I Grew Up Reading Dictionaries and Encyclopedias For Fun

woman reading book

As a girl, I was always enchanted by words. It wasn’t enough for me to simply learn their meanings or how to spell them. I wanted to know their origins, their etymologies, and how they fit into the vast tapestry of language. So, from a young age, I would pour myself over dictionaries and encyclopedias, page by page, cover to cover. It wasn’t out of any obligation, but out of pure joy and fascination.

To some, this may seem like an odd pastime for a child; after all, what kind of enjoyment could one possibly derive from reading a dictionary? But for me, the act of turning the pages and discovering new words was like unburying hidden treasures. Each entry was a window into a new world of knowledge, a new facet of human experience; I relished in the feeling of discovery that came with each turn of the page.

As I grew older, my passion for words only intensified. I found myself devouring encyclopedias, poring over the minutiae of history, science, and culture, committing vast swaths of information to memory. Some might have called me a know-it-all, or worse, a pedant. I aspired to be neither of those things, as in my view, the pursuit of knowledge was an end in itself. I never was interested in using my knowledge to impress others or show off; I simply loved learning for its own sake.

Looking back now, I realize that my childhood habit of reading dictionaries and encyclopedias was a gift I unintentionally gave myself. It gave me a deep appreciation for the beauty and complexity of language, and instilled in me a lifelong love of learning. While I may never use the vast majority of the information I gleaned from those weighty tomes, the simple act of acquiring knowledge brings me immeasurable joy.

In college, I pursued a degree in history and later switched majors to English literature. This academic path mirrors my fascinations with the complex interplay between language and culture, and the ways in which language reflects and shapes our social and political realities. I studied the ways in which language is used to maintain power structures, and how it can be used to challenge them. Through it all, my love of words and knowledge continued to grow.

I found myself drawn to books on language and linguistics, immersing myself in the study of grammar, syntax, and semantics. I continued feeding my intrigue of the intricate ways in which words and phrases can be combined to create meaning, and how the nuances of language can shape our perceptions of the world around us.

I also continued exploring the cultural and historical contexts in which language is used, delving into books on anthropology, sociology, and world history. I wanted to understand how different cultures and societies have developed their own unique languages and ways of communicating, and how these languages have evolved over time.

My fascination with words and knowledge only continues to evolve today. Now, as an adult, I continue to read voraciously, always seeking out new knowledge and insights. I read books on science, philosophy, politics, and more, always looking for new perspectives and ideas. 

While I no longer spend hours reading dictionaries and encyclopedias, I know that the passion for learning that I developed as a child will always be with me. For me, the pursuit of knowledge is not just a hobby, but a way of life. I can’t wait to see where it will take me next.

So if you ever find yourself wandering through a library or a bookstore and see a young girl with her nose buried in a dictionary, don’t assume that she’s bored or lonely. She may just be experiencing the thrill of discovery, one word at a time. And who knows – perhaps she’ll grow up to be a writer, a linguist, or a scientist, all thanks to the humble pages of a book.

Related: Knowledge VS Discovery

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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