Schott's Original Miscellany Hardcover – Dec 3 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Ever wonder how one ties a sari? Or who makes the Queen of England's pork sausages? How about which three films managed to take all five of the top Oscar awards (picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay), or which Burmese kings died "curious deaths"? Answers to these questions and hundreds more can be found in this delightfully eclectic collection of facts, diagrams, quotations and symbols. Charmingly designed (with its various typefaces, columns and occasional graphics, it looks a little like an old-fashioned almanac), Schott's slim volume was an unexpected bestseller in England. Now the 28-year-old British designer-photographer has updated the book for American readers. Among its additions, the North American version includes a chart of cattle branding symbols, a list of notable Canadians and a description of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Internationally essential trivia-such as the recipe for a martini, instructions for tying a bow tie, and a selection of quotations from Dr. Johnson-has, of course, been preserved. Schott declares that the purpose of his little book is to "gather the flotsam and jetsam of the conversational tide." Readers may find its smile-provoking pages absolutely addictive. Photos, drawings.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Of the three definitions of "miscellany" quoted in this quirky, but attractive little book, probably the most applicable is "a collection, a medley, or mixture" (OED). Schott has assembled a wide range of facts, diagrams, lists, charts, photographs, and even a "Schematic of Dante's Inferno." Eminently browsable, this slim volume provides information as varied as a list of "The Untimely Deaths of Musicians" and photographs of cloud types. From the catalog of golf strokes to the list of the deadly sins and cardinal virtues, the topics range widely, from useful information such as facts about the American presidents and English monarchs to trivia including chat-room abbreviations, emoticons, and the names of people who appeared on the 1967 cover of the Beatles's Sgt. Pepper album. There is an extremely useful index, which is necessary for this apparently random collection of stuff. Teens will be fascinated by this great source for fun and, frequently, edification.
Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
You may think, "Interesting questions but what do any of these things have to do with one another?" They have absolutely nothing to do with one another but I found the answer to all these questions and so many more in a little book called Schott's Original Miscellany by Ben Schott.
This little book has more esoteric information in it than I ever thought I would need. It is also a great conversation starter. I checked it out before Christmas thinking visiting family might find it interesting. My seventeen-year-old nephew browsed the pages for about an hour. He would share a bit of whimsical information such as how to say I love you in forty-three languages or all the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.
In short if you need to know how to tie a sari or decipher cockney rhyming slang, curious about blood group compatibility and hey just what are the rules of dueling? This is the book for you. You can impress your friends and co-workers with bits of trivia and information they didn't know they needed.
Every wonder what the winning word in the 1951 National Spelling Bee Finals was? I suggest you pick up Mr. Schott's little book and find out.
Although I can agree with other reviewers that there is some inconsequential fluff here, I found this book highly entertaining and mesmerizing, even if some of the arcana in it was of little direct interest to me. I loved the chart of US Presidents that included not only their ages when they took office, but whether they were left-handed, red-headed, whether they had facial hair, and whether they died on July 4. I loved the list of unusual deaths of Burmese kings (one, Nandabayin, laughed himself to death when a visiting European merchant told him that Venice was a free state without a king). I loved the recitation of the British Riot Act of 1714. I loved the list of the 33 degrees of Freemasonry hierarchy. I loved the schematic diagram of Dante's Inferno.
What use is this book to you if you're not a reference librarian or a triviaholic? Virtually none. So what? I loved it, and only wish it were much, much longer. Almanac length would be a start.
Imbued with humor, sprinkled with quotations, and arranged in completely arbitrary order, this quaint compendium of facts makes for edifying, absorbing, and essential (according to Ben Schott) reading. Although the author has taken great pains to ensure the correctness of the facts, he admits that some of the trivia he presents has been disputed; he provides a list of variations and disputations. There is a self-referential page with statistical information about the book itself. There is also an index, although the reader will not be referring to it often, if at all. Originally published in England, this edition has been updated with American trivia, but it still contains such British facts as cricket fielding positions, British poets laureate, and the order of succession to the English throne.
Move over bathroom readers... this book is far more entertaining. I recommend you buy a copy and keep it handy at all times. You never know when you'll need to find some "Q" words with no "u" or a list of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands!
I love to tuck this book into my book purse and pull out and read whenever I have to wait or have a bit of time to kill. The information is concise and this is the type of book you can pick up or put down at any time. I highly recommend this book for the person who likes odd little facts, or someone that likes unusual books. Its fun and compact, and you are likely to go to this book again and again.