BOOK REVIEWS: Why We Can't Get Schott of Facts; One Man's Fascination with Trivia and Facts Has Exploded into a Global Phenomenon

The Birmingham Post (England), January 6, 2007 | Go to article overview

BOOK REVIEWS: Why We Can't Get Schott of Facts; One Man's Fascination with Trivia and Facts Has Exploded into a Global Phenomenon


Byline: By HANNAH STEPHENSON

It seems we cannot get enough of lists, fascinating facts and nuggets of trivia that are easily digestible.

The ability to conjure up a factoid or two to amaze friends, while increasing your intellectual kudos, is something that author Ben Schott has managed to exploit with aplomb.

The 32-year-old eponymous author of three volumes of miscellany and an almanac has sold more than two million books in four years.

"I'm completely surprised at the success of the books," he says incredulously.

"We're launching the first American edition and the first German edition of the almanac. There's a Japanese version of the miscellanies and there's going to be a Korean version. When things like this happen, you think, 'How did this business get so big?' It's very strange."

While Schott's Original Mis-cellany is full of bits and pieces, odds and ends of fascinating information and trivia, his latest work, Schott's Almanac 2007, is a completely different type of book.

"The three miscellanies were different books from the almanac, which was never designed to be book four. They were fun, cheery, rather haphazard collections of ephemera, flotsam and jetsam that you learned at school but had probably forgotten, like cloud types and wine bottle sizes.

"The almanac is something completely different. It's a modern recreation of a traditional almanac. In some ways it's much more serious, dealing with some very serious ideas and some very frivolous ideas.

"We have blog entries of Britney but also a profile of the president of Iran and the new American language of detention and interrogation, and the Nobel Prize For Literature alongside the Bad Sex In Fiction award.

"So what the almanac is trying to do is to create a book of the year that tells the year in the way we actually live it. It's not only about shifts in politics. It's also about ephemeral things like the Oscars, the MTV music awards and the small things as well as the big things."

Among his favourite entries for Schott's Almanac 2007is the Oscar section, which not only tells you about the winners, but also who said what, the dresses that were worn and what celebrities received in their gift baskets.

"It's the Oscar night quotes which often tell you about the tone of the evening, if someone was political or sentimental. Then there was a huge story about the celebrity gift baskets, because the IRS decided they would be taxable benefits this year."

He says that it isn't particularly difficult to decide what to include because the appropriate information stands out.

"Some events are so significant that they just have to be in there, such as the UK threat levels - for the first time the security threat level has been made public. It shows an interesting shift in British society.

"Other stories you are just so astonished or amused by that they have to go in."

Research for his previous miscellanies was conducted mainly in the British Library, but Ben did most of his investigations for the almanac on the internet.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

BOOK REVIEWS: Why We Can't Get Schott of Facts; One Man's Fascination with Trivia and Facts Has Exploded into a Global Phenomenon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.