by Sharon, May 30, 2005 3:25 PM
"One of my favorite ways of reading is to pull a book off the shelf and open it at random. That's the great thing about reference books like dictionaries or encyclopedias. These books are treasure troves ? dip in anywhere, let chance take you, lead you off. Where did that come from? What is that old saying? Which god or goddess was that? These books have been a jump-start many times when I'm stuck for an idea. I can see them inspiring poetry, stories, or songs in others, too. Each contains many brief entries and some longer articles. For instance, from Walker's Myths and Secrets: 'Fly: popular soul-symbol in many ancient religions, due to a belief that women could conceive children by swallowing a fly bearing the soul of a previously deceased person.' Other entries discuss holidays, historical figures, tall tales, and origins of folk songs such as 'Turkey in the Straw.'"