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Episode 1583

Made from Scratch

Enthusiastic book recommendations! Martha’s savoring the biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the 19th-century explorer, polymath, and naturalist who revolutionized our understanding of nature and predicted the effects of human activity on...

Episode 1595

All That and a Bag of Chips

We tend to take the index of a book for granted, but centuries ago, these helpful lists were viewed with suspicion. Some even worried that indexes would harm reading comprehension! A witty new book tells the story. Plus, the Latin term bona fides...

Pronouncing “Bona Fides”

Marianne from Valdosta, Georgia, is stumped about how to pronounce the term bona fides. It means “authentic credentials,” as in literary bona fides, and comes from Latin bona fides, literally “good faith.” In the United...

Episode 1571

When Pigs Fly

Don’t move my cheese! It’s a phrase middle managers use to talk about adapting to change in the workplace. Plus, the origin story of the name William, and why it’s Guillermo in Spanish. And a five-year-old poses a question that...

Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Proofreading Tricks

Proofreading is a skill to be learned, but you can start with tricks like printing out the text, reading aloud, or moving down the page with a ruler, one line at a time. This is part of a complete episode.