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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition Hardcover – October 31, 2013

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Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition + Schott's Original Miscellany + Schott's Quintessential Miscellany (Indispensable Irrelevance)
Price for all three: $36.99

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; Bilingual edition (October 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039916670X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399166709
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.5 x 4.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Hugely inventive… Pleasantly pre-Web—a self-enclosed thing that rewards another, older kind of multitasking: reading, laughing, and learning.” – The New Yorker

“Perfectly tailored.” – The New Republic

“Elegant [and] illuminating."  – Wired  

“Genius.” – Real Simple

"[A] work of brilliance."--The Times (London)


About the Author

Ben Schott is the creator and designer of the international bestseller Schott’s Original Miscellany and its three sequels. He also wrote the news annual Schott’s Almanac (2006–2011). Together his books have sold some 2.5 million copies, in twenty one languages (including Japanese and Braille). Schott is a contributing columnist to the op-ed pages of The New York Times and a regular contributor to The Times of London. He divides his time between New York and London.

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Customer Reviews

I purchased one for myself and gave one as a gift to my brother.
B. Green
If you're a language lover, this book is an interesting look into the construction of German words and their meanings.
Unique, funny, interesting...this book is challenging in a fun way and provides endless conversation starters.
C. T. Braasch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Davis TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every book by Ben Schott is a meticulous masterpiece of conception and execution. He's best known for his delightful series of four Miscellanies (Schott's Original Miscellany, Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany, Schott's Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany, and Schott's Quintessential Miscellany) and for his six Almanacs, published annually between 2006 and 2011.

Schott's newest book is unlike his previous efforts in that it has an especially specific focus -- unusual German words -- but it's very much like the others in that it's so infernally clever, has been so carefully thought out, and possesses a singularly beautiful design. By going to Mr. Schott's website, benschott dot com, and clicking on The New York Times under the Journalism tab, you can link to an excerpt from the book and listen to him talk about it. There you can also read any of the numerous engaging columns he's written for the newspaper.

"Schottenfreude" is a play on the German word Schadenfreude, which means "shameful joy" or "pleasure derived from the misfortune of others." It's not among the book's 120 indexed entries, but then it is a long-established term that has decisively entered the English language along with such loanwords as Weltanschauung (worldview), Gemütlichkeit (coziness), Zeitgeist (spirit of the times), Gestalt (whole), and Angst (anxiety). Most of the words in this volume are longer than these examples, some comically so; Kraftfahrzeuginnenaustattungsneugeruchsgenuss, meaning "new car smell," is the longest at 45 letters. They have obviously been contrived by the author, yet they are real words for all that, perfectly justifiable concatenations of creatively constructed concepts.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George F. Simons on December 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Recently I did a review of Liesl Schillinger’s Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century, an attempt to name things for which there should be a word but there isn't. I noted that the book was tongue-in-cheek, but it raised a point about the importance of word creation in the development of culture and its relationship to language. Now, for the passionate polyglot there is a similar work for fehlende Wortschatz in German. Even the title of the book is a play on words, replacing the “damages” in Schadenfreude (taking delight in others’ misfortunes) with perhaps similar delight in potential damages done to the German language by this text.

My high school German prof, besides requiring that we learn and use the already abandoned Gothic penmanship, always insisted that German was the “sectional bookcase of languages,” namely that one could put together words pretty much ad libitum to come up with new words or at least words more amply descriptive of subject one was discussing. He gave this tongue-twisting example: a single word to amply denominate a “Danube steamship cruise company captain's assistant,” namely a Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsassistent. Such conjunctivity is certainly the case in Schott’s book. Though his newly-minted nouna are not yet to be found in Duden, their suggested meanings can, I suspect, be more evident to the German ear than the similar English constructions in Wordbirds. There is of course tongue-in-cheek fun-poking here as well, and perhaps cause for a bit of Schadenfreude on the part of the non-German reader whose sauerkraut, lederhosen and herr professor stereotypes are tickled.

Shott’s book differs from Schillinger's in a number of ways. First, no illustrations, no birds.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paris fan on October 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ach Du Lieber! What an amazing collection of German words created by the incredible Ben Schott! From the 47 letter German word for "New car smell," to nine letter term for "The exhausting pressure of being a good houseguest," this book is a must have for anyone who has ever studied German, comes from a German heritage, or just loves the magic and power of words. The beautifully designed and bound hardcover book is in a format reminiscent of an old-fashioned photo album or autograph book is an Einartigesbuchliebhabersgeschenk--(one-of-a-kind-booklovers gift.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Suzinne Barrett VINE VOICE on December 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Having long harbored the urge to learn German, this book was a natural choice for this "fraulein." Book is very well written and would be a delight to anyone obsessed with language, especially German. The whole premise is that Germans seems to have a word for everything. New car smell - three words in English - boils down to this outrageously long word: Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss. And consider these others:

Fussfaust - Instinctively curling up your toes in mortification at someone else's embarrassment.

Gastdruck - The exhausting effort of being a good houseguest.

Here's one of my favorite examples from the book, and it beautifully illustrates how German can be so very much like English: "'dokumentlustpanik' - anxiously patting down every pocket to locate a vital document you had just moments ago."

This entry I found unbelievably ironic. "Sonntagssleerung": Sunday afternoon depression. The striking and serious author Susan Sontag, whose name is embedded in this word, was the epitome of Sunday afternoon despair. In fact, this book abounds in amusing ironies, and therein lies its charm. Found this delightfully entertaining and very stylishly presented. Begeisterungsruf (bravo)!

Full disclosure: this reader was provided an advance copy through netgalley.com.
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