Your favorite reference books

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Lupine
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Your favorite reference books

Post by Lupine »

As an attempting writer I have several books within arms reach of the computer. I'm sure we all have them. Those little "go to" sources for arcane knowledge or elsewise useless trivia.
Here's some of mine:

The Fossil Trail by Ian Tattersall: The byline of this book pretty much says it all "How we know what we think we know about human evolution". It's a good overview of human origins with dates, places, and names. I have it on the right side of my desk beside one of the dictionaries, the thesaurus, and a few baby name books (more on them later).

The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology: Basically one-stop shopping for all things mythological. This book has helped out on two novels and will help out on many more. It is probably the best reference of this kind around. It's off to my left.

The Historical Atlas of the Ancient World, Historical Atlas of the Classical World, Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, Historical Atlas of the Early Modern World, Historical Atlas of the 19th Century, and the Historical Atlas of the 20th Century all by John Haywood: These are some of my favorite reference books. They're basically a collection of maps detailing history. If you're writing historical fiction these books are an absolute must.

Skyguide: A field guide to the heavens, revised edition: A handy little book on stars and constellations.

Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon: No description necessary and to supplement it I also have three baby naming books.

The Conspiracy Files by David Southwell & Sean Twist: a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rundown of various conspiracy theories. Good reference if you're writing about such things.

English Through the Ages by William Brohaugh: Good if you want your historical characters to speak the right way.
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Re: Your favorite reference books

Post by RJDiogenes »

That all sounds great, especially that last one. I'll have to look for that. :yes:

I have quite a few reference books lying around; I love browsable info books. I'll jot a few down when I go upstairs. But an interesting resource that I have for the creative genres is a rather large collection of GURPS books. Basically, they are role-playing sourcebooks. But they have volumes on an amazing variety of topics: From genres like Cyberpunk (and Cthulhupunk) and Espionage to cultures like Russia and Japan to historical eras like Middle Ages and Ice Age to crazy stuff like Atomic Horror and Cliffhangers and Mecha (and Warehouse 23) and on and on. Here's a list. I have a few dozen of these and they're a blast to just browse through randomly. And the thing is, RPG players think similarly to writers, so the way these books are organized and focused are perfect for writers. And each volume also comes with a list of references to track down more detailed info. Fun stuff. :yes:
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Re: Your favorite reference books

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Here's a handful of books I have laying around in easy reach: The Times Atlas Of World History, American Chronicle, Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and Webster's New Reference Library. And Roget's Thesaurus. I also have a bunch of those Time-Life book series that I bought ages ago: History of the United States, Great Ages of Man, Great Cities, and a couple of others.
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Re: Your favorite reference books

Post by Lupine »

You should also try out The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun. Bare-bones, but tons of info.
I should also add to my list, along with Timetables..., A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough, What Happened When by Gordon Carruth (that came with a "Carmen Santiago" game), The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs , Weeds of the West, Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman, The Atlas of Early Man, by Jacquetta Hawkes, The Illustrated History of Weaponry by Chuck Wills, and The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. That last one is great for when anyone tries to convince you how historically accurate the Bible is.
RJDiogenes wrote: I also have a bunch of those Time-Life book series that I bought ages ago: History of the United States, Great Ages of Man, Great Cities, and a couple of others.
I have a few of the Time-Life books in back as well; Our Fabulous Century is pretty good. plus a bunch of others.
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Re: Your favorite reference books

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I put Timetables Of History in my Shopping Cart; English Through The Ages seems to be out of print.

I do have a couple of encyclopedias of Dinosaurs and other extinct animals (as well as Mythological animals). Speaking of the Bible, I have a couple of nice reference books on the Apocrypha. I just got a nice book from Scientific American Book Club called The Compendium Of Physics that looks like it has a lot of great info in encyclopedia format.
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Re: Your favorite reference books

Post by Lupine »

I think that The Case for Pluto will be kept around my desk. In addition to detailing the fiasco at Prague (and that meeting really was a mess) but the book also goes into detail about the dwarf planets like Eris, Haumea, and Makemake. This are fairly new bodies so my other books don't cover them.
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Re: Your favorite reference books

Post by Sean »

I don't do a whole lot of writing, so mine aren't really writing based, but I have a few I've come to rely on in a pinch.

501 French Verbs has been a godsend...provides all possible conjugations to 501 verbs most commonly used in the French language, and helps you with those that aren't in the book, as most follow a similar pattern.

The Last Lecture ...I don;t think this was written as a reference book, but it has become my stand by if I need to wipe my mind clean, or think of something inspirational to say. Quite a good read as well.

Those are the only two "reference texts" that populate my desk at the moment...
"The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer."-Victor Borge

"I have been busier than a one armed worm caught in a tape dispenser."- Astrosmurf, Tuesday July 22, 2008
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Re: Your favorite reference books

Post by RJDiogenes »

I have several language books as well, including a Latin dictionary, as I sometimes like to have characters spout words and phrases in another language. Several years ago, I bought a Cherokee dictionary that is interesting, but close to useless-- it's Cherokee-to-English only. :lol:
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