Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions, Paperback

Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions Paperback

Edited by Philippa Waring

2 out of 5 (1 rating)


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Reference works
  • ISBN: 9780285633964



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For once this book has nothing to do with a GoodReads giveaway. It is merely a random book picked up from the ether. It's worth noting that I started this one with the intent of reading it straight through. This is fairly unusual for a reference book but since I have recently instituted a policy of reading three books at a time it made some amount of sense. One book in the current reading pile, according to the new scheme, should be easily consumable in tiny interruptable bits. This was that book. As a book to be read straight through this is fairly unacceptable. It's redundant, unentertaining and pretty poorly organized. To this my diligent reader may say, simply, "duh, it's a dictionary" but it goes beyond that. When I was a child I read the dictionary and it's not all that terrible. There is, at least, a sense of variety. Waring's definitions all have an infuriating sameness to them that makes one grit ones teeth and turn the page with increasing hopeful vigor as time goes on. However, as a reference work it has its shortcomings as well. Since I've read through the first third of the book in its entirety I can tell you that it is, at times, inappropriately self-referential. If one is going to be using a book by randomly hopping into the middle bits looking up superstitions related to the word "badger" then phrases like "as stated earlier" and "as we said before" are rather nonsensical. It seems clear the book was written in some sort of order which doesn't match up well with the order of use. There is also a problem with organization in that some entries are not sufficiently self-referential. Terms which are typically considered synonymous bear strikingly different information and do NOT refer to each other in any way. So the results of any reference depend at least in part on luck and choosing the exact right word. Lastly, the book is terribly dated. Despite its publication date in 1997, most of the entries appear to date from the 70s.In summary, this book is going on my shelf for later reference but I'll remember the lack of organization and work a bit harder at using it when its use is required. Not the best dictionary ever but better than nothing.