Being in communications and interested in the written word, I usually get a good crop of language books for Christmas. Last year it was the truly excellent "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss, which is now available in the US.
At the time, I was interested that a book about grammar could prove so popular and said to my wife that I should write one about the origins of English idioms. While there are many dictionaries of this ilk, I’ve always found them somewhat impenetrable, and not really engaging. Well, seems I was beaten to it by Albert Jack’s "Red Herrings and White Elephants" which gives a nice whistle-stop tour.
Not to be outdone, Bloomsbury, the publisher of "Schott’s Original Miscellany", has come out with "The Superior Person’s Third Book of Words" by Peter Bowler. It looks like this was first published in the US in 2001 (and yes there was a first and second), but has only just made the journey across the pond to the UK and been republished in time for Christmas. It’s full of interesting words, but I’m yet to read it, so remain limited to those of less than three syllables like these.