Paperback Oxford English Dictionary
Now in paperback is this complete dictionary and reference volume all rolled into one, at a splendidly low price. It includes all the words you will ever need for ordinary everyday use (120,000 words, phrases and definitions it says) set out in the easy-to-use typography for which Oxford dictionaries are famous. And for each entry there is a brief, tight definition without all the grammatical and etymological details which, for the non-specialist, can so clutter dictionary entries. It is also bang up to date with entries for new words such as credit crunch and staycation.
The reference sections are also great. There is for example a listing of places which includes everywhere from Abuja (it’s the capital of Nigeria) to Zakinthos (it’s one of the Ionian Islands). Similarly, you get a listing of people from Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian president from 2005) to Jacob Zuma (South African president from 2009). There are plenty more of these listings to make it the complete on-desk dictionary-cum-reference volume.