How to Write a Reference Book

You can make a guide to anything by simply writing
bible after the subject. For example: the bread bible,
the car owner’s bible, the dog owner’s bible, the fairy
bible, the bible of biblical figures, the bible of preaching,
the atheist’s bible, the erotica lover’s bible, the cock-sucker’s
bible, the bible for narcoleptics, the bible for coin collectors,
the Scottish bible, the vegan bible, the cat food bible, the
duck-hunting bible, the Spanish-speaking bible, the French
bible, the English bible, the Hebrew bible, the Greek bible,
the bible bible, the bible for theoretical physics, the bible
for understanding the complexities of the big bang, the bible
for comprehending race relations in an urban environment,
the bible that helps you understand the terms within the bible,
the bible that tells you that writing a book with the word
bible in the title is pompous and misleading, unless you’re truly
writing stories and parables that mirror the bible in some way,
or if you’re re-writing the bible but with the following subject
as the omnipresent theme throughout the entirety of the book.
Imagine if in the bread bible, we were reading the same stories
but all the characters were replaced with bread; Jesus is now
Jewish rye bread, Peter is now panettone, Judas is now olive
bread because, y'know...olives and whatnot. That would
actually be pretty impressive: going through the entire bible
only to rewrite it later with a different language. Instead, when
I pick up the bread bible all I find are recipes for making different
kinds of bread. This is not a bible, this is a cookbook.
You could save your sacrilege by calling it a bread dictionary instead.
that way I can distinguish which breads are nouns and which ones
are verbs. The bible of verbs, the dictionary bible, the cookbook bible

TREVOR RUTH is a writer from Livermore, California, whose work has previously appeared in California’s Best Emerging Poets and Occam’s Razor. He has a degree in Creative Writing from California State University, East Bay, and is the recipient of the Markos Poetry Prize. Poems and essays by the author are available on his blog at