Tuesday Fun: Favorite Reference Book

Okay, I was a total nonfiction bookworm when I was younger and I still am (information is more real when it comes out of a book instead of a webpage, didn’t you know?). So I have many nonfiction research loves, but this is my favorite, hand’s down. Katharine Briggs’ An Encyclopedia of Fairies. Basically it’s an alphabetical guide to all these weird and wonderful British fairy myths, from evil water horses to time in fairy land to things that crawl from under rocks . . . It’s not just a great starting point for researching real fairy myths for my novels, it is a book that as a teen I could read from cover to cover and then do it again. I checked this book out again and again and again . . . and as an adult, I went and bought it and I still can read it cover to cover.

In fact, makes me want to go out and read it right now. I’m going to go look up “taboo.” 

14 thoughts on “Tuesday Fun: Favorite Reference Book

  1. I love this book too. I can see it from where I’m sitting. The density of it is thrilling. 😀

  2. i have a sort of abridged version of that sitting next to my bed.
    (Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts, which is a lot of the same entries and a lot shorter with some different things and illustrations and such.)
    it’s right between the Weird NJ book and a paperback Klingon dictionary (now with material from Star Trek 5!). ;D

  3. I have a stack of medical books and weaponry books that I’m in all the time for various bits and pieces. I find that some of the non fic stuff becomes just as important to me in my research for how to deal with things that go argh in the night…


  4. Have you ever read The Erotic World of Faerie by Maureen Duffy? You totally should. No really. It has footnotes.

  5. Yes – and it’s great for getting unstuck, isn’t it? Sometimes fact is just so useful.

  6. The thesis is that faerie tales were “invented” to teach sexual taboos.

    I bet her editors thought her original title wouldn’t sell. 😉

  7. yeah, i’ve been thinking of that, because so many people have said good things about it.
    plus, this version doesn’t, like, have an entry for kelpies. which was no good for the thing i actually wanted to research the last time i picked it up
    the abridged one is my mom’s, actually. found it in our bookcase one time. had it for years, apparently, as the tattered covers shows.

  8. i think i will…in July, when i have lots of gift certificates and money from relatives who do not know what else to get the girl who always brings books to family parties.

  9. I got that book as a Christmas gift mumble years ago, the same year I was given a Complete Grimm’s and Andersen. It’s still the best folklore reference around.

    There are others that aren’t too bad, like a recent Barnes and Noble Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, but Briggs’ work leaves them in the dust for scholarship and completeness.

    I’ve also gotten quite a lot out of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and various illustrated symbol dictionaries.

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