It is easy enough to look up information on just about anything these days. Many people have a mobile phone within easy grasp, or a tablet or laptop to look up some elusive detail. Search engines have become part of our vocabulary. Our conversations are littered with references to googling something or someone.

Having easy access to information is beneficial in many ways. Sometimes what you find isn’t quite what you were looking for. It may take you off on a winding track, and there can be delights as well as curious discoveries along the way.

But there are times when only a book will do. One of my favourite references is the Reader’s Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary. I found this handsome set in a window of an op shop a couple of years ago. The gold-embossed covers twinkled in the afternoon sun. Before I knew it, someone was climbing into the window display to bring the books out for a closer look. They were dated but still informative.

The Reader's Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary
The Reader’s Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary

The pages are full of diagrams and photos as well as pronunciation keys. Besides standard definitions, there are extra insights available on various subjects. It is easy to slip from one thought to the next throughout the pages of the dictionary. Illustrations add to the understanding of a word. It is encyclopaedic in nature, with historical, geographical and biographical entries.

Sample pages from the dictionary
Sample pages from the dictionary

It is easy to do an internet search on something but these dictionaries remain a handy reference. They appeal to my love of books. The illustrations provide a deeper understanding and context for unusual words.

Do you have a favourite reference book?

[Photo: Reader’s Digest Great Illustrated Dictionary]