be quirky & ended up being irritating & weird. Though everyone else seems to love it, so I guess it's just me 🤷🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

DogEaredBooks I had the exact same thoughts/feelings about this. I was so hoping to love it too! 1y
Nebklvr Yes!!! Waste of money. 13mo
89 likes1 stack add2 comments
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readingjedi
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Looking forward to starting this one tonight. Reviews are good and it's meant to be funny - I could do with a good laugh 😅

With thanks to #netgalley for this book.

DogEaredBooks Love that cover! 1y
83 likes1 stack add1 comment
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j9brown
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Pickpick

Very enjoyable! The characters were charming, and I loved all the word-y details. ☺️
Not sure I really understood the end, but I was also pretty unfocused, so it might just be me.

KatieDid927 Cute pic! 1y
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TiminCalifornia
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Pickpick

Funny and smart and not at all what I expected. Not that I had specific expectations going in, still, this almost defies categorization. However, if you love words (and what reader doesn't) I highly recommend this. A definite pick. There is a queer (f/f) relationship in the story but it's not really a central plot point, just interestingly there.

Recommend this one as an audiobook. Longer review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3924478068

35 likes1 stack add
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Redwritinghood
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Pickpick

This was such a fun, charming, and delightful book. It is a dual-timeline story about two lexicographers and how their lives eventually intersect. Lovely writing and clever wordplay, as well as endearing characters and a cat named ‘Tits‘. Not completely happy with the ending, but it didn‘t dampen my enjoyment of the book overall. 4⭐️

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wen4blu
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I‘m not always sure where this story is going, but the definitions are entertaining.

36 likes1 stack add
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Kimberlone
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New audiobook started today!

Crazeedi Great cover! 1y
69 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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bookish_wookish
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I have a feeling all my library holds are going to come in at the same time!

wen4blu Mine always do that! 1y
RamsFan1963 I had 3 come on the same day this week, even though Libby said 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 6 weeks respectively. 1y
bookish_wookish Theyre both 2 week loans so the pressure is on! @wen4blu @RamsFan1963 1y
43 likes3 comments
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Therewillbebooks
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Pickpick

We just released our newest episode! We discuss babies, sneaking food into movie theaters, choose a new seasonal read for the winter months, and review The Liar's Dictionary. Enjoy!

https://open.spotify.com/show/6A6hXZ7eaOG7BtHOSJpCTI

75 likes4 stack adds
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NotoriousMBG
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Pickpick

Excellent for word nerds! I loved this book. It bounces between two stories that take place roughly 100 years apart. The first is the story of a lexicographer in the Victorian era who feels overlooked in life and places numerous fake entries in the dictionary at the publishing house he works at. (More in the comments - I promise no spoilers) 😊

NotoriousMBG The second story follows an intern working at that same publisher, who has been tasked with rooting out the false entries before the dictionary is digitized. There‘s a lot more here, but I don‘t want to spoil it. Truly a fun read! 1y
5 likes1 comment
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KarenUK
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Pickpick

Completely delightful! As you might expect from a story of two Lexicographers, it is VERY wordy but just so much fun! It‘s erudite, yet silly... full of hilarious observations, clever wordplay, and charming characters. Full of fascinating etymology, I was imagining Stephen Fry as Winceworth and Sandy Toksvig as Mallory - humor and smarts in perfect harmony. It‘s a book to savor every wonderful word. Loved it.
#pop21 #advanced #afreebookfromyourtbr

Cinfhen Ohhhh!!! What a fabulous review ❤️ 1y
squirrelbrain Sounds wonderful - stacked! 1y
See All 6 Comments
LiteraryinLawrence Your review sold me! Stacked! 1y
Lcsmcat Love the cover! 1y
Kalalalatja It sounds kinda fun! 😄 1y
63 likes7 stack adds6 comments
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BookwormM
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Pickpick

#Netgalley #ARC #LiarsDictionary #UnpopularOpinion

I liked this book when based on the description I should have loved it. Unfortunately for me the characters felt flat and unlikeable.

I loved learning new words and the definitions of the fake words.

Full review here www.thereadersroom.org

Dinner beef curry very yummy and easy to make

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BookwormM

#BFC21 first week done and goals achieved. Managed to read 3 books instead of 2 and have lost 2 of the 3lbs I put on over Christmas 🎉🎉

How is everyone else doing?

wanderinglynn Way to go! 🙌🏻 1y
UwannaPublishme 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 1y
41 likes2 comments
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Graciouswarriorprincess
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I love getting a new monthly @BookPage ! I can spend hours adding books to my TBR piles and placing holds at the library.

Aims42 I miss getting a copy when I visited my library in person 😢 I‘m too much of a chicken to ask the librarian who brings out my books for curbside pickup if they could give me a copy 😆 1y
Graciouswarriorprincess @Aims42. I asked several months ago and now they leave on the table for curbside pickup. I would ask them! 1y
Aims42 @Graciouswarriorprincess Awesome!! I will 👍🏻 1y
Graciouswarriorprincess @Aims42 Crossing fingers. Let me know! 1y
60 likes1 stack add4 comments
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ralexist
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Pickpick

This dual narrative novel bounces between Winceworth, a Victorian lexicographer who feels unappreciated at work & begins to add his own words to a dictionary, & Mallory, modern-day intern, who upon discovering Winceworth's additions, must now verify every word. While this book will delight any lover of the English language, it's more about 2 people in 2 points in time struggling between the perception of themselves and who they actually are.