My new column for Visual Thesaurus, "The Namer's Bookshelf," was published today. In it I review six books that make excellent gifts for anyone interested in names: From Altoids to Zima, The Making of a Name, Wordcraft, Predicting New Words, Powerlines, and The Language of Names. Full access is restricted to VT subscribers (still just $19.95 a year!). Here's one of the mini-reviews:
From Altoids to Zima: The Surprising Stories Behind 125 Famous Brand Names. If Steve Jobs had prevailed, the Macintosh computer would have been called the Apple Bicycle. (It's "a bicycle for the mind," Jobs insisted.) Don Fisher wanted to call his clothing store Pants and Discs; his wife convinced him that The Gap (short for "the generation gap") was better. And Twinkies? Their inventor caught sight of a billboard for Twinkle Toe Shoes on his way to a meeting with his boss. Author Evan Morris, the creator of the Word Detective website, covers the odd, the commonplace, and the inscrutable (no one knows where "Oreo" came from) in this dandy little book, organized alphabetically by product category.