Read “Lederer on Language” every Saturday in the San Diego Union Tribune and on this site.
Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

This month marks the release, finally, of the film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by British author E.L. James. Noting that the title contains both a number and a color, I offer you a numbers game and a colorful quiz to test your knowledge of literature.

Authors aren’t always the best mathematicians, but the numbers they place in some of their titles are often significant to the stories themselves. In Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” for example, the title turns out to be the temperature at which book paper ignites, an important figure in a society that employs firemen not to save houses but to burn down houses — houses suspected of containing books.

Now identify the missing number in each title below. All answers repose at the bottom of this column.

1._____ Arabian Nights 2. Arthur C. Clarke, _____: A Space Odyssey 3. Agatha Christie, _____ Little Indians 4. Richard Henry Dana, _____ Years Before the Mast 5. Charles Dickens, A Tale of _____ Cities

6. Alexandre Dumas, The _____ Musketeers 7. Helene Hanff, _____, Charing Cross Road 8. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the _____ Gables 9. Joseph Heller Catch-_____ 10. Ken Kesey, _____ Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

11. T. E. Lawrence, The _____ Pillars of Wisdom 12. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, _____ Years of Solitude 13. A. A. Milne, Now We Are _____ 14. Solomon Northrup, _____ Years a Slave 15. John O’Hara, Butterfield _____

16. Reginald Rose, _____ Angry Men 17. Dodie Smith, _____ Dalmatians 18. Jules Verne, Around the World in _____ Days 19. Jules Verne, _____ Leagues Under the Sea 20. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse _____

Now let’s go to colors. British poet and satirist Hilaire Belloc wrote as his epitaph:

When I am dead, I hope it may be said,

“His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”

Belloc is little read today, alas, but, picking up on his waggish pun, we note that a number of books are black and white and read all over — and gold and silver and purple and scarlet and green and orange and black and gray.

I’ll put out the red carpet and award you a blue ribbon and gold star if you can marshal your gray matter to identify the missing color in each title below. I’m confident that you’ll pass this test with flying colors:

1. Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork _____ 2. Tom Clancy, The Hunt for _____ October 3. Stephen Crane, The _____ Badge of Courage 4. Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in _____ 5. Fannie Flagg, Fried _____ Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Café

6. Ian Flemming, _____finger 7. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The _____ Letter 8. Crockett Johnson, Harold and the _____ Crayon 9. Jack London, _____ Fang 10. Mary Mapes Dodge, Hanks Brinker: or the _____ Skates

11. Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of _____ Gables 12. Baroness Orczy, The _____ Pimpernel 13. Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the _____ Death 14. Dr. Seuss, _____ Eggs and Ham 15. Anna Sewell _____ Beauty

16. John Steinbeck, The ____Pony 17. Alice Walker, The Color _____ 18. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian _____ 19. Sloane Wilson, The Man in the _____ Flannel Suit 20. Richard Wright, _____ Boy

Answers Numbers: 1. One Thousand and One 2. 2001 3. Ten 4. Two 5 Two 6. Three 7. 84 8. Seven 9. 10. One 11.Seven 12. One Hundred 13. Six 14. Twelve 15 8. 16. Twelve 17. 101 18. Eighty 19. 20,000 20. Five Colors: 1. Orange 2. Red 3. Red 4. Scarlet 5. Green 6. Gold 7. Scarlet 8. Purple 9. White 10. Silver 11. Green 12. Scarlet 13. Red 14. Green 15. Black 16. Red 17. Purple 18. Gray 19. Gray 20. Black

Please send your questions and comments about language to