Cherry-Picking

Monday, September 12th, 2011

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? Maybe you’d choose the Bible, or perhaps Shakespeare’s collected works. If you were thinking pragmatically, you might opt for something more practical, like How to Build a Wooden Boat. According to the cover of The Help, however, NPR’s pick for you is…The Help:

Key quote highlighted and underlined
Key quote highlighted and underlined.

This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird…If you read only one book…let this be it.

This blurb would have you believe that NPR thinks that if you can only take one book to that deserted island, you should make it The Help. If you’ve got room for two, maybe consider To Kill A Mockingbird. Or just take a second copy of The Help, in case the first one gets wet or something.

But, soft! What punctuation through yonder sentence breaks? It is the ellipsis, and that review is bullshit. When we track down the original NPR article, it shows us what the actual quote [with emphasis added] was:

If you read only one book this summer, let this be it.

Two little words, and yet a massive change in meaning.


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