The Professor and The Madman
A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
Simon Winchester's historical account of how the Oxford English Dictionary was made is complete with humor, sympathy and drama. The OED was decades in the making and required the help of thousands of English-reading citizens including Dr. W.C. Minor a certified criminal lunatic housed in an asylum outside of London who contributed over 10,000 words to the dictionary.
The book is also replete with cool words (such as replete) sure to satisfy even the least curious among us.
I recommend the newest edition which contains a 16-page explanation of the research he did, fascinating.
I'm fast-tracking this page turner to my top-ten quick read list.