Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's on your shelf?

Any author worth his or her salt has a collection of research materials. The collection grows nearly daily as the author continually runs up against problems to solve and conundrums to explain. I have an ever expanding library. Yep, you read that correctly. I have six large bookcases stuffed to the brim.
And I'm presently contemplating where I could put another.
So here are some of my favorite research books. You know... the ones that you pick up to truly check some esoteric fact and find yourself three hours later still browsing.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews
Barnes and Noble Publishing 2006 ISBN-13: 978-0-7607-7885-2
Wanna know about elves? This book has it.
Wanna know about an Ouroboros? Or a Tlatechtli? Or a Gollinkambi? This is the place to find out. Six hundred and eighty two pages of information about critturs you never heard of before and may never hear of again. (Amarinda and Kelly take note... this is my secret weapon for the Blog Saga!)
The book is filled with illustrations, special high-light pages, and detailed explanations about the weird wonderful fantastic world of magical creatures. If you need a really obscure creature to kick start a story idea. It's in there.
A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk by Hugh Rawson
(Being a Compilaton of Linguistic Fig Leaves and Verbal Flourishes for Artful Users of the English Language)
Crown Publisher, Inc. 1981 ISBN:0-517-55710-X
I love this book. I will give you one small sample of the dry wit of Mr. Rawson...
"remove. To kill, as in "The spy had been 'removed from circulation'" (William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid, 1976). This particular spy, or AGENT, was removed while crossing Broadway at Times Square: A taxi knocked him down and a follow-up car completed the removal by running over him. See also RUB OUT and the general HIT."
At three hundred and twelve pages, it is a wonderful book to while away an afternoon complete with a cold (or hot) drink while on vacation. Alas, that's the only time I have the opportunity to do more than a quick occasional dip into the pages.
Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe
Ballantine Books 1994 ISBN-13:978-0-307-29061-8
Whilst perusing this book, I came across the most wonderful stuff. There's the section on pregnancy tests from the Babylonians, 700 B.C. and the Egyptians, 1200 B.C. And according to scientists of the modern era, they work.
Hmmm. The section on sex toys was an eye opener to be sure. Yes, it sure was. Uh, the ancient Greeks were quite an adventurous bunch. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.
Moving on to another subject... odometers have apparently been around since prior to A.D. 300. The Chinese developed a way to measure distance with a "vehicle known as "li-recording drum carriage" (the li was their equivalent for a mile)." Imagine that.
For those inclined to complain about the postal system... postal systems were established by the Persians and Egyptians as early as 2000 B.C. give or take a few years. If you were wealthy enough you could send a letter even back then. I can't imagine what the postage must have cost. Probably it would make our postage look quite reasonable.
This is another one of those books that you start browsing and end up sitting up half the night. There's always "one more page". Those are the best kinds of books aren't they? So... what do you have on your shelf?
Make sure that you drop in at Amarinda's Place for her take on the Saga and what's happening in her life. http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ Then check Kelly's blog to see how the writing is going. http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ Blessing on your day!


  1. Amongst my six packed bookcases I have - "The How to be a Complete Bitch Guide", "The "Elvis Spotters Guide" and "King Kong - my side of the story."

  2. All wonderful books, I'm sure! You wouldn't want to part with them...

  3. Let's see: Tracking Serial Killers, The Forensic Casebook, GMC: Goal, Motivation, & Conflict, The Crime Writer's Reference Guide, Regency Etiquette, The Art of Kissing... All right at my elbow. Many many others elsewhere.

  4. Oh...I must get my hands on the Ancient Inventions book - that sounds fabulous!

    I have more books than I have room for, but currently I'm using

    Fairy Faith in the Celtic Countries by W. Y. Evans-Wentz

    The Sidhe by John Matthews

    The Idiot's Guide to Crime Scene Investigation

    The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers

    A Witch's Guide to Faery Folk by Edain McCoy

  5. My Christmas presents included a flip dictionary and a dictionary that includes the dates the words originated. Unfortunately, I don't have an Elvis spotter. grin.