By: Joshua Glenn
October 16, 2021

National Dictionary Day, which celebrates the birthday of Noah Webster, is today!

She never orbited the planet without it.

THE ADVENTURER’S GLOSSARY, a word-nerd exploration of the theory and practice of (all sorts of) adventure, was published last month by McGill-Queen’s University Press, one of Canada’s preeminent academic publishers. It’s my third collaboration with the philosopher Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth.

To read advance publicity the book has received — e.g., from The Boston Globe‘s IDEAS section, Quill & Quire, and elsewhere — please click here.


Here are some of the book’s back-cover endorsements:

“Joshua Glenn, Mark Kingwell, and Seth combine their talents to embark on a grand linguistic adventure. Together they map out the power of language to help the explorer navigate a rich narrative.” — Ann Bancroft, first woman to trek to the North and South Poles

“A case for ‘adventure’ as a literary as well as a quasi-athletic genre and attitude, with a philosopher’s aerial approach, a set of literary recommendations, and a great deal of cultural history baked into a very skimmable A to Z.” — Stephanie Burt, author of Don’t Read Poetry: A Book about How to Read Poems

“I read The Adventurer’s Glossary with great interest and mounting enthusiasm; there is no book quite like it. I found surprises on nearly every page.” — Lucy Sante, author of Maybe the People Would Be the Times


At the invitation of Writer’s Digest, I dashed off a short piece on “5 Thrilling Adventure Terms Every Writer Should Know (And Why).” Here’s an excerpt:

DANMAKU. Shoot-’em-up videogames in which players must dodge elaborate, at times almost psychedelically complex patterns of projectile flows, are known in Japanese as danmaku — which means, literally, “bullet curtain.” (Until recently, most games of this sort, including Espgaluda II, DoDonPachi Resurrection, and Ikaruga, came from Japan.) What’s the appeal of this sort of challenge? Rapidly figuring out the weak spots in patterns and how to exploit them. The best strategy in most cases involves moving boldly and nimbly forward — into the maelstrom. A useful lesson for adventurers.

Here’s the piece.


Stay tuned for more ADVENTURER’S GLOSSARY news…