An obsessive word lover's account of reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary, hailed as "the Super Size Me of lexicography."
"I'm reading the OED so you don't have to," says Ammon Shea on his slightly masochistic journey to scale the word lover's Mount Everest: the Oxford English Dictionary. In 26 chapters filled with sharp wit, sheer delight, and a documentarian's keen eye, Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word.
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Ammon Shea is the author of two previous books on obscure words, Depraved English and Insulting English (written with Peter Novobatzky). He read his first dictionary, Merriam Webster’s Second International, ten years ago, and followed it up with the sequel, Webster’s Third International. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.From Booklist:
Shea’s engougement (“irrational fondness”) for dictionaries led him to spend a year reading through all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary, and he describes this account as “the thinking man’s Cliff Notes to the greatest dictionary in the world.” For each letter of the alphabet he provides a handful of his favorite words and his own humorous glosses, along with musings on the history of the OED, dictionaries in general, and his reading life. (He does most of his OED reading at the Hunter College Library and finds himself turning into one of those “Library People” as the year goes by.) He shares a number of words that, though they have fallen out of the common vocabulary, could be put to excellent use today: empleomania: “a manic compulsion to hold public office”; zabernism: “a misuse of military authority.” The book will happify (“make happy”) word and dictionary lovers, who will be able to read it in an hour or two, much less time than it takes to read the OED. --Mary Ellen Quinn
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