“To some extent, we are our own text, which is why my mission would be important–erroneous signs confer their blemishes on their very owners” (pp. 12-13).
“…what profits a man if he gain a typo correction but lose the true meaning of the words?” (p. 33).
“I knew about bacteria and nanobots and other infinitesimally small things, but I’d never once thought something could be so big as to be equally invisible to the naked eye” (p. 106).
I really didn’t know what to expect when I cracked open The Great Typo Hunt. Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson’s account of their cross-country mission to correct as many typos as possible, I thought that this book could go either way: boring log of typos and a few grammar lessons or riveting account of how and why typos happen, and why anyone cares. Luckily, Deck and Herson didn’t disappoint in the least. In fact, The Great Typo Hunt has landed on my “must read” list as one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read.
The premise of the book is as follows: Deck wants to drive around the United States fixing typos, but he needs help. Driving thousands of miles by oneself is certainly not fun, especially if the activity is peppered with encounters that require you to tell people they have made mistakes on their signage. He recruits Herson, another friend named Josh, and his girlfriend, Jane, who each agree to accompany him on different legs of his journey. As they drive and fix typos, though, Deck and co. don’t simply break out the “elixir of correction” and call it a day. Deck and Herson, in particular, contemplate the nature of their journey and what, if anything, their efforts are contributing to society.
There are two things I love equally about this book: its tone and the fact that it considers topics of importance. Deck and Herson are hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Prone to hyperbole and a great deal of bravado, they mix equal parts self-mockery and serious typo hunting to create an entertaining and informative story (I, for one, have certainly been double checking my apostrophe usage more often). But while they travel, they think about more than just correcting misspelled words and erasing unnecessary punctuation–they delve into the subject of communication and how their journey reflections on the ability and willingness of people to communicate with one another clearly:
“The whole purpose of this quest, to rid the world of the scourge of typos, could be viewed in a different way: I was attending to public communication in its written form, attempting to enhance the clarity of the message. If typos were a communication issue, I wondered what other barriers existed among my countrymen that frustrated attempts at open and honest interchange.” (p. 58)
In addition, Deck and Herson have a great vocabulary that keeps the narrative fresh.
The Great Typo Hunt is a fun, informative, and engaging read that calls attention to many issues of importance in today’s society. Basically put, I highly recommend this book to everyone.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.