For my final nomination I will suggest Arabian Society in the Middle Ages
by Edward Lane. It can be found in the Mobile Read library here:
Doitsu the formatter gives the following description:
"When Edward William Lane (1801-1876) translated the "1001 Nights" he often added long notes at the end of the stories. His grandnephew Stanley Lane-Poole (1854-1931) basically recycled these footnotes for this book. Of course he continued the family tradition by adding his own elaborate footnotes.
The title is somewhat misleading, because even though the book contains many quotes from medieval Arab writers, Lane often interspersed his notes with entertaining anecdotes from his years in Egypt.
The book contains 11 chapters: Religion, Demonology, Saints, Magic, Cosmography, Literature, Feasting and Merrymaking, Childhood and Education, Women, Slavery, Ceremonies of Death.
IMHO, it's a treasure trove of Arabian trivia. Not only will you find out about the prophet's favorite drink and fruit, you'll also learn about naked saints and why Muslims aren't supposed to pray in bath houses."
I have the Lane translation of the 1001 NIghts
in three volumes and can testify to the quality and interest of those utterly wonderful footnotes.
This book is far more interesting than the title perhaps indicates.