Tuesday, 10 May 2011

For which I will never forgive myself

I once passed on a free set of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 2005, I was living and teaching in Japan. My high school library was doing some “spring cleaning” and decided to get rid of the complete set of the Oxford English Dictionary—all 20 volumes and supplements—and offered them to me. Free of charge. The librarian even wheeled them all across the school to my office. But at the last minute, I said no.

Why did I do it? I figured it would cost several hundred dollars to ship them back to the States—money I didn’t have. I was already spending a hundred dollars to ship other books I bought over the course of the year. And I didn’t have access to a car—I could hardly have walked them all to the post office anyway.
I knew I’d regret it. I knew I’d mentally kick myself for the rest of my life. The OED still waits on my Amazon Wish-List, taunting me with its $995 price tag.

Incidentally, I have been able to afford interesting books about the OED, including The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester, which I highly recommend.

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