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Eclectic, Erratic, Eccentric … Essential!
on 11 January 2006
Once upon a time, Brewer's used to sit on my bookshelf gathering dust. It was, I felt, the sort of book that, as a lover of reference books, one ought to own … but, I realised, I never actually USED it. Then, one day, I took it down, blew off the dust and looked up something, I think I was truing to glean some additional in formation about heraldry. Four hours later, I came up for air, having spent a blissful afternoon doing the literary equivalent of “surfing” - following one cross reference to another from Greek mythology, through theology, Harry Potter, sporting slang, Tudor eating habits, demonology, pop groups, Somerset folk lore and much more besides.
I then took the book to bed and proceeded to read it cover to cover (not at one sitting I hasten to add). I know of no other reference books with which one could do this without eventually dying of fatigue or terminal boredom. I emerged exalted, educated and converted. There may be little logic or reason behind the eclectic, eccentric, inconsistent criteria for inclusion and exclusion but, once you have grasped the spirit, if not the law, behind them you will fall in love with the book, occasional inaccuracies and all. This explains why it defies the internet, literary competition and remains in print to this day, loved like a faithful if slightly dippy ancient family dog by all those who have taken the time to explore between its idiosyncratic pages.