Reference Books 1 – Internet 0

My daughter had to make a poster with ten facts about Abingdon where we live for her Geography homework tonight. She wanted to search out really interesting things; putting “Abingdon is on the river Thames” and a picture of a boat wasn’t good enough for her, (good girl!).

So she started researching on the internet (including looking at the Abingdon Blog which is a daily read for me) and found out stuff like:

  • Which towns Abingdon is twinned with;
  • Abingdon’s history of bun throwing to celebrate royal and historic events. We had one last year for Wills & Kate see here, and have another soon for the diamond jubilee.
  • When the last MG motor car rolled off the lines
  • That Abingdon school celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2006.

…plus a few more, but she was left with one gap.

After a bit of thought I came up with the annual elections for the Mayor of Ock Street.  This is an occasion in the town for much drinking and morris dancing. The residents of the street can cast a vote at the Brewery Tap pub (on Ock Street, of course) for the mock Mayor.  A ceremonial job only, the Mayor is the squire of the Abingdon Morris side for the year.

Anyway, we looked it up on the internet, and found the Abingdon Morris page on the subject – but that just has an account of the latest contest. Then I remembered…

“I have a book,” I said, and went off to the Gaskell reference library.  I came back with The English Year by Steve Roud, which is “A month-by-month guide to the nation’s customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night“.

On the entry for June 20, is a history of Abingdon’s mock Mayor elections, and a sidebar about the tradition of such customs.

This is an absolutely gorgeous book that I acquired as part of renewing my membership of the Folio Society a couple of years ago. It is a delight to delve into and see what is going on around the country at any particular time of year, and the historical background to it.

Problem solved. Books won, internet lost!

I am guilty too, of tending to refer to Wikipedia these days, when I have a wall full of reference books in my dining room and should be using them. I do love reference books, and think I might start a new series of posts about them as I have many favourites.  Do you still use reference books?  Which do you use?  I’d love to hear.

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I “bought” this book – To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
The English Year by Steve Roud (Penguin Reference Hardback 2006)

5 thoughts on “Reference Books 1 – Internet 0

  1. Of course I use reference books! Pevsner (all six London volume),The Oxford Companion to Wine, Birds of the Western Palearctic (abridged 2 volume edition), The Compact NASA atlas of the Solar System, Oxford Companion to Food, The Comprehensive Times Atlas of the World to name a few. At work I have hundreds in my office and of course tens of thousands of relevant ones in the Library. Most of my reading is from textbooks/reference books. Novels make up a very small fraction.

  2. Excellent news Dark Puss. I generally only tend to use mine these days when I have a quiz to set, but I should use them more routinely when I need to do research as I have a good collection (which you’ll hear more about another day).

  3. Yes. Local information is quite difficult to find on the Internet. I also think it is hard to find details of events that happened pre-internet. I really struggled when looking up details of India in the 1970s. Books are often better than the internet!

  4. Pingback: 2012 in First Lines « Annabel's House of Books

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