03.23.22
Michael Arndt | Books

Snails & Monkey Tails

Snails & Monkey Tails
SNAILS & MONKEY TAILS by Michael Arndt. Copyright © 2022 by Michael Arndt. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Editor's Note: The following images and text are from Michael Arndt's new book, Snails & Monkey Tails, out now from Harper Collins, and reproduced here with permission of the publisher.

Snails & Monkey Tails

Snails & Monkey Tails

There are countless books that can teach you the alphabet, but almost none that focus on the tiny designs that run interference among the letterforms: those easily overlooked punctuation and typographic symbols. These symbols, as Michael Arndt proves in this beautiful and endlessly fascinating book, are absolutely indispensable to communication: punctuation turns words into sentences and language into meaning. How hard they work! The simple period, for instance, is a tiny dot that not only ends sentences (a role it began playing for Greek orators in the second century bce), but also crucially governs both the digital dot-com universe (in the form of domain names) and the world of finance (ask any accountant who’s ever misplaced a decimal point). And they’re fascinating, too: Did you know the @ symbol—blandly called the “at symbol” by English speakers—has a fantastic name in almost every other language on earth? It’s an elephant trunk in Danish, a little duck in Greek, a strudel in Hebrew, and a cinnamon bun in Swedish. It turns out that each piece of punctuation has its own tale to tell, and together they have found the perfect storyteller in Michael Arndt. This lovely book is a glorious celebration of those little marks that make a big difference. From commas to semicolons, from slashes to asterisks, from guillemets to octothorpes (named, perhaps, after athlete Jim Thorpe), you’ll never look at punctuation the same way again. —Michael Bierut

Snails & Monkey Tails

Snails & Monkey Tails

Snails & Monkey Tails

Snails & Monkey Tails



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