Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, March 31, 2008


The Man Who Made Lists is getting a lot of press recently. Earlier this month, I heard the author Joshua Kendall speak at the Boston Athenaeum (

Kendall profiles Peter Mark Roget, the man behind the thesaurus. Roget’s family had a history of mental illness. His uncle committed suicide, slitting his throat in front of Roget. Kendall relied on a number of unreleased papers and correspondence for his biography. According to Kendall, Roget made lists as a way to make sense of the world/ battle depression.

I tend to take things like the thesaurus for granted. It's just one of those things that's just there. However , it apparently has generated a fair amount of controversy with some arguing that the thesaurus is a crutch for weak writers. The thesaurus, like the dictionary, is an evolving work with words being added or definitions changing.

If you think this sounds interesting, you may enjoy The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary.

New York Times,



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