POLL: Dopers are a curious lot -- and have been since childhood

Continuing the discussion from SDMB To Me:

Let’s just see how many of us as children sat and read the encyclopedia just for fun. And not just to find the sex stuff. (I learned what intercourse was from the encyclopedia, and boy was I shocked! People do WHAT?? :scream: )

We never had any of the high-end encyclopedias. Ours was the kind you got one book at a time from the grocery store. Along with drinking glasses and dishes with the Golden Wheat pattern on them. (Now a desirable “vintage” item like much of the crap from our younger years.)

And did/do you read dictionaries? You know, you go to look up a word (even when you’re on a deadline) and get sucked into the vortex of language, origins, idioms, variant spellings? Good times.

Aside: for word lovers, this is a deliciously fun site, especially for kids (of all ages): Visual Thesaurus. It’s $20/year to subscribe, and worth every penny. But you can try it out for free-- and do try it out.

In the poll, choose all that apply:

  • As a kid, I read the encyclopedia for fun
  • As a kid, I read the dictionary for fun
  • I’m post-internet, but I peruse Wikipedia and online dictionaries for fun
  • As an adult, I do all three of these
  • I never did any of these – being too smart makes you a nerdy show-off

0 voters

I read World Book encyclopedia as a kid. ‘P’ was the best. Physics, photography and perception were the highlights.

We had that grocery store encyclopedia set. Kept it on a book stand next to my bed and read the whole thing page by page. Don’t recall reading a dictionary that way but do still look up words.

My grandmother was the town librarian, and my father was a voracious reader, so there is something in the genes. Once, a friend and I decided to spend the afternoon finding the best word in the dictionary. I don’t remember what version of dictionary it was, but it was a fairly good big one.

What we found:


It never ocurred to me to look up the sex stuff in the encyclopedia :man_facepalming: I remember completing it though: I wrote in the article about the Persian Shah the date he died, I still remember it was 1980.

We were given an old set of World Book encyclopedias. I think the set was from the 30s or 40s (I grew up in the 60s-70s).

My favorite letters were D & H. I loved looking at all of the breeds of dogs and horses. To this day I remember most of them. I can still smell that old book/glossy page smell they had.

I don’t know if I’d say it was fun, as such, but it was interesting, and satisfying.

I had to read the encyclopedia at various public and school libraries so I never did read any one of them A-Z. I tried mightily, with the help of my younger sister, to convince the 'rents to purchase one but they never did.

I did read our copy of the dictionary several times. It was my dream as a kid to have the big, bad-ass copy of the OED at home instead of in the public library; I was able to make that dream come true in my 30s.

And who doesn’t love spending an afternoon or evening or afternoon & evening hitting Random Article on Wikipedia over and over and over again?

I usually only hit the Random Article button once per session. Afterwards I usually follow the hyperlinks.

Nerd that I am, that is my definition of fun.

Where are my nitpickers?? In the poll, the third option says:

…but there are only two options above this one. Originally, I had three, but deleted one. C’mon, peeps, I can’t be allowed to get away with this!

No access to encyclopedias when I was a kid.

I used to read the World Book in school.

I should have covered that option, at least with a “N/A” choice. You don’t get a sense of your poll’s deficiencies until it’s been up for a while.

I’d be interested in some background… no school encyclopedia? What about dictionary? Were you a curious child anyway? Or you had other stuff on your mind…

It wasn’t ideal for that purpose. I remember running to tell my grandma I just French-kissed her dog, because I had read the definition, “a kiss in which the tongues touch”.

I got a dictionary in 4th grade (“includes new words like t-cell and e-mail”) which I still have. Most of the random words I looked up were either already known to me or so obscure that I still couldn’t make sense of them even after reading their definitions.

I was probably in middle school before I had unfettered access to the school library. Before that we only went as part of scheduled class time and only for long enough to check out a couple books or so. I remember reading those Eyewitness Encyclopedias in middle school, I don’t know if those count.

In high school we got a computer at home with Encarta, and I certainly spent plenty of time browsing it. Dunno if I could still be considered a kid at that point.

I think I was curious as a kid… just didn’t really know about encyclopedias or what they were about.

Ah, so that is French-kissing? I am getting the feeling it may still not be too late to look that sex stuff up.

I was especially fascinated by the clear overlays of the human body in the World Book encyclopedia. Skeleton, organs, circulatory system etc.

I have fond memories of the books in the Life Science Library series, and the Life Nature Library. Especially these two:

We had a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in our house. I never looked at them much except when writing papers for school. On the other hand, we used to also get a “Book of the Year” from EB every year which was basically a recap of the previous year, and I always did enjoy looking through those.

I had the World Book Encyclopedia at home as a kid. In hindsight, it was pretty pathetic. I remember that the entry for the Beatles was just three sentences. So was the one for Rock and Roll, which was described as a sub genre of Jazz. It always had good maps though, and if you wanted to learn as much as possible about World War I in just four pages, I can’t think of a better alternative at the time. By Junior High and exposure to decent libraries, it was an embarrassment.