Book Nook: The Phone Book-the Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads, Ammon

Nov 15, 2010

Ammon Shea returns to the Book Nook for a third interview. On his initial visit Shea discussed "Reading the OED," a memoir recounting his marvelous dictionary marathon. Fueled by his love of language and massive volumes of espresso, Shea read the entire unabridged Oxford English Dictionary over the course of one year.

Shea returned to the program a year ago to talk about the new Oxford Historical Thesaurus. Shea reads books that very few ordinary readers are likely to consider. His latest project is a study of phone books. 90% of Americans are using cell phones. Has that made telephone directories obsolete? Shea doesn't think so.

In this interview Shea delves in to some fascinating phone book lore. Did you know that we say "Hello" because phone books instructed early telephone users to do so? Shea's investigations of the once ubiquitous phone book led him to study Senate filibusters and phone book rippers.