I had to redo the binding on my favorite dictionary today. It’s a Webster’s Seventh Collegiate. I stole it from my step-father when I was in 12th grade. The binding holding the covers onto the inner pages had disintegrated well before I graduated from college. No surprising since by then the actual book was 30 years old.
There are newer dictionaries out there, ones that incorporate words and phrases that have made their way into English since the Seventh’s publication and I own more of them than is probably reasonable for one person. But the Seventh holds a particular utility and sentimental value for me. It was the dictionary that made me feel smart in high school. Yes, I was one of those kids who actually read the dictionary. It was the first reference book I ever claimed as my own. It’s the book I turn to first when I want to make sure I’m using a word correctly. As such, yes, it is an old friend and it is beat up.
I spent July 4th weekend at the North American Discworld Convention in Baltimore. Discworld is the universe Terry Pratchett first unleashed on the world in 1983 with The Colour of Magic. Discworld is flat and carried through the universe on the back of four elephants who are standing on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a turtle, who slowly swims through space. Pratchett’s Discworld novels are literate and humane in the deepest sense of the word exploring what it means to exist and co-exist. Though there are currently 39 of them with the 40th, Raising Steam, to be published this October, it is as the organizers of one panel at NADWCON pointed out possible to run out of Discworld novels. Arguably, it’s only possible to run out of previously unread Discworld novels.
Because this was a Con there was a vendors’ room which included not one but two booksellers. To be expected at a convention focusing on a single author. Fewer ornamental swords than Comic Con (currently under frenzied way in San Diego) and more discussion about which edition and printing is the best one to own. While filling in my own collection to replace some early paperbacks with hardcover volumes I got into an interesting discussion with one of the booksellers. [Read more…] about The Sacred and the Functional