Typography (BTT)

Today’s Booking through Thursday:

You may or may not have seen my post at Punctuality Rules Tuesday, about a book I recently bought that had the actual TITLE misspelled on the spine of the book. A glaring typographical error that really (really!) should have been caught. So, using that as a springboard, today’s question: What’s the worst typographical error you’ve ever found in (or on) a book?

The worst single typographical error is difficult for me to answer, since that would require me to have a better memory than I do. 😉 However, I definitely know which book had the worst typographical errors in general! I’ll quote a few pieces of my review here, but feel free to check out the entire Review of Myth, Magic, and Metaphor, a journey into the heart of creativity, by Pat Daly. It’s one of the incredibly rare one-star reviews I’ve ever given out. Here’s a taste of it for you:

Around the time when the author starts talking about mythology and metaphor and symbolism, things get strange. There are comments thrown out that make no kind of logical sense whatsoever, no matter how you look at them. Maybe they made perfect sense in a missing context or with additional information, but as it is they just confuse. If anyone can explain to me what on earth this is supposed to mean, I’ll be very grateful: “The Cherokee Indians have a symbol with a star in the middle. The star has seven points and ends with the number 9!”

This is also about the time when she starts making contradictory statements. For instance, she insists that science and technology require inspiration and creativity to get anywhere (which I agree with), and yet says that the more cognitive society gets, the less creative it gets. These two things seem directly contradictory. She says at one point, “Unlike animals, man had a brain…” Animals don’t have brains? Someone should tell the biologists!

It’s about two-thirds of the way through the book that she starts doing this. There’s even a page on which she repeats the same quote twice in two paragraphs, not to mention a whole bunch of missing, wrong, or weird punctuation marks that confuse the quotes a bit. What, did her editor quit part-way through the book? Or did she just not bother with an editor, and gave up editing it herself part-way through?

Not all of that is typographical—mostly the last part—but you get the idea. Repeating the same quote twice in two paragraphs was one that got me, along with all the odd punctuation. I promise I’m not normally so vicious in my reviews, but this book… this book honestly deserved it.

Edited to add: I almost forgot! My favorite errors, of course, are those that are unintentionally funny, and you tend to get those when someone has trusted their word processor’s spell checker too much. This happened to be the case in a book I finished last night, Nathalie Mallet’s The Princes of the Golden Cage. Really neat premise and plot, but she definitely leaned too hard on the spell-checker. Anyway, the most memorable example of this was the man who “raked” his brain instead of “wracking” it. Ow what a painful image!

Posted in News & Musings, Writing
8 comments on “Typography (BTT)
  1. That book deserves one star ranking. I loved reading the review.


  2. SciFiChick says:

    I was reading a copy of a Kyle XY tie-in novel the other day. There were so many blatant, annoying words out of place and random numbers throughout the book that it was distracting. I about turned around and returned it. But then, I realized some of the “typos” spelled out names and numbers from the tv show. Then I had a “duh” moment when I realized they were supposed to be little “clues” spread throughout the book. But, boy, they were annoying. And held no real secrets.

  3. ScottM says:

    We switched our subscription to Pathfinder when Dragon and Dungeon went online. Unfortunately, three sentences in, Jennifer found her first error. The copy editor in her wouldn’t let it go and she set it aside, largely unread.

  4. heather says:

    gautami: Yeah, I always think about it very hard before trashing a book like that to make sure it truly deserves it. But wow, it did.

    SFC: Ugh, that would annoy the hell out of me. All it would do is pull me out of the story and world and remind me I was reading a book—which is exactly what I don’t want!

    Scott: Oh my. I can understand that! Sometimes I can let it go, but sometimes… I just can’t.

  5. Chris says:

    How did you get through that one? And raking your brain does sound rather painful!

  6. Melody says:

    Oh my! That really sounds bad.

  7. Some mistakes can be quite funny. I always share those with my husband so we can share a chuckle. 🙂 On a different note, my husband came across your blog today while looking at links on a blog discussing World of Warcraft. He mentioned that Errant Dreams participated in Booking Through Thursday too and I exclaimed, “Heather! I know her!” Small world. 🙂

  8. heather says:

    Chris: It was a while ago, so I’m not sure. It might have been because it was so short, or because it had that sort of train-wreck fascination thing going for it.

    Melody: I honestly don’t know how that work could have earned someone a degree in anything related to writing.

    Literary Feline: Yeah, I love the unintentionally funny ones! Hehe, yeah, it really is a small world sometimes! I’ve particularly found that to be the case in relation to Warcraft for some reason, which is odd since it’s such a global phenomenon. F’rinstance, I remember being amazed when I made a bunch of friends on my server and joined their guild only to discover that some of them lived quite close to me. I ended up making some great real life friends out of the deal.

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