Few of us are likely to duplicate the feat of Ammon Shea, who read all 21,730 pages of the Oxford English Dictionary and in 2008 published a book about his accomplishment. (I wrote about Reading the OED here and here.) But anyone with a spare 45 minutes can easily and pleasurably gambol through the 400 or so words in The Dictionary of Difficult Words, a pulchritudinous and edifying new book by Dictionary.com lexicographer Jane Solomon, with cheerful illustrations by Louise Lockhart.
The book’s primary audience is children between the ages of 7 and 12, but as Jane* writes in an author’s note, “it’s written to appeal to adults as well. … This book welcomes all readers, even those who would never sit down and read a traditional dictionary cover to cover.”
And even adults who are possessed of a reasonably expansive vocabulary and pretty good Scrabble skills will discover new words in The Dictionary of Difficult Words. I certainly did.
Case in point: doryphore.