I subscribe to a newsletter called "Tourbus" which just sent an issue
that contained a set of great, core, reference works and thought I'd
share them with you.
The connection to family history? Well, you may be looking to solve
some writing problem (Strunk), find the right word (Roget), or the
timing of a historic event (Encyclopaedia of World History). Enjoy.
* THE COLUMBIA ENCYCLOPEDIA (6th edition, 2001) purports to be the
most up-to-date encyclopedia available. It contains over 50,000
articles, 40,000 bibliographic citations, and 80,000 cross-
references. On the off chance that you were trying to remember
the name of Michael Jackson's 1995 album that critics described
as "petty, maudlin, and paranoid" -- it's in there. Use the
alphabetic index or search for the object of your inquiring.
* THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY (4th edition, 2000) is not your
typical online dictionary. In addition to the 90,000 definitions
you'd expect, the AHD has 70,000 audio word pronunciations, and
900 full-page color illustrations.
* STRUNK'S ELEMENTS OF STYLE - In 1918, William Strunk became the
Emily Post of English composition with the publication of "The
Elements of Style". This guide focuses on the rules of usage and
principles of composition most commonly violated. Words Often
Misspelled should be required reading, while the Words And
Expressions Commonly Misused chapter explains why it's certainly
very important for the student body to avoid a literal flood of
words when less would oftentimes be as good or better. As to
whether brevity is truly the soul of wit, many truly clever people
claim this viewpoint, but others believe that long-winded
exposition is an important factor in effective communication.
* THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD HISTORY (6th edition, 2001) compiled
by renowned historian Peter Stearns is a comprehensive chronology
spanning the millenia from prehistoric times to the year 2000.
But what's this? No mention of Middle Earth, or the impact of
Dwarves on modern mining technology. Hmmm...
* ROGETS II: THE NEW THESAURUS (3rd edition, 1995) picks up where
the 1922 edition left off. Search or browse over 35,000 synonyms
with succinct word definitions.
* QUOTATIONS - Use this page at Bartleby to search Bartlett's
Familiar Quotations, The Columbia World of Quotations, and
Simpson's Contemporary Quotations all at once!
* GRAY'S Anatomy of the Human Body (20th edition) featuring 1,247
vibrant engravings from the classic 1918 publication.
* ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER contains the orderly rules of reason used
by deliberative assemblies. Anyone second the motion?
THE LITERATURE SECTIONS
* The VERSE section includes anthologies such as "The Oxford Book
of English Verse" and "Yale Book of American Verse" as well as
volumes of works by Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost,
John Keats, and many others.
* The FICTION section starts with The Harvard Classics and The
Harvard Shelf of Fiction, which offer a combined 70 volumes that
cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion,
folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century.
You'll also find selected works of Aesop, Christie, Melville,
Stevenson, Wells and many others. Top it off with The Oxford
Shakespeare - 37 plays and 154 sonnets.
* The NON-FICTION section contains some of the seminal works in
history, from John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" and Thomas Paine's
"Common Sense" to Booker T. Washington's "Up from Slavery" and
Albert Einstein's "Relativity." The nonfiction section also
includes the complete inaugural addresses of every US President
from George Washington onward.
That's all for now. Do feel free to pass along any issue of Tourbus,
and tell your friends to visit the Tourbus website to see the
archives, or play Warp the Busdriver (and his poor dog). --Bob Rankin
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Judith Rempel, Webster