My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a lovely book. Each short chapter explores the history of a few words around a similar theme, such as the various words coming from the French word for chicken “poulet” (e.g. pool, pot) (which was a game of “chicken” in which the lucky winner took the prize of a pot of pooled money) (the chicken didn’t ever win). Each chapter then links to the next forming an unbroken chain which starts and ends with the word “book” (hence it being a “Circular Stroll”).
I especially liked the words that come from errors, such as why a turkey is called a turkey (a double error about an American poultry bird introduced by the Spanish which they thought was the same as an Asian poultry bird which wasn’t from Turkey either).
As words tend to get invented when they’re needed, exploring the meaning of words is like exploring the history of human culture – I remember thinking the same about Bill Bryson’s excellent book “Made in America” which could have been read as a short history of America.