Speaking of Webster, did you know how politically-charged the writing of dictionaries has been historically? For more on this, check out The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published, by David Skinner. According to Skinner, "ain't" really upset the lexicographic apple cart. You can find this wonderful book in our American History section. This is the same section where we keep The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, a book by Simon Winchester that blew my view of dictionaries and language as static. Did you know that the Oxford English Dictionary (or "OED," as the cool-kids call it) was written by a bunch of old white British dudes? And that one of them was locked up? Written, no less, on a bunch of index cards, like so many (terrible) notes for high school research papers. Winchester himself is a pretty interesting character: he's a former Oxford geologist. I dig that because I was an English and Geology double-major as an undergrad. One of the greatest things for word nerds about geology is how many awesome adjectives there are available for the naming of rocks. For example, the word "vuggy," which I tried desperately to get Patrick Somerville to include in his amaze-- book This Bright River.
How about this excerpt from the chapter "Sex and Bread" for all you fresh spring lovers? Just a little sumpin' sumpin' from Mark Forsyth's book The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language: "Freud says that everything was secretly sexual. But etymologists know that sex is secretly food. For example, mating with somebody was originally just sharing your food, or meat, with them (meat meant food of any kind and not just flesh). Likewise, your companion is somebody with whom you share your bread (from the Latin panis)" (34).
Finally we have the words in titles, which any writer who isn't lying can tell you are difficult to choose. From Dan Wilbur's How Not to Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-Free Life (available in the humor section), we have a series of classic book covers with incredibly descriptive new titles. On page 78 there's the childhood favorite by Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar, retitled Eat Until You Feel Pretty. Then there's Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which is really Skipping Dinner Is Like Dropping Acid (99). Also hilarious: Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, which we all know should have been called Way Easier to Watch than Read (91).