Words a random library patron didn’t know

I checked out Adrift: Seventy-six days lost at sea by Steven Callahan today and started reading it this evening.   I noticed something very interesting almost right away.  There were lots of penciled in checkboxes next to various lines in the text, and on the lines that were checked, a word or two was underlined in pencil.  In looking at these words, I guessed they were words that one of the previous library patrons who checked out the book didn’t know.   Here’s the list of words:

  • don (as in "don a raincoat")
  • shoal
  • trawlers
  • rogue
  • trends
  • nuances
  • vivid
  • evolved
  • cohesive
  • astrophysicist
  • intuitive extrapolation
  • enthralled
  • exorbitant
  • communion
  • convoluted
  • exhilarating
  • helm
  • crevice
  • quay
  • pandemonium
  • autumn equinox
  • lunatics
  • capstan
  • prone
  • rancorous
  • abated
  • aft

After that, it appears they gave up.  Now, at first I thought maybe it was a child, but I’m not sure that’s the case since there were many fairly complex words that were not underlined (e.g. "perspective", "conclusions", "hydrodynamics").

For some reason, I found this all very interesting.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.