First off, I know. It’s amazing that I don’t get more traffic through this blog with such scintillating and relevant topics, amirite?
But, I really do love encyclopedias. And not online encyclopedias. Real encyclopedias. Encyclopedias with blue leather covers and gold writing and gilt pages. I love them hardcore and anyone who wishes to buy me a birthday present need look no further than this post.
My dad often jokes that the reason he taught me to read was so that I could find things out on my own because, after several valiant years of effort, he realized that he had no idea how to answer all of the questions I asked him each day. I was curious about everything. So, my dad’s solution was to buy three different sets of encyclopedias from a garage sale. And thus, the lifelong love affair of reading, researching, and numbered books all in a row began.
So, without further ado, here’s the five reasons that I love encyclopedias.
Encyclopedias are like the classic cars of the book world. Once upon a time, everyone had them. Nowadays, they’re collected by some, used by a few, and admired by a select couple.
But, what really draws me to these books isn’t just that they’re a classic kind of book. It’s that they have such an understated elegance to them. The numbers and letters pressed on the spine that nestle against the fingers of your hand. The thin, gossamer-like pages that offer to be perused or studied, at your leisure. The covers that simultaneously draw the attention and back away from the spotlight. Classic.
There’s A Ton of Them
There’s an encyclopedia for nearly anything you, or I, can think of. The most common ones are the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the World Book, but there’s tons of other ones out there for any type of sought after knowledge.
There’s encyclopedias for kids, adults, and everything between. While most of the encyclopedias I had were focused on science and history, but that isn’t the case now. Now, there’s literately encyclopedias for everything from folklore to astronomy.
Pretty amazing, right?
I Always Find Something New to Look Up
I’m going to admit something here. I’m a clickbait queen. If I click on one thing and find it interesting, you can almost guarantee that I will click and click and click until I’ve either discovered everything there is to know about the article I’m reading or I realize that I’ve wasted three hours of my life. You know, whichever one comes first.
One of the things I love about encyclopedias is that they were the original clickbait. Except, instead of reading 5,168 comments from people saying the same thing over and over about a subject, I found out more about the subject.
If I looked up, oh, let’s say ‘Babylon’, I’d read about it and then go on to ‘Hammurabi’ and then on to ‘Code of Laws’, and then onto…well, just about anything. But, instead of fearing for the future of humanity, I learned more about the subject that I wanted to know about in the first place. Relevant information? Yes, please!
You Find Out About Cool, Little Known Things
When I was a little kid, I loved finding out about things that no one else knew about. This love of eccentric knowledge ranged from interesting words, to strange bits of history, to a deep and thorough fascination with folklore from around the world.
One of the strangest bits of weirdness I’ve ever found though, was in an encyclopedia. Fascinated with English monarchs, I did a bit of research(thanks, Civilization!) and came across an entry for William the Conqueror. I discovered that not only was every English monarch a direct descendant of his, but also that he exploded at his funeral.
You read that right. William the Conqueror exploded at his funeral.
As a kid, this bit of knowledge delighted me.
To be honest, it still does.
It Contains Specific, but Highly Accurate, Information
Now, I know that a lot of the things can be found through internet research sources. I’ve personally found gads of things on Wikipedia. But, it’s not the same to me for one very important reason.
And that’s accuracy.
The problem with crowd-sourcing when it comes to sharing information is that all too often, the truth becomes whitewashed and filled with a single type of perspective or agenda that’s colored by the current social climate. And yes, it’s easier to not crack open a book. It’s a lot easier to just click a link. But, that doesn’t mean it’s unbiased or even true.
So, for my final reason for why I love encyclopedias is this: encyclopedias are knowledge for the sake of knowledge by people who love to learn.
And, really, that’s reason enough.