• The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

  • By: John Koenig
  • Narrated by: John Koenig
  • Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

“It’s undeniably thrilling to find words for our strangest feelings…Koenig casts light into lonely corners of human experience…. An enchanting book." (The Washington Post)

A truly original book in every sense of the word, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows poetically defines emotions that we all feel but don’t have the words to express - until now.

Have you ever wondered about the lives of each person you pass on the street, realizing that everyone is the main character in their own story, each living a life as vivid and complex as your own? That feeling has a name: sonder. Or maybe you’ve watched a thunderstorm roll in and felt a primal hunger for disaster, hoping it would shake up your life. That’s called lachesism. Or you were looking through old photos and felt a pang of nostalgia for a time you’ve never actually experienced. That’s anemoia.

If you’ve never heard of these terms before, that’s because they didn’t exist until John Koenig set out to fill the gaps in our language of emotion. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows “creates beautiful new words that we need but do not yet have,” says John Green, best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars. By turns poignant, relatable, and mind-bending, the definitions include whimsical etymologies drawn from languages around the world, interspersed with otherworldly collages and lyrical essays that explore forgotten corners of the human condition - from astrophe, the longing to explore beyond the planet Earth, to zenosyne, the sense that time keeps getting faster.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is for anyone who enjoys a shift in perspective, pondering the ineffable feelings that make up our lives. This is the perfect gift for creatives, word nerds, and human beings everywhere.

©2021 John Koenig. All rights reserved. From “The Separate Notebooks: A Mirrored Gallery” from The Separate Notebooks by Czeslaw Milosz. Copyright ©1984 by Czeslaw Milosz Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. From The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. Copyright ©2005 by Louise Erdrich. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. From "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera. English translation copyright © 1984 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Translated from Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí, copyright ©1984 by Milan Kundera. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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this is a new favorite of mine

in fact I've already recommended it to a few people! A cousin, an old professor and a coworker! I honestly think that anyone could read and enjoy this book. Putting words to universal feelings is validating and comforting. I feel like it's important.

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Saver in Small Listens

I have been waiting for this to be published for several years. It is an absolute joy to read and listen to.. For myself, I only listen in small bits. Four or five minutes at a time. I want stop and think about what I'm hearing. Sometimes I agree with the definitions and sometimes I don't. Such a treat either way. This book supports mindfulness in a way no other volume has for me.

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful and Fulfilling

Koenig helps us see through these word entries that we're not alone; that our intrusive thoughts do not belong exclusively to us and that unexpected things occur for all of us.

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very good

Well worth the wait, I bought and vread the physical copy too, but I missed John reading it to me like all the years of videos. thank you

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Inexplicable feelings

The books makes you smile and cry, often times simultaneously. The narration from John Koenig is what makes it even more absorbing. I wouldnt remember the words, but I will remember resonating with so many emotions the writes pens down so beautiful.

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5 stars plus!

I read and listen to so many books that I rarely want to reread a book. But this is one of them! A brilliant expression of things we feel and experience but have no idea how to express them. Koenig did this for me! I would give more than 5 stars if I could! A 10 in my humble opinion!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Interesting listen

Not really what I expected but nonetheless I enjoyed it. The words he describes hits a lot of things that I could not. I may have to listen again. Narrator was excellent 😊

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Perfect tool for capturing an illusive word

I enjoyed both content and narration performance now I have to buy a hard copy too many perfect words to remember.

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Boring

I tried hard to get into this book... I made it halfway and I just can't continue.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-28-21

12 years of anticipation for a stunning payoff

I loved it! Every word, every definition, every feeling captured was beautiful!
I have been waiting for this book since I discovered John's YouTube channel, and I have been so excited before resigning myself to thinking that this book was never going to happen.

My days, it was worth the wait! The perfect book for my autumnal walks, and the perfect books for many more melancholic moments in the future! I can't wait to get my hands on the physical copy and read it again!