An old piece of writing from University in which the professor asked us to describe our favourite book. I was being a bit cheeky because they were probably expecting a lot of famous works of fiction. When I need to look up a word nowadays, I just google it.
My favourite book in the entire world is my big, red, well-worn, hard cover dictionary: Webster’s New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition, 1988. Actually I like all dictionaries, but this one is something of a family relic. There are a couple of notes written in the margins for some entries, written in my father’s hand as he worked out crossword puzzles, like the word OSAR written in beside esker (my dad always writes in capital letters) or YAHWEH by god. If you have ever done crosswords then you know some words are quite obscure, usually found after you’ve solved the other words around it, and then you still may not be sure unless you have a big red dictionary with all sorts of words, abbreviations, names, and slang. Unless they are words that are in almost every crossword puzzle, you know, ERE (before) or E’ER (ever) or IRE (anger).
This book has been repaired several times, glue and tape and red ribbon, the points of the edges have been worn down into round nubs, some of the finger-divots that tell you where the letters of the alphabet are have lost their descriptions, jumping from C to H/I. I just looked up divots; it means the clumps of grass that come up when you smack the ground in a game of golf. Well that’s sort of what they look like so I will leave that word. I always thought of this dictionary as belonging to the family, but when I moved away to go to University it became mine. I didn’t get anyone’s permission but it will always be mine now.
I remember when I was younger, my friends and I would be thrown into fits of giggles at looking up definitions for swear words (especially the f-word, oh man was that hilarious). As a teen I went through a Variety Puzzles phase, and the dictionary lived in my room. So of course it came with me when I moved, the two of us forever. Maybe it’s just me, forming relationships with inanimate objects, but books must be dear friends to librarians.