Activities and Insight from James W. Pennebaker

Secret Life of Pronouns - James PennebakerGuest Post by Colleen M. Farrelly

As a lifelong logophile, I’ve found folks who are acerbic, insipid, and (occasionally) inimitable. However, I’d never thought about the his or hers or theirs aspect of life (or the importance of these words) until reading James Pennebaker’s The Secret Life of Pronouns.

By analyzing the words that knit together what I’d assumed were the important words of a sentence, one can learn a lot about the sentence’s writer or speaker—his/her personality, truthfulness, social status, and even future behavior. Pennebaker even includes links to writing activities used to analyze traits described in the book. According to the bottle project, I’m likely to attend art shows and avoid blow-drying my hair (guilty on both counts).

With a fairly low reading level required for the activities sections and insight from disparate fields like psychology, politics, and law, this book offers something for everyone in the family. Happy reading!


The Secret Life of Pronouns by James Pennebaker. Bloomsbury Press, August 2011.

Reviewer bio: Colleen M. Farrelly is a freelance writer in Palmetto Bay, FL, whose poetry has appeared in many haibun and haiku journals.

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