This is a reference book, but I'm putting it in my "read" shelf, because I've used it. Actually I just got it about a week ago, but I'm confident writing a review about it, because it is wonderful. The book comprises three parts: The first part is a dictionary of Shakespearian tearms, which has clarified a lot of misconceptions. I always thought the phrases "bare bodkin" and "jig off" sounded vaguely lewd, but they aren't. 'Nuff said about that. The second part contains short plot synopses and diagrams of how the characters relate to each other (check out the diagram for Henry IV part 3, on page 541... it looks like a circuit diagram for the Death Star!). Okay, it's a bit like Cliff notes, but let's be honest: some of the names in these works are a bit unfamiliar, and for many of the peripheral characters, it can be difficult to keep track or figure out how exactly they fit into the story. Balthasar, anybody? ...oh, right, that's Romeo's servant. The third part consists of Appendices which explain some of the language, geographical, and cultural (e.g. classical mythology) allusions which appear in various works. "Lud's town"?...what is she talking about ---> that's an old nickname for London. Allhallund Eve? when's that? ----> Halloween. You get the idea. Like so many reference books, it is fun looking through this, even if I don't have a particular question I am trying to find out. Just thumbing through this book, I am in complete awe of the bredth and scope of Shakespeare's works... especially considering he died at age 66. This book is outstanding, and has inspired me to read more Shakespeare.