Saturday, January 3, 2009

One book read

Well, I have finished reading Reading the OED in considerably less time than it took Ammon Shea to read the OED itself. This was a fun quick read, which would have been considerably shorter if I wasn't constantly stopping to make notes about things to include in the blog. I had originally intended to simply write a review of each book I read, but I was so amused about so many things in this short work that I think instead that I will write several shorter entries about some of the things I've noted.

A prefix I like is meta- meaning "of a higher or second order kind" according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary. In reading Reading the OED I was doing what I referred to as "meta-reading" (reading about reading). As a librarian I find this immensely satisfying.

I had a friend in elementary school who read the dictionary. She was very smart, and somewhat quirky. I was quirky, but not as smart, and so thought that if perhaps I read the dictionary, too I would become just as smart as she was. I bought a paperback dicitionary and started reading with the letter A. I never got beyond it. I just couldn't see the appeal. Ammon Shea certainly does see the appeal where I never did and what can I say, but that he appears to be smart and quirky .

One reason why this book is such a quick read is that there is a lot of white space in its 215 pages. Each letter of the alphabet is a chapter which consists of a bit about what Shea was experiencing while he was reading that section of the OED, followed by some of his favorite words starting with that letter, and his own editorial comments about each word he picked.

I started reading this book with the book flap. One thing I noticed was this quote "Who would set out to read this massive work in its enitrety? Only a man as obsessed, coffee-fueled and verbally inclined as Ammon Shea". It was the term "coffee-fueled" that piqued my interest. Anyone who knows the Hayes-Bohanan's professionally, or socially, knows that we are not only coffee drinkers, we are coffee obsessors. We drink fair-trade, organic coffee almost exclusively. We often roast the beans at home, and grind them with a hand grinder. It is a spiritual practice. My favorite coffee cup came from the American Library Association and has the Dewey Decimal number for coffee printed on it. By the time I'd gotten to the letter C in Shea's book I realized he's already mentioned coffee, or coffee related products seven times. And so, I set out to count the number of times it was mentioned in the book, which turns out to be no fewer than 24.

I have requested the next book I intend to read: The Know It All by A.J. Jacobs through interlibrary loan. I will hope that it will come in time for me to read it by the end of the month. In the meantime I will try to post regularly about Reading the OED.

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