My Desert Island Book Choice: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

By Posted in - On Reading on April 11th, 2010 0 Comments

Writers often get asked “If you found yourself marooned on a desert island and you could only have one book with you, which one would you choose?”

Such a hard question to answer! Our moods and tastes change with the passage of time, and I’ve often thought it unlikely that any one book could keep me occupied, whatever my mood. Then tonight I reached for my battered copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to clarify a point of research and it struck me forcibly that I could have no better companion on a desert island than this one book.

Every time I dip into it for one quick search I find so many intriguing additional references to follow that hours fly by by as I happily follow a trail of information crumbs through its labyrinthine pages. With each new entry, dozens of new story ideas occur to me—more than the remaining years of my life will ever afford me time to write.

So it is my dog-eared copy of Brewer’s that I would ask for on a desert island, knowing I would never be bored while I had it with me. My mind would fly wherever and whenever it wanted to, well beyond the confines of any island prison.

And if the evil overlord who banished me to my island allowed me a second book it would have to be the forthcoming Brewer’s Dictionary of  London Phrase and Fable (April 2010), edited by the author of Chamber’s London Gazetteer, Russ Wiley.


Amazon product description:

“From the Bloomsbury Group to the Camberwell Carrot, Samuel Johnson to Boris Johnson and Oranges and Lemons to apples and pears, Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable gathers together the people, places, events, culture, anecdotes, slang and catchphrases that make London one of the greatest cities on Earth. Perfect for looking up something interesting that you’ve found on your travels through the city, or simply browsing through to impress your London friends with the breadth of your knowledge — you’re bound to find something that they’ve never even heard of before. So whether you’re a Londoner through and through, a newly-arrived citizen, a frequent visitor or you prefer to experience this bustling and cacophonous city from the safety of your armchair, Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable will bring the heart and soul of London to your bookshelf.”

So now it’s your turn—you tell me, which book would you request if you were marooned on a desert island?

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