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Download Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages Audiobook, by Ammon Shea Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 5 3.44 (32 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ammon Shea Narrator: William Dufris Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2008 ISBN: 9780061735882
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"I'm reading the OED so you don't have to. If you are interested in vocabulary that is both spectacularly useful and beautifully useless, read on..."

So reports Ammon Shea, the tireless, word-obsessed, and more than slightly masochistic author of Reading the OED. The word lover's Mount Everest, the OED has enthralled logophiles since its initial publication 80 years ago. Weighing in at 137 pounds, it is the dictionary to end all dictionaries.

In 26 chapters filled with sharp wit, sheer delight, and a documentarian's keen eye, Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word, and revealing the most obscure, hilarious, and wonderful gems he discovers along the way.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Oddly inspiring…Shea has walked the wildwood of our gnarled, ancient speech and returned singing incomprehensible sounds in a language that turns out to be our own.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Delicious…a lively lexicon.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Readworthy.”

    New York Times Magazine

  • “Shea describes his experiences reading in his local library as well as the reactions of his friends to his yearlong project. Best of all, Dufris reads every word with enthusiasm, tempting the listener to delve into a dictionary just for the fun of it.”

    AudioFile

  • An AudioFile Earphones Award winner
  • AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dominique | 2/17/2014

    " It's sucked me in so far, i'm about 8 pages in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob Lake | 2/11/2014

    " some what entertaining, but best for dedicated word mavens "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margo | 2/2/2014

    " Similar to A J Jacobs book about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, Shea spends a year reading the 22 or so volumes of the OED. Not much to hang a book on although full of interesting word histories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen Brown | 1/29/2014

    " A fascinating and entertaining overview of the Oxford English Dictionary and some of its most obscure entries. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 1/25/2014

    " After reading and disliking Shea's book about the phone book, I struck this from my list. Then I realized that I owned this book and was therefore required to read it. Heh. I even read the whole thing, even though I wanted to stop 1/4 of the way through. The concept is intriguing - both in the sense of a doing-something-during-one-year memoir and as an appreciator of words, word origins and the study of nerdy things like dictionaries. But this turned out pretty boring - both the descriptions and the author's definitions of words he found in the OED that were interesting (to him). A few laugh out loud moments, but overall not very enjoyable. Recommended to only the dictionary obsessed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meagan | 1/21/2014

    " I have to admit I've been chuckling aloud throughout this delightful book about reading the dictionary. This is a book about reading the dictionary and I'm laughing out loud over it! Kudos to Ammon Shea for his witty observations and conversational style, which make the book such a kick. I also think I've earned some kind of uber-nerd badge for enjoying this as much as I did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ayne Ray | 1/19/2014

    " I am geeky enough to be a tremendous fan about anything dealing with the OED, so this was quite an enjoyable read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg | 1/14/2014

    " If you like words, with some dry wit, you will like this book. I laughed out loud at several points. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leonard | 12/27/2013

    " A funny quirky book for people who are word- lovers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Orin | 12/26/2013

    " A lovely book. You may need to reread it many times. Keep it in your lectory. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sam | 12/16/2013

    " I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, to be honest. I was super-excited to read it, but I couldn't click with the writing style - the author was a bit too misanthropic for my (admittedly, delicate) tastes, and I couldn't quite mesh with his prose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick Ahern | 12/8/2013

    " Humorous and interesting book about one man's journey towards finishing the dictionary. You will laugh and learn some delightful words along the way. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurie | 12/7/2013

    " Collection of selected words with amusing definitions and/or anecdotes. Not a steady read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lora | 11/11/2013

    " Very entertaining! I loved his chapter where he described the apartment of the woman who most influenced him to even consider reading the dictionary of dictionaries. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Edward Gero | 8/10/2013

    " It's hysterical and learned and filled with delicious words. A must read for word lovers... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 7/27/2013

    " This book was like nothing I have read before. The author is so accessible and engaging and then I remember that he had spent an entire year reading in a library basement for over 8 hours a day--on purpose. I can't wrap my mind around it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelsi | 10/12/2012

    " This book was rather witty and interesting, both the words he chose and the parts at the beginning of each chapter. I'm actually considering reading this again to try and retain all the words. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 A. | 3/31/2012

    " Not bad but not what I'd hoped it would be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 3/20/2012

    " Is it bad that reading this book makes me want to read a dictionary myself? Shea's love of words is contagious. Such a fun easy read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina O'reilly | 3/9/2012

    " I learned some amazing words. Fun to read about the process of reading the OED. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vic | 2/11/2012

    " This was a lot of fun. I learned several delightful words, such as velleity, lant, and obganiate. And I forgot countless more delightful words. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber Polo | 11/28/2011

    " This one is not working as an audiobook. You have to see the words to enjoy it, yet the narrator is great at pronounciation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tama | 7/31/2011

    " A small book, yet a fine book that left me letabund. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William | 6/19/2011

    " It's funny and a bit dull "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 4/5/2011

    " Delightful. I now use the words "jive-ass" and "futilitarian" on a daily basis. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margo | 2/25/2011

    " Similar to A J Jacobs book about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, Shea spends a year reading the 22 or so volumes of the OED. Not much to hang a book on although full of interesting word histories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 2/13/2011

    " FUNNY funny. Also, I think this guy might be a little nuts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie Trinity | 2/11/2011

    " Difficult and unexpectedly dry in parts, unfortunately too much whining in other parts. But overall, entertaining. Worth the time invested. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 1/10/2011

    " As the author says in the book, this is a reading log of his journey through the OED. He found some great words and definitely kept me interested, but in the end, the core of the book is really just a wordlist. I love weird words, so that's good for me, but perhaps others would disagree. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Louise | 12/6/2010

    " The author's year with the OED with a chapter for each letter. Quick read but not too much here. I was thinking more of something like Simon Winchester's book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jane | 10/18/2010

    " It amazes me how I never remember any of the so-called great words in word books like this one. Farding is the only one I can still define. A.J.Jacobs' book about reading the encyclopedia was a lot more entertaining - but with the same retention rate in terns of information, ie, very little indeed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 9/11/2010

    " I love reading books in this genre. Plus, made me want to get out a dictionary and read it...in particular the OED! "

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About the Author
Author Ammon Shea

Ammon Shea is the author of two previous books on obscure words, Depraved English and Insulting English (written with Peter Novobatzky). He read his first dictionary, Merriam Webster's Second International, ten years ago, and followed it up with the sequel, Webster's Third International.

About the Narrator

William Dufris attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland-Gorham before pursuing a career in voice work in London and then the United States. He has won more than twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, was voted one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century by AudioFile magazine, and won the prestigious Audie Award in 2012 for best nonfiction narration. He lives with his family in Maine.