Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Book Review: "Schott's Miscellany 2008"

I'm awfully glad I decided to read my review of last year's Schott's Almanac, since otherwise the one for the (slightly-renamed) Schott's Miscellany 2008 (Bloomsbury) might have sounded uncannily similar. I was going to note the Wall Street Journal-like illustrations (check), and note the basic features: "some information pertinent to the year covered [through August of 2007], including various awards presented, crime, election and other statistics, and the obligatory ephemerides. There are useful summaries of news stories and scientific studies, some handy glossaries, &c. &c." (check).

A great collection of information (some useless, some quite otherwise) for browsing. Some of my favorite features this year: the world's worst sound (as determined by an acoustics prof at Stanford) (p. 196) - it's vomiting, by the way; a look at the Oscar-voting procedures (p. 155) - I had no idea that one of the two PWC guys who knows the results literally memorizes all the winners every year just in case the envelopes go missing; the top ten best-selling books through August of '07 (p. 162) - the only author with two of the top ten was Khaled Hosseini; and word anniversaries as documented by the OED (p. 8). Some of those include voluptuousness (first used in 1508), auctioneer (1708), koala, and hoax (1808).

Like all of Schott's books, this is nicely designed, fun to read and always interesting. Highly recommended.

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