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Schott's Original Miscellany Hardcover – August 4, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (August 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582343497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582343495
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are not many books that I read in one sitting - Schott's Original Miscellany was one such book. It's difficult to explain what's so special about this little 160-page hard-backed volume. And it's even harder to explain what's inside. Imagine a cross between a Victorian English enyclopedia; the Book of Lists; and those useful pages at the back of your diary and you have something approaching the style and content of Schott's Original Miscellany.
In the spirit of Ben Schott's wonderfully haphazard organizational style, I shall open a page at random, and list what can be found there. OK ... pages 118-119 contain: a list of famous left-handers (including Bill Gates and Cole Porter); a nursery rhyme about sneezing; the traditional names for the various winds (the Sirocco is a South-easterly wind); an explanation of adult dentition; an list of temperature conversions; all of the International Washing Symbols (including the wonderful symbol for "do not wring"); and a list of countries where you have to drive on the left.
It is fantastic, funny, and (believe me) very addictive stuff. I've only just got this book, and already it has been "borrowed" from my desk countless times by colleagues! I recommend it very highly.
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Format: Hardcover
What more can you ask for when you have a book that you can sit down browse through and read again and again? This unique collection of facts and trivia will keep you entralled for many hours. All kinds of odd little facts can be found in this book. Who knew that one book would have the knights of the round table, roman numerals, who sang at the superbowl, and so much more all in one place?
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I had heard about Schott's Original Miscellany from friends in England - where the book has been a best-seller for ages, and is already become something of a British institution.
I've just bought a copy of the American version - and I can see exactly why it is so popular.
The book has everything.
It can't have everything, I hear you say...
Well, it does... All of the cloud types (with lovely little pictures); a wonderful list of phobias; the 33 degrees of Freemasonry; abbreviations used in personal ads; palmistry lines; the rules of fighting a duel; Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, Japanese and Egyptian Gods; every type of conversion you can conceive; famous Canadians; clothing-care symbols (even the ones you never understand); Morse code; cattle branding; untimely deaths of popstars; specifications of the US Flag.... the list goes on, and on, and on...
And, if this was not enough, the book is absolutely beautiful to look at. It looks like the kind of book my grandpa used to have - old-world style, elegance, and design - but with content bang up to date. The typography (a hobby of mine) is perfect and makes the book a joy to read even if your not particularly interested in an entry.
(I've just spotted a double-page about the American Presidents which has everything - everything - you might want to know... including whether they had beards, were left-handed, owned slaves, their star-sign, how much they got paid... it's that kind of book).
I can't recommend this book too highly. Come Christmas, I think we can expect to see this book in many a stocking.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a reference book in which you can quickly look up the population of Brazil or find a complete list of Pulitzer Prize winners, then "Schott's Original Miscellany" is not the volume you seek. On the other hand, if you're looking for a book you can pick up, open to a random page, and unearth some fascinating tidbits of trivia, then you're in the right place.
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!
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Format: Hardcover
The other day my husband and I were discussing religion and could not remember the name of the blue elephant Hindu god. My mother visited us the weekend before Christmas. The conversation turned to Muses and Mom could not remember the names of the nine muses. A friend knitted a beautiful scarf of blue Italian yarn for me. She gave me the yarn label saying she didn't know if Italian washing symbols were different from U.S. symbols.
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.
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