When I saw this advertised, I felt slightly ashamed that I had no idea what a `philavery' was.... It turns out I needn't have worried: the word was invented specifically to describe this book: "Philavery /fil-a-vuh-ri/ n. an idiosyncratic collection of uncommon and pleasing words."
The book is the result of years of word collecting by the author, Christopher Foyle, chairman of the famous Foyles bookshop in London. The `uncommoness' of the words included in the volume is defined by Foyle; as such many words in the philavery are familiar to me. Indeed, he states in the introduction that the US commander of the first Gulf War described information with little value as "bovine scatology". The author admits he had to refer to a dictionary to discover the meaning of scatology, which surprised me as I would not personally consider it an unusual word. The same goes for fabiform, exsanguinate, factitious, chino and countless more. Some words, such as `halcyon', were included not because they are particularly unfamiliar, but because of their fascinating etymologies.
In all, this would make a great gift with its attractive design and quality of production. And whilst the criteria for inclusion in the philavery seems somewhat spurious, and certainly subjective, this is a 230-page book full of obscure, quirky, fun, poignant words, so even if you know some of them already, there is still plenty to delight and inform word lovers.