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#31065 - 04/22/04 12:07 PM What's on your reference shelf?
Ria Moderator
Ching Shih

Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 497
Loc: Massachusetts, USA

We have a topic in the Bookworm in which people post the contents of one of their bookshelves. I've been meaning to start a similar thread for reference books for some time--and now I have.

Here's a selection from my shelf:

Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary
Diccionario del Espanol Actual, 2 volumes
Diccionario de Terminos Medicos
The Interpreter's Companion
Using Spanish Synonyms
New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish
Pictorial Spanish Dictionary
Codigo de Comercio Actualizado (Mexico)
Spanish Idioms
Diccionario del Espanol Nicaraguense
Dudas y Dificultades de la Lengua Espanola

....and that's only a few of my dictionaries and reference books. Not hard to tell what I do for a living, is it?

So, what's on your reference shelf?

#31066 - 04/22/04 12:28 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Ching Shih

Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

I have a couple of shelves for reference here in the home office (this is not counting the very basic books I have at work).

On the shelf unit that sits on my desk:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • The New Well-Tempered Sentence, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • Torn Wings and Faux Pas, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • Lapsing into a Comma, by Bill Walsh

On the bookshelf beside my desk:
  • Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 5th Edition (my grandfather's)
  • Four grammar books in Irish, German, Italian, and French
  • Starting from Scratch, by Rita Mae Brown
  • Wild Mind, The Long Quiet Highway, and Thunder and Lightning, by Natalie Goldberg
  • The King's English, by Kingsley Amis
  • The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
  • How Proust Can Save Your Life, by Alain de Botton
  • The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, by Eugene Ehrlich
  • Webster's 10c
  • The AP Stylebook and Libel Manual
  • The MLA Handbook
  • Copywriting by Design, by David Herzbrun
  • Write on Target, by Donna Baier Stein and Floyd Kemske

On my big bookcase out in the living room, I have my OED and my Oxford World Atlas, because the only shelf they would fit on in here is on the top of my desk or bookshelf -- and either book would kill me dead were they to fall off during an earthquake.

Edited twice because I am sick and have a fever which prevents me from being able to count or spell.

#31067 - 04/22/04 01:15 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih

Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

Catness, I am guessing either Karen Elizabeth Gordon's books are standard references for your work, or you'd recommend them. Any one in particular you'd recommend to start?

I have surprisingly few reference books at work. Let's see...

  • Handbook of Technical Writing, Fifth Edition by Brusaw, Alred, and Oliu
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (work standard)
  • Technical Writing Style by Dan Jones
  • two manuals on Corporate Project Methodology
  • a coursebook on project management using MS Project

I don't have a dictionary at work; I usually use Wordsmyth for that. Our corporate style guide is also online rather than print (now that we have one). I used to have a pocket HTML reference, and I finally found my copy of Judith Tarutz' Technical Editing at home but haven't brought it in yet. And I have lots more references at home.

And I think it's as obvious for me as it is for Ria what I do for a living!

#31068 - 04/22/04 01:34 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Ching Shih

Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

It's a combination of goopy, doe-eyed love for Gordon's books, Bill Walsh, and the CMS, as well as those being the books I will reach for first if ever I have a question. That's why they're right here, where I barely have to extend my arm to grab one.

I'd recommend starting with The Deluxe Transitive Vampire or The New Well-Tempered Sentence. I bought the former, first, after reading the first line of a review: "This book will make your friends hate you."

#31069 - 04/22/04 08:51 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Ching Shih

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 1061
Loc: London, UK

The collection at home is much more comprehensive (I have very little need of a Russian dictionary or a crime lingo dictionary at This Political Office), but here's the Shelf-Above-My-Desk collection:

  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide
  • The Commonwealth Government Style Guide
  • Politics One
  • The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World
  • How Parliament Works
  • SBS World Guide
  • The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Speeches
  • The American Constitution
  • Dictionary of Environmental Terms
  • Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
  • Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations
  • Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: A zero tolerance approach to punctuation
  • Death Sentence: The decay of public language
  • Business Ethics
  • The Australian Media Guide
  • Bliss Dictionary of Foreign Words & Phrases
  • Big kickarse Collins Thesaurus
  • Public Relations Strategies and Tactics
  • Marketing: Australia and New Zealand
  • Advertising Copywriting
  • Professional Communication: Principles and Applications
  • The Boyer Lectures
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics Statistical Returns 1998-2002

And if Thirteen Days by RFK counts as a reference book, then that's there too. I just like to have it around.

This is great fun. Love seeing other people's lists.

#31070 - 04/23/04 07:47 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Gráinne ni Mhaille

Registered: 04/12/04
Posts: 8
Loc: Montreal

What a great topic! I think it will be pretty easy to see what I do for a living, too. Here are some of the reference books on my shelf:
  • Simon & Schuster's International English-Spanish Spanish-English Dictionary
  • Routledge Spanish Technical Dictionary
  • Glosario internacional para el traductor
  • Real Academia Española Diccionario de la lengua española
  • Manual de español urgente
  • The Canadian Style
  • The Canadian Oxford Dictionary
  • The Elements of Style
  • Dicionário ilustrado Michaelis português-inglês
  • Portuguese Verbs Simplified
  • Le Nouveau Petit Robert Dictionnaire de la langue française
  • Multidictionnaire des difficultés de la langue française
  • Le Robert & Collins Senior Dictionnaire français-anglais anglais-français
  • Bescherelle L'art de conjuguer

I love my reference books, but when I'm working I find CD-ROMs or online glossaries and databases more convenient. I guess that means I need have to invest in a bigger desk. ;\)

#31071 - 04/24/04 10:01 AM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Ching Shih

Registered: 10/01/03
Posts: 222
Loc: Houston, Texas

My most commonly used reference shelf:

* The Goof Proofer, a very handy little guide to stuff I always forget, like when to use "lie" or "lay."
* a Merriam Webster pocket guide to punctuation and style
* "Words Fail Me" by Patricia O'Connor, which I've meant to read but haven't.
* "On Writing" by Stephen King, which I've also meant to read but haven't.
* a super-handy Dictionary of Foreign Terms I got from a professor who was retiring
* Diana Hacker's Pocket Style Manual
* Webster's Concise Biographical Dictionary
* the journal my department in college put out that includes a paper I wrote (probably the only time I'll ever manage to be published)
* Facts on File's Dictionary of Cultural and Historical Allusions, Middle Ages through 20th Century
* Penguin's dictionary of literary terms
* American Heritage Dictionary
* Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, given to me by a professor for doing a guest lecture in one of her classes

I have a shelf of travel reference stuff and a shelf of history reference stuff, plus a shelf of foreign language reference stuff. Sadly, I don't use any of them much these days.

#31072 - 04/24/04 11:09 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Gráinne ni Mhaille

Registered: 03/24/04
Posts: 10
Loc: New York City

Merriam-Websrter’s Collegiate
Instant Spelling Dictionary, 3rd edition,
The Synonym Finder by J.J. Rodale,
Random House Word Menu, by S. Glazier
Webster’s Word Menu
The Describer’s Dictionary by D. Grambs
Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary by M. McCutcheon
Dorland-Kindersley Visual Dictionary
The Facts on File Visual Dictionary by J. Corbeil
The Macmillan Visual Dictionary, unabridged compact edition, Macmillan, 1955. Has color illustrations.
What’s What: A Visual Glossary of the Physical World
Partridge’s Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, from the work of Eric Partridge, edited by P. Beale
Idiom Savant: Slang as it is Slung by J. Dunn
War Slang by Paul Dickson
British English A to Zed, revised and updated, by N.W. Schur
The New York Public Library Guide to Style and Usage
Random House Guide to Good Writing by M. Ivers
Dr. Grammar’s Writes from Wrongs by J. Agel
The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Also The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed.
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose by Constance Hale
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
21st Century Manual of Style, The Princeton Language Institute
Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age by Constance Hale and Jessie Scanlon
The International Dictionary: The Words You Need in 21 Languages, compiled by H. L. Ouseg
International Dictionary of Obscenities: A Guide to Dirty Words and Indecent Expressions in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian by Christina Kunitskaya-Peterson

That's probably barely a third of my home reference collection. I have a number of language dictionaries, The Mode in Costume, books on furniture and on architecture, books on myths and literary allusions, medical titles such as The Pill Book and The Merck Manual Home Edition, books on weapons, planes, a few atlases, travel books,a variety of slang and lingo dictionaries, a few of the Writer's Digest Howdunit series, a few science reference titles, and uh, lots more. When I'm not busy being a librarian by day, I'm an aspiring writer by night.
"Our waking hours form the text of our lives; our dreams, the commentary." (Anonymous)

#31073 - 08/24/04 05:31 PM Re: What's on your reference shelf?
Ching Shih

Registered: 07/19/02
Posts: 176
Loc: Toronto

I'm so envious. I had to leave almost all my books when I moved on residence at school. My reference shelf holds so little now.

My MLA handbook
Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
My OED (I would die without it)
A French dictionary and a French/English dictionary

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