How long would it take you to read a dictionary?
Not keen on reading? Do you have trouble finding a novel that takes your interest? Why not follow Ammon Shea’s example and start reading a dictionary?
Mr Shea owns over 1,000 dictionaries and he likes to read them for fun.
He recently spent a year reading all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. The dictionary contains more than 20,000 pages and over 59 million words.
As he read from A to Z, he noted down interesting words in a ledger. This includes words such as happify, meaning to make someone happy, and tripudiate which means to dance, skip or leap for joy.
Mr Shea also kept a diary about his experience which has since been turned into a best-selling book.
Why did he do this?
He claims it was fun: "I’ve always enjoyed reading dictionaries, they are far more interesting than people give them credit for."
It appears that it was not his goal to sound more intelligent through learning and using larger and more complex words.
"I’m not against big words or fancy or obscure words, but I’m opposed to using them for their own sake," he said.
In fact, as a result of reading so many words, Mr Shea often forgot his everyday vocabulary. He wrote, "My head was so full of words that I often had trouble forming simple sentences."
Mr Shea is not alone in his love of reading dictionaries. Elaine Higgleton, a representative of Collins Cobuild dictionaries, explained that thousands of crossword and Scrabble fans read dictionaries for fun and to improve their game.
Ms Higgleton did however note that, "It’s probably not the best way to learn English, and you’d learn more than you need."
It is not known how many of the 59 million words Mr Shea has remembered but he has certainly made history with his eccentric hobby.