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Monday, 16 September 2013

Book Review of English Bites!

Book: English Bites!

Author: Manish Gupta

Price: Rs. 250

Publisher: Penguin Books India

English is a funny language! So, Manish Gupta, the banker-turned-author, thought to make people learn & retain English vocabulary in a quirky way and not by rote.

When I came to know that the author is willing to give his book, through a dear friend Manjulika Pramod; I left a mail immediately in the inbox of the writer, and within two days the book was on my hand.

This lexical fiction has been told through anecdotes of his own life experiences where he has been in this journey to get the nuances of English since childhood days. Yes! You got it right. He is continuing his drive to bring out another book for the abecedarian (or even the proficient one) to get the best of the international language.

Any language is a vast place to learn, and it’s not feasible to retain every word. Here, this book comes to your rescue to get meanings, synonyms, contronyms, pronunciation, and origin of words through the methodology of etymology, mnemonic, and references to the websites and books which helped him achieve this command. He amazes you with the painstaking research of words he went through, and inspires you to do the same. 

I loved his poetic endeavors to make us retain the words in a beautiful way.              
One of them is here: A placid fellow with a complacent look
         tried hard to placate the implacable cook.  

The only thing which stings me is the railroad joke (page no. 108) he shared with his readers. It seems like an item song in a film like Madras Café. I wish it would have been omitted.

When I got this book with a gratitude note by the author, it made me little apprehensive about the book.  There it was written “Thanks very much” which is grammatically wrong. You may write ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you very much’ either of them, but the marriage isn’t on the cards. So, I decided to give full attention to every single word elaborated as a footnote by the author. Often, a slight misconstruction in a meaning brings out a different picture to the world.  But, later I didn’t find any other fault except one! The word ‘trivia’. Trivia means: things with little importance; small things/information having no significance. It’s meaning isn’t confined to just ‘small things’. In my opinion, minute details should be given heed while writing a self-help book, and shouldn’t be considered trivia which might otherwise bring disrepute.

But, that doesn’t undermine his book, because there is much more to learn. You are going to learn words without vowels like: cwm, lynx, cyst, etc., and words with maximum letters like: hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.  To get the meanings of all bold letters you shall have to buy this book.  

My suggestion shouldn’t be taken as insinuation. I don’t claim to be the master of the language. I’m still learning; so if anyone of you wants to leave any feedback, I warmly welcome you.


  1. Hey nice review!!! I missed the book...

  2. Oh! This books surely has some difficult words. As usual your review is honest.

    1. Thanks for your love and support, Saru! :)

  3. Dear Gayatri,

    I thank you for consenting to review my book, reading it so meticulously, and sharing your detailed feedback with me and the readers of your blog. I am glad that you found it useful and interesting and that you wholeheartedly recommend it to your readers. What more can a freshly minted author ask?

    I have noted your feedback on the railroad joke. I had confessed about the average quality of the joke in the book itself and decided to include it to illustrate a situation where embarrassment (due to inability to comprehend a joke) can improve your retention of the meaning of the difficult word (CANISTER) that made it incomprehensible. I will surely work on replacing this one with a joke that invites and deserves a full-throated laughter. If you have any interesting examples, kindly share them with me. I shall include them with due acknowledgement of the contributor.

    I need your help to understand where in the book have I defined the word TRIVIA or even insinuated that it means 'small things’. I completely agree with you that minute details cannot be ignored and can bring disrepute to an otherwise good effort and hence need to understand where have I inadvertently conveyed this impression to my dear readers and reviewers.

    I also need your help to correct one word in the poetic expression that you have graciously exemplified in your blog.

    The last word in his rhyme (as used in the book) is "cook" and not "look" and hence, these 2 lines should read:

    "A placid fellow with a complacent look
    tried hard to placate the implacable cook."

    I am counting on your support to spread the good word about the book esp. when people ask you for recommendation on books to improve their language. And I am sure, given your background and the accomplishments in this field, there are just so many of them who keep seeking your guidance.

    I thank you once again for taking time out for reading and reviewing my book.

    Best regards,
    Manish Gupta
    Facebook Page:
    Twitter: @English_Bites

    1. Hello Sir,

      Thanks for bringing my mistakes to notice. You are correct with that that “learn for” and “feasible enough” aren’t correct expressions. So, I have made the corrections.

      As far as the term “Trivia” is concerned, I believe, if you are writing a book which is all about vocabulary building, any word which brings a wrong sense- isn’t a great sign. I think, on page no. 128 : “The art of branding blended very well with my taste in English and associated trivia, and I started researching on……..”, you must be trying to convey your love for small and significant things associated with English. But, here the term “trivia” brings out a different meaning.

      I didn’t point out anything wrong with the term “insinuation”.

      Hope, it would help you!

      I wish that our conversation go a long way as it is fruitful when we get a friend who may help us improve. I am still learning, and if you may help me somehow I would be very grateful to you.

      Good luck!


  4. Replies
    1. Hey, Manjulika! Thank you very much! :)


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