Simon Winchester's The Meaning of Everything seems at first glance to merely be a sequel to the popular The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary. But I found The Meaning... to be a vastly superior book. Frankly I think that The Professor... would have made a good, long, chapter in this book (as it is you have several pages of rehash to retell Minor's story).
I think what makes book better is that Winchester has more meat to chew on. The making of the OED was not a simple affair and the whole thing seems to have very nearly met its end on more than one occasion. The book reads like a fantastic novel, complete with good guys and evil villains. And along the way you get to learn a good deal about a) the English language, b) lexicography (Dictionary study) and c) the English society that produced such a monumental (in all meanings of the word) work.
I felt a little cheated towards the end when the last 70 odd years of the OED are wrapped up in a few pages. I would have found it fascinating to learn more how the work of gathering up new words for the planned 2007 edition has changed since the original plan in the 1860s. And Winchester still tends to wander just a bit too much for my taste.
All in all a good solid read that will entertain and edify at the same time.