There was a time, BG (before Google), when to find information, you would refer to a large faux leather-bound book.

The family encyclopaedia.

Say I need ‘the height of a giraffe’.

You’d go to the room that stored your compendiums.

A letter reference on the spine would help you select the correct tome.  ‘F-J’.

Then a flick through the pages, that smell, to the G’s.

There, you’d discover somewhere between ginseng and Girl Guides… giraffe.

And then magic happens.


A Google search would tell you the fact. Giraffes are approximately 5.5 metres.

You’ll also get some ads and a link to Giraffe restaurants.



Yet because of the encyclopaedia’s design, you get drawn in.

They’re more than a book of facts, they are factual books. Written by people who want to win your attention with alphabetical awesomeness.

That’s the best bit.

After digesting the giraffe fact, you can’t help but read a little about ginseng and discover that the Girl Guides were founded by Agnes Baden-Powell. Not Robert’s wife, his sister.


You don’t get that with The Google.


Did you (or do you still) use the wonder of the encyclopaedia?

I’d love to know what you think. Please leave your comments here.

Be Brilliant!



  1. September 22nd 2022 by Paul Limb

    I love a good encyclopedia but dont use them now.
    Even with Google you can get drawn down a rabbit hole though. Click one link, leads to another, and another and before you know it, you’re looking at fluffy cats on You Tube 🙂

  2. September 22nd 2022 by Phil

    I always loved the medical symptoms, treatments etc. Naturally I usually had the worst ailment known to doctors.

    Not much difference now except Google is faster!

  3. September 22nd 2022 by Shona

    I always wanted a set of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica but now that I can afford one Google has taken over the job. Like a previous respondent Google also pulls me down rabbit holes and not just the adverts. However, if the internet crashed, what would I do. They are still a temptation to a bibliophile.

  4. September 22nd 2022 by Neil Evans

    If I’m doing general knowledge crosswords I always regard using Google as cheating, but looking things up in the books we have at home as valid reasearch. Slightly ridiculous, I know.

  5. September 22nd 2022 by PAMELA SMITH

    I’ve always had lots of books,I still have a world atlas that I received in P7 for English! I love the sense of nostalgia when I look at it.Ive also got my Disney collection from childhood in a big book bound up with tape as I read it almost daily! Love them all.

  6. September 22nd 2022 by Sue Clarke

    I always ended up going down rabbit holes. It was part of the fun. It was great to pick a random book and just start reading. I learnt so much that way.

  7. September 22nd 2022 by Julia Goodfellow-Smith

    For me, it’s my dictionary and thesaurus. I have them both on my desk right now, and love referring to them – while learning the odd new word or two. The internet is a wonderful tool, but there’s still nothing quite like an actual book. 🙂

  8. September 22nd 2022 by Noel Wincote

    I still use dictionaries, almanacs, encyclopedias, and any other book or pamphlet that may hold numerous information I need, and not just for research but for pleasure sometimes like a good – man, myth and magic magazine.

  9. September 22nd 2022 by Nick Finney

    This brings back memories of doing my homework! Other than the school textbooks, our Encylopedia collection was our sole source of information and I can still remember the smell of the leather and feel the texture of the super thin, slightly off-white paper they were printed on. Happy times.

  10. September 22nd 2022 by Karen Hedges

    Yes, love information books of all kinds. Agree with a comment above about the rabbit hole of google…if you follow the links you can have almost as good an experience as leafing through an encyclopaedia. But not quite.

  11. September 22nd 2022 by Julie

    Oh how I loved mine, and especially the plastic transparencies that showed the dissection of a frog and a flower I seem to remember. I also loved the smell and the weight of each book it made we wonder as to how much knowledge there was in the world and made me hungry for more. Fast forward a few decades and I am presently paying an ‘arm and a leg’ to transport these books ( and the Works of William Shakespeare Collection ! ) across the seas from my late fathers home in the North East of England to mine in Canada.
    It will be like Narnia and Alice in Wonderland and others all rolled into one when I journey back in time with the smells and feel of every volume.
    I can’t wait . Thank you for this post Michael as people have thought me mad for paying for their transportation when we have Google ( their exact words) but you have reminded me of my why and I am happy.
    Oh and I also remember fondly the sheer pride my parents had in owning these books. They had started paying for them ‘on terms’ when they found out they were having their first child (me) as they wanted to give me a life of knowledge ….and they did xoxo
    How many parents feel like that about a tablet or a phone? …Thank you for the throwback Thursday , read on.

  12. September 22nd 2022 by Anna

    This reminds me so much of being a child and how we carried out research. I loved how you would discover random facts that you would never have come across. I am going to encourage my children to go ‘old school’ and see what they can learn!

  13. September 23rd 2022 by Angela

    I had Childrens Brittanica set and would read it endlessly. Consequently over the years I have been a tv quiz contestant because of my general knowledge- and won a few!

  14. September 23rd 2022 by Jacqueline Deigan

    I have three sets of Encyclopedia.
    The First was my Father’s The Britannica.
    Which he passed to me when his eyes failed him.
    The second was a set I brought with my pocket money ..every two weeks or so.
    And the last was a set I purchased for my children.
    The magic of books in general is amazing.

  15. September 25th 2022 by caz

    I adored my encyclopaedia, it was exciting to get a school project which meant sitting down and going through it. Equally, I also had a fascination for the planets and remember being bought a book about the solar system which came from Marks and Spencers. I can still see the front cover in my head and that started my interest in Saturn and the planets. You cannot beat books

  16. October 31st 2022 by Robert Brooker

    I used Britannica online just last night, to get the history of Halloween from my perspective, and shared that with the Rock Goddess I am in process of getting aboard the love train, it was not foreseen, and, it turns out. very welcome here.

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