Oxford Dictionary of Reference & Allusion
(Oxford University Press)
I was wondering recently if anyone still used actual, physical reference books when Oxford Press sent me the new paperback edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Reference & Allusion. I had no idea there was such a thing, but I love it! I’m always stumbling over some reference, either to some classical book I should have read in high school or some big deal movie character I never heard of. This dictionary totally answers that problem.
It’s concise, comprehensive and neatly organized. Word nerds will dig it, as will aspiring Jeopardy! champs and those who love errata and miscellaneous of the Schott’s variety. A few years ago I finally tossed my old, phone-book-sized New York Times Desk Reference, and I was glad to be rid of it. That thing was like a terse Brittanica without the cool pictures. Besides taking up the entire shelf, it was a rabbit warren of confusing cross-references and outdated info.
I tossed almost all my reference books, actually, keeping only the ones I was sentimental about—Hodges Harbrace College Handbook, Dorland’s Pocket Medical Dictionary, my old thesaurus. I kept my AP Stylebook, lord knows why—it’s an almost random selection of words and phrases to capitalize or italicize or not use—the most unhelpful reference book I’ve ever owned.
This, however, is worth making space on the shelf.