Margaret’s Sunday Quickie: Reference

Well, Tim already took the book that immediately came to mind for the question of useful nonfiction: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, though I find an older version much more useful.  The newer ones I found were all abridged — and there is nothing, nothing so frustrating as finding that the fascinating cross-reference you were caught by is one of the entries that got chucked.  The entries often serve as a jumping-off point for story ideas for me; I’ll have to go do in-depth research, but it’s good for sparking that first fragment.  I still love that it’s got several entries on famous frauds.

I’m away from home at the moment, so I can’t do what I usually do for questions like this: go and check my shelves for what I’ve forgotten.  But I do remember that the Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology — both volumes — was an excellent source not just for old theories of magic, but for how people interact in this world — the paranoia of hidden knowledge, the vying for status as who was the true possessor of the Secret, and so on. 

And then there’s the Internet as a reference tool, but I’m not sure that it counts as nonfiction.

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