Reading the OED

Customer Reviews

41 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By William on 03-24-09

The best recorded book I never finished

By the time I got to the letter "D" I realized I had to be able to see the words, not just hear them, so I bought a hardback copy. This is a delightful book for word enthusiasts, and the reader does a fine job moving things along with wit and humor. Should you read or listen to this book? Yes, yes, yes, YES. (see epizeuxis)

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By John S. on 01-28-10

Blink and you miss it!

I liked the story; the narration was great! However, the material flies by - I'll need to read the print version later to see what I might've missed.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Aryn on 06-25-10

loved it

Bought the audio version first, and realized that yep, I needed it in print to see what the words looked like. Glad I have the audio version, though, as a pronunciation guide and because I find it worth listening to.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Carin on 11-17-11

You must really love dictionaries to love this.

Normally I love memoirs of someone doing something nutty for a year. But sadly, this one didn't live up to my expectations. I actually have a friend who owns the OED. I was with him when he bought it at The Strand in New York (it came with a magnifying glass). I love weird words, the stories behind them, and so I thought this book would be perfect. And it wasn't.

I think it might have been improved in print. There are 26 chapters, one for each letter, and at the end of each chapter there's a list of words with definitions and Mr. Shea's opinions about them. Those were difficult on audio. Not only could you not skim through them as most people reading the print version would have done, but also if one was interesting, you'd have to rewind to figure out what the word was, and that certainly never happened, so the point of those lists was lost on audio (although I give props to the narrator as those must have been supremely difficult parts for him to read.)

Also something I usually like about these books is that it's a fairly ordinary, identifiable person who's doing the nutty thing. But Mr. Ammon is a collector of dictionaries who reads them for fun. This project, while long, really isn't a stretch for him at all. And he's a bit odd. He even goes to a dictionary convention and all the people there found his project very weird. And while we do hear a lot about him looking for the right library, his headaches and glasses, how difficult it is to read the OED outside, we really almost never hear anything about his daily, everyday life. I really didn't feel like I got to know him at all which is strange for a memoir. So while it's well-written and very well-narrated, I think one would have to already have an abiding love of dictionaries to truly love this book.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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