I’m surprised at other people actually reading this cover to cover in only a couple of sittings: for me it was much more the type of book that you dip in and out of. A curiosity, but not something deeply riveting. Trivia, I suppose. I did find Crystal’s introduction to the whole book and to each chapter interesting, but the lists and lists of words are rather hard to just sit and read, for me — it’d be like reading a dictionary or thesaurus for fun; it can be interesting to look up particular things, but I don’t know anyone (as far as I’m aware!) who’ll sit and read straight through.
For me, it was particularly interesting because it puts some Old/Middle English expressions in a better context than the simple translating dictionaries ever did, and makes some surprising links between the years and other languages. Though I think if he’d gone to Anglo-Saxon poetry, he’d have found some more fun ones for his section on death: I’m fond of ‘sweordum answefede’ (put to sleep by swords), which caused some consternation in class when we were trying to translate it.