100 best non-fiction books – 18 to 25

Some catching up is called for in my survey of the indexes of these books. Some interesting points arise about use of capital letters and the sorting of subheadings.

Number 18 is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. The current version available via Amazon has a tidy index, including names and subjects. Worthy of note are the subheadings, which depart from the usual alphabetical order, and are organised as they appear in the book.

Number 19 is The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson. This is a large book and the current version has a relatively short index, about 12 pages for a book over 900 pages long, which makes me wonder what has been left out. Many headings have lots of locators, which can make an index difficult to use. Also, all the headings start with a capital letter, even if the subject in the book doesn’t. This can be tricky on the eye for modern readers more accustomed to lower case letters.

Number 20 is The Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. A more generous allowance for the index in this book, than the one above. Again, there are capital letters at the start of all the headings. The index doesn’t seem to suffer from excessive numbers of locators for each heading, but there are many run-on subheadings for some entries. As with The Feminine Mystique, the subheadings are in the order that they appear in the book, not in alphabetical order.

Number 21 is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S Kuhn. The 50th anniversary edition has an index that uses run-on subheadings that are in alphabetical order, and some of them suffer from excess locators, making it rather difficult to find things in this book.

Number 22 is A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis, and the index, if there is one, isn’t available on Amazon.

Number 23 is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, also without index visible.

Number 24 is The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith, and we’re back with an index to look at in this volume. Another slightly shouty index with capitals at the start of all entries. Run-on subheadings which are generally short, and in alphabetical order.

Number 25 is The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life by Richard Hoggart. The recent edition seems to have an updated index. It includes the names of people who probably weren’t born when this book was first published. It’s quite short for the size of the book. Capitals only for proper names, lower case for other entries. Very few (possibly unnecessary) subheadings, so some entries with lots of locators. Some cross-references that are unnecessary, and a double entry would have done – bird fancying has one locator, so canary-breeding see bird fancying could have duplicated the locator and not bothered with the cross-reference, and I might have checked if either or both should be hyphenated.




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