"The Professor and the Madman"
Every year my mother does something pretty cool for Christmas. She has us answer these questions to create a Christmas list: Something you want, Something you need, Something to Wear and Something to read. Now the last category, Something to read, was expanded to be Something to read/watch/play. That's besides the point.
While I was looking for something to put down for the Something to read category I stumbled across this book, "The Professor and the Madman". People usually say don't judge a book by the cover, but the cover was exactly the reason why I read it. On the cover there is an eye-catching recap of the book that intrigued me. It said:
A Tale Of Murder, Insanity,
And The Making Of The
Oxford English Dictionary
With a recap like that how could I resist! While it was placed on my Christmas list, I did not get it for Christmas. However, I later discovered, it was because my mom (the avid book reader she is) already had it and let me borrow it.
"The Professor and the Madman" starts out fairly slow, and could easily lose the attention of readers if they weren't particularly drawn to the book before starting out with it. The first chapter begins with the definition of murder and an explanation of where the word came from and how it came to be. To be honest, this part was insanely tedious and difficult to read at bed time (my usual reading time). However, the promise of murder and insanity from the front cover kept me reading.
The first chapter picks up a bit by describing a murder in a very unsuspecting town, with a surprising murderer. The story then starts to pick up, revealing a delightful journey of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the sorrowful story of one of the top contributors to the dictionary.
Each chapter begins with a definition, much like the definition of murder in the first chapter. As I mentioned before, it's pretty difficult to read through this part. To be frank, I skimmed right past them to continue reading the story. If it were just the definition I could have lived with it, but when you put the place of origin and how it became to be then it becomes a page or two, and quite a useful sleeping aid.
On a scale of 1-5 I would give this book a three. The story is fascinating but the speed is incredibly slow. You really have to be devoted and interested in the origin of the Oxford English Dictionary to make it through "The Professor and the Madman". However, even with the three star rating, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it if you are a word buff and like to see where words come from.