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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Essential Reference Texts

A while back, The Millions asked the following question:  “In the age of Google and Wikipedia, reference books may seem anachronistic, but some have not been superseded by the internet in their usefulness and convenience and even in their ability to divert and entertain.  What is the one reference book you couldn’t live without?”  ( 

I’d find it difficult to choose just one, but I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen that appear on my shelves:

Oxford English Dictionary; I’ve got the two-volume compact edition with the magnifying glass.
Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia by Bruce Murphy
A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrams
Masterpieces of World Literature in Digest Form, edited by Frank N. Magill
The Oxford Companion to the English Language, edited by Tom McArthur
The Reader’s Encyclopedia of Shakespeare, edited by Oscar James Campbell
Chambers Biographical Dictionary, edited by Magnus Magnusson
The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch
The Dictionary of Classical, Biblical, and Literary Allusions by Abraham H. Lass
McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage by Mark Lester and Larry Beason
The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes by Clifton Fadiman