31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A highly original and often amusing book of trivia,
This review is from: Schott's Original Miscellany (Hardcover)
Schott’s Original Miscellany is one of those rare books that can be read time and time again with fascination. Randomly choosing a page may present you with information regarding ‘American Diner Slang’ (did you know that ‘burn the British’ means ‘toasted muffin,’ or ‘Eve with a lid on’ is a reference to ‘apple pie’?) or perhaps you’d come across the diagram of Hampton Court Maze, complete with a guide to the fastest way to reach its centre. All one hundred and sixty pages of this remarkable book offer information you are unable to come across quite so easily elsewhere. From the names of all seven dwarves to boxing weight limits, and definitions of art styles (Gothic to Cubism) to contradictory proverbs (‘Great minds think alike’/ ‘Idiots seldom differ’), it’s all here.
One of my favourite sections in the book was the ‘curious surname pronunciation’: Without Schott’s Original Miscellany I wouldn’t have known that ‘Featherstonehaugh’ was pronounced ‘Fanshaw’ or that ‘Auchinlech’ became ‘Af-lek.’ Another nice part was the ‘how to wrap a sari’ set of beautifully illustrated diagrams. There is information that could save your life, such as safe thicknesses of ice for different weights, (a single person on foot should not attempt to walk over ice less than 2.5 inches in thickness, for example) downright bizarre facts covering ‘curious deaths of Burmese kings’ (Tabinshweti for instance, was ‘beheaded by his chamberlains whilst searching for a fictitious white elephant’) and even a list of portraits on American banknotes.
It is not only the material within the book that is impressive, but also the way in which it is presented: The simple yet charming illustration in red on the front cover and the textured cream paper dust jacket are aesthetically pleasing, whilst the red cloth the book is bound in and the simple silk bookmarker of the same colour are equally notable. It’s worth every penny of the asking price, and makes a superb gift. I highly recommend it – it’s a real treat.