The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

I recently ordered this book for the library’s 400s – which is Dewey Decimal-speak for books about languages – and I’m so excited about it. This is a book which “poetically defines emotions that we all feel but don’t have the words to express”, resulting in a riot of whimsy and thought-provoking word creation.

Started as a website in 2009, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has captured the hearts of many, including John Green who said it “creates beautiful new words that we need but do not yet have.” It includes such words’ definitions as ‘sonder’, the feeling of wondering about strangers, realizing that their lives are as vivid and complex as yours is, ‘anemoia’, the nostalgia for a time you’ve never actually experienced, and ‘zenosyne’, the sense that time is constantly getting faster. Drawn from creativity and inspired by languages around the world, the Dictionary is a great read to shift your perspective and tap into your most subtle nuanced feelings. Even better, it’s illustrated!

If you like unusual words, beautiful books, and deep feelings, do try this book – if only for that beautiful cover!

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