This book then is about one man’s great adventure comparable to an oxygen solo climb of Mount Everest. In the final analysis, Shea did it because the OED was there, and because he was obsessed by words.
This book, however, is a little more than an account of a great journey successfully undertaken. Shea enlivens the journey for his readers with his reflections on the act of reading, on what he read in the dictionary and also about the science and art of lexicography. While reading the dictionary, he was urged by a friend to attend a conference on the making of dictionaries. There he heard someone give a paper on why a form of punctuation called tramlines (//), used to designate a word that hasn’t been naturalized, is missing from the supplement to the OED. He had suddenly met a kindred spirit!
For fellow word lovers, Shea performs a service. He makes an alphabetical list of unusual, unused but interesting words that he encountered while reading the OED. How many know, for example, that the noun ‘rapin’ means an unruly art student. People of West Bengal, perhaps even of India, will be delighted to know that the OED lists ‘kakistocracy’ which means government by the worst citizens.
If you love English and if you love words, this is the book for you. Don’t miss it.
Take a look!