Anyone with an interest in words may find this short blog fascinating:https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2018/01/11/words-phrases-printing-press/
By the way, did you know that a personal subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary is £215 per year (far too much for me) but by joining your local library you may be able to access the website for free?
I spent a lot of my formative years reading dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Just read them, browsed them, let one thing lead to another in the same way as people 'surf the net' these days.
I have the two volume Shorter Oxford Dictionary from about twenty years ago, proudly displayed on a bookshelf and I will still get it out to read it, not looking up one particular word but just the sheer pleasure of discovering new words, and re-familiarising myself with old ones forgotten.
There is something about books that just isn't there with computers.
Trainspotter said:There is something about books that just isn't there with computers.
I agree. Unfortunately, I have never been able to afford the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (even though the 2007 edition is currently half price it is still £52). Owning The Oxford English Dictionary remains a dream.
I do own the Oxford Dictionary of English along with the fourth edition of Fowler's. I dip into both and find them fascinating. Fowler's is very readable. I also own a copy of New Hart's Rules and read that from cover to cover.
For reference purposes the websites are better than books as the former are easier (and cheaper) to update.
I do that and my late dad did that.
I was given a copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (12th edition) as a Christmas present a few years ago and it remains one of my favorite presents I've ever been given, I just love reading through it as you described. I particularly like this edition as it's the centenary edition and contains a nine-page history of the Oxford English Dictionary! It's like reading the biography of a very dear friend (Or at least, my idea of a very dear friend.).
Have you ever read 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' by Lynn Truss? Excellent book, I'd highly recommend it, it's the funniest punctuation guide I've ever found! Unfortunately I lent my copy to a neighbour and never saw it again :( I'll need to see if I can find it again.