London, Oct 4 : Even though the Oxford English Dictionary is not everyone's idea of a good relaxing read, Ammon Shea, 37, has completed reading all of the 22,000-page tome.
Shea, who is a removal man from New York, has been dissecting dictionaries since the age of 10, and he spent a year absorbing 59 million words, from A to Zyxt.
His reading room was the basement of his local library, where he would be cooped up for up to 10 hours a day painstakingly making his way through all 20 volumes of the OED.
During his reading, he would come across an interesting word, he would jot the word down and memorise its meaning, and helping him with his reading were the cups of very strong coffee that he had. In the course of his reading, he came across words that became his favourite, words like obmutescence (willfully quiet), hypergelast (a person who won't stop laughing), natiform (shaped like buttocks) and deipnosophist (a person who is learned in the art of dining.)
There were times when he was going through the dictionary that he felt like just giving up, as he was not familiar with any of the words, and in his new book, Reading the Oxford English Dictionary: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, he recalls a low point when he started learning words beginning with the letter N.
"Some days I feel as if I do not actually speak the English language, or understand it with any degree of real comprehension," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
"It is as if I am visiting a foreign country, armed with one of those silly little tourist phrase book...I may know enough to order a cup of coffee or inquire where the bathroom is," he stated.
When asked the reason for his wanting to read through the whole dictionary, he explained that reading the entire OED was a challenge he set himself many years ago.
"The OED, more so than any other dictionary, encompasses the entire history of all English's glories and foibles, the grand concepts and whimsical conceits that make our language what it is today," he said.
"It's a great read. It is much more engrossing, enjoyable and moving to read than you would typically think a non-narrative body of text could ever possibly be," he added.