Why read a dictionary? Because it’s there.

Dictionary Ammon Shea in The Guardian:

I find myself subject to the entire range of emotions and reactions that a great book will call forth from its reader. I chuckle, laugh out loud, smile wistfully, cringe, widen my eyes in surprise, and even feel sadness—all from the neatly ordered rows of words and their explanations. All of the human emotions and experiences are right there in this dictionary, just as they would be in any fine work of literature. They just happen to be alphabetised.

I keep paper and pen by my chair so that I can write down the things in the dictionary that I find interesting. After the first hour I realize that I’ve been writing down far too much, and that if I continue taking notes at this rate I’ll never finish reading. But there is just so much in the dictionary that I wish were in my head, and I read with the constant knowledge that I’m passing by things that later I’ll want to know. The answers to questions that I’ve had for years and the answers to questions that I never knew I had are coming up constantly.

These are some of the pleasures of reading the dictionary, and they are indeed sublime. The frustrations are considerably more pedestrian. After the first three hours of reading I have the kind of headache that makes life feel unfair. It is a pounding that keeps pace with my heartbeat, as though I had a second heart, located in the lower-left back part of my head, the sole purpose of which is to pump tiny spasms of pain, rather than blood.