Word compendiums for the win

It’s hard to even imagine now, but aimlessly browsing bookstores was something I did semi-regularly back in my single and then pre-kid days. One kind of book I’d always keep an eye out for was (for lack of a better name) word compendiums, an author’s curated collection of rare, idiosyncratic, or just plain cool words.

Here’s my own collection of these collections, which also includes a few gifted to me:

How could you not love books with ostentatious, tongue-in-cheek titles like The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate that feature antiquated or unusual words like nepheligenous and bavardage that only logophiles like myself appreciate?

I love them because they catalog the kind of two-dollar words I already collect myself. You can find most of those words in any self-respecting unabridged dictionary, but surrounded by thousands of other less-cool words. These compendiums distill the dictionary into its finest, most potent form, and for that they have my deep respect—not to mention a place on my limited bookshelves.