Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks

Keith Houston


An interesting romp through the lesser-known areas of typography, literature, and language. The author manages to touch on an impressive breadth of content in a book ostensibly about punctuation, perhaps illustrating how language really does affect more of human activity than we might think.

I especially enjoyed the digressions into the emergence of pounds, shillings, and pence (as well as the pound sign). Many characters are treated in enormous detail: the history of the ampersand, for example, which walks the reader through a couple of millennia of language evolution. The hash sign and the interrobang also get star treatment, while the humble dash turns out to have more complexity than even this dedicated LaTeX user was expecting.

Finished on Sun, 26 Jan 2014 08:15:37 -0800.   Rating 4/5.