The World Book Encyclopedia

World Book

I was rummaging around in my parents attic recently wondering how we were going to get rid of all this shit when the time comes to get rid of all this shit but that’s a subject for another post. Looking over the seemingly thousands of boxes they have stashed neatly to the side I noticed one marked “World Books”. I knew instantly the treasures contained within this cardboard square.

For those of you over the age of 40 The World Book was our internet, our window to the world. At the time, it seemed every conceivable topic was covered in those massive volumes, A-Z. And then each year we got a new book, basically the previous year in review, covering any new discoveries or matters that had taken place during that time.

Now if your family owned a complete set of Encyclopedias there were a couple of givens, 1; an Encyclopedia salesman knocked on your door and 2; you had a very sturdy bookcase somewhere in your home. Once these remarkable books graced our threshold the most often spoken words by my parents became “Go look it up”. It seemed that every answer, to every question was contained somewhere in the glossy pages of these books with the added benefit of color pictures and transparencies (remember the Human Body Transparent Anatomical Illustration).

As an eight year old I traveled all over the world through these pages. I learned about presidents, wars, countries, people, plants, rocks, bugs and boobs all within the safe confines of our living room. The adventures were endless. The knowledge earthshaking and the thirst it created for more unchallenged even to this day. Over the course of the next ten years these book provided me and my siblings with the expertise to write papers, build science projects, explore and escape. The choices were simple and the information concise. Now we google a topic and are bombarded with selections. Verifying what is true and real has become more of a challenge than wading through the volumes of data. In my time if you footnoted The World Book Encyclopedia on a paper the teacher didn’t give it a second glance, it’s the World Book it has to be true.

One day, many years ago, my wife and I attended a yard sale (either I was in trouble over something or she caught me at a weak moment I can’t remember). An incomplete set of World Books were being sold for $10.00. As I opened volume A and felt the pages, the colors, the text and even the smell took me back in time. I asked my wife if I could buy them for our children and she said no, we didn’t have the space and the kids wouldn’t use them over the internet. Although deep down I knew she made good points I wondered if she was right. With my DNA coursing through their veins wouldn’t they have had the same imagination and thirst for knowledge the eight year old me had when The World Book Encyclopedia expanded my view and my understanding of the world? Probably not.


About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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8 Responses to The World Book Encyclopedia

  1. Jeanne says:

    Have not thought about encyclopedias in forever. There was never a set in the home I grew up in but I desperately would have liked to so in my married years I bought a garage sale find for $3.00 and my husband and his friends talked about this ad nausea. ???? I kept it for a few years until the internet took over and I needed space on my bookcase. Something had to go. Happy post to read this morning. J

    Liked by 1 person

    • My parents bought them on the installment plan because they were very expensive. I remember vividly the tired and old looking salesman sitting in our den working hard to close the sale. Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patty says:

    Yes, we had them also. As a matter of fact, I believe they are still in the cabinet at the same spot in the living-room at my parents house.
    Came in very handy at times my little brother asked the most unbelievable questions extreme early in the morning (back then I was not a morning person) and I could say ‘g look it up’. Funny thing; I can’t remember the last time he looked something up in a book, while me…can’t think of a life without a book and/or the internet. So I believe it’s not a question of DNA only;-)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Yes, we had a similar set and my mother would say.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Phone’s messed up pressed send by mistake! Anyway, Mum would say ” Look it up, research sharpens the mind…” I say that now and feel kind of sad as the kids reach for the laptop or phone, rather than a book…

    Liked by 1 person

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