I have bookshelves in every room of my house, except the storage room, and more than one bookshelf in a few. My books are frequently on and off the shelves, piled on the night-table and in all kinds of unlikely places around my house that reveal my reading patterns in any given week.
I want to boast about all of them, but I’ll start with a few that have been useful recently as I edit manuscripts and student writing. First, of course, there’s the Canadian Press Stylebook (also available online), Editing Canadian English (Editors’ Association of Canada EAC), and several versions of the Oxford dictionary (Illustrated and Canadian are my favorites).
I have several specialty books in medieval costume, books on how to write in various genres, books of facts and almanacs, dictionaries, and specialties such as the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature, which is useful for decent short definitions of genre and style.
For years I’ve recommended Jack Hodgins’ A Passion for Narrative to prose writers. Last year, for the poetry course at UBC, I used In Fine Form by Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve, as well as The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. Our provincial libraries will be pleased to hear I finally broke down and purchased copies of my own.
Some of my reference books have sentimental value. Back in the early 1990s, I bought a four-volume copy of the Canadian Encyclopedia, and it still takes up the bottom of one shelf although I usually search the online version. I still have an ancient Standard Book of Facts in its plain black cover that I inherited from my Dad, and an old King James’ Bible he gave me when I was 12 – and both come in handy for references.
What reference books line the bookshelves in your house? What have been useful? And are any “of sentimental value”? Please leave a comment and let’s share resources.