Leave it to Bill Bryson to make me feel better about my short comings! I just finished reading The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way and I loved it for a number of reasons. But the most important reason, besides my undying love for Bryson, is because he reveals that a number of words are spelled the way they are today, because people could not spell them properly in their original form. Therefore, I am not a bad speller I am a language innovator, maybe some of my awful spelling will stick and one day I will be quoted as the one who finally made sense spelling in the English language (or maybe not).
In this book Bryson goes over the evolution of the English language, the parts of speech, why we use certain words, and why we spell them the way we do. He points out the origin of certain words, when they came into existence and why we use them. He also discusses the different meanings that certain words have in the US and Britain. The most rewarding aspect of this book is that you realize that English is a living and changing language. Words that you use now can change within a few years, they may not be used at all or the meaning may even change!
Hell, for you Project Runway viewers who are now using Fierce to describe anything that looks good all because of Christian (that little snot) you know what Bryson means!