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Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's Misfortune

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  63 reviews
An entertaining and insightful exploration of schadenfreude: the deliciously dark and complex joy we've all felt, from time to time, at news of others' misfortunes.

You might feel schadenfreude when...

the boss calls himself "Head of Pubic Services" on an important letter.
a cool guy swings back on his chair, and it tips over.
a Celebrity Vegan is caught in the cheese aisle.
a
...more
Hardcover, 157 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Little, Brown Spark
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Average rating 3.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  337 ratings  ·  63 reviews


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Mark Reece
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think that this book would have worked well either as a list of funny instances of schadenfreude/ schadenfreude gone wrong, or as a serious philosophical/scientific examination of the subject. As it is, the book tries to do both but achieves neither.

The book does have some funny moments, but Smith has several annoying habits. The first of these is the pseudo intellectual quirk of quoting great thinkers saying trivial things. There is no point to this, except to add a pretended gravitas. It's a
...more
Aimee
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found parts of this book to be LOL funny. The author takes a topic getting mirth from someone else's mishap. The book dives into psychology, literature, etc. as it examines the topic. The reader may just find that it gives them a little more perspective and possibly more able to laugh at themselves next time they do something foolish. Of course, we would never do anything foolish ;).

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an advanced reading copy for an honest review.
Elaine
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wondrous little assessment of a curious human condition. I loved the historical and cultural placement, alongside the reassurance that it isn’t a modern/social media thing (heaps and heaps of references from ancient great thinkers to the bible!).

As with many things in life, empathy for the self and others is key. Watt Smith finishes up her analysis by flipping the concept on its head and offering us the idea that Schadenfreude can actually be a positive cognitive process to work with. And tip
...more
Erikka
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great little assessment of a curious psychological phenomenon. I appreciated how the author broke down the chapters into categories that seemed to flow nicely from one to the other. I also liked her afterword section that solidified her message succinctly. I will probably have trouble getting this for my library as it is British, but I will certainly look to order it!
Simon Sweetman
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some good logic and analysis here - actual discussion and reasons around why it is human to find some passing joy in the brief misfortune of others - as well as lots of entertaining examples. Nowhere near as mean spirited as it might seem.
Cynthia
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice, quick reading palate cleanser.
Story❤
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This year, Tiffany Watt Smith's The Book of Human Emotions: An Encyclopaedia of Feeling from Anger to Wanderlust will be making my Best of 2018 list. So I was overjoyed to get my hands on a copy of her new book Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's Misfortune .

Ah schadenfreude, how I love you. Love the sweet, somewhat taboo enjoyment of seeing others get their comeuppance. If you, dear reader, occasionally savour the joy of others' mistfortune, then you'll probably appreciate this book. It is a w
...more
Andrew Howdle
Not as profound as the author's book on human emotions, which can be read as a series of mini essays. Being released just before Christmas, this volume is an attempt to reach the whimsical rather than literary market. Schadenfreude, finding joy in another's misfortune, is an ever-increasing human emotion, according to the author, which would seem to be true as it has become the focus of so much modern comedy. I found the book entertaining, but got bored with some of its scatological humour, and ...more
Jay
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Schadenfreude
The Joy Of Another’s Misfortune
By Tiffany Watt Smith

Reviewed by Jay Gilbertson

Who isn’t fascinated by human emotion? Pair that with a person you admire in that complex envious-nearly-coveting-way while they are showing you their brand-new pricy pickup, then it suddenly rolls down the driveway, smashing into a parked car. No one is hurt. And you laugh and laugh, tears roll down your cheeks.
Sound like something you might do? That is what the German word schadenfreude means.
“The J
...more
Richard
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Have you ever laughed at someone slipping on a banana peel? Have you gloated when the other team's star player missed an easy layup? Do you snicker when your obnoxious co-worker comes out of the bathroom trailing toilet paper on their shoe? Welcome to the world of schadenfreude.

Tammy Watt Smith has written a good book on one of humankind's stranger phenomena. It could have been a great book (more on that later).

Schadenfreude refers to the pleasure you derive from observing another person's misfo
...more
David Msomba
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
That feeling you get when you observe "karma" has worked it's mojo,"somebody got what they deserve"

The superior feeling,you get when utter the words "I told you so".

The little joy you get when you see "Justice" is been served,the joy you get when hypocrites are being exposed.

The reason why people are obsessed with gossips news and celebrities failure news,even enjoying sports.

Somebody describe it as an injection of a short acting dose of self esteem,or as Nietzsche said "revenge of the impotence
...more
Es
May 02, 2020 rated it liked it
[Actual Rating: 3.5]

As someone who graduated with a degree in Psychology, I've encountered the concept of Schadenfreude a few times and was very curious if there's more to it, so on a trip to Taipei I grabbed a copy of this at the nearest Eslite bookstore and was looking forward to having my questions answered.

Here's the thing - it doesn't really answer any of your questions.

That doesn't make it a bad book though, it just means you're better off reading academic journals if you want any real ans
...more
Nathan
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seeping with a welcome, wry sense of humor, Smith has given us a book that puts on glorious display the inner-workings of that feeling you get when someone (or maybe yourself, depending on the situation) gets their comeuppance. Reveling in that sweet, tasty goodness when someone's given a karma-induced what-for can sometimes be nothing short of the nectar of the gods; but seriously, what's going on in your head when you're experiencing this? Is it beneficial, or just contributing to your cynical ...more
Michelle
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was very torn between three stars and two - I may or may not go back to change my rating at some point.
I had hoped for a rigorous discussion of why we feel Schadenfreude and whether we should; maybe this is where I am at fault. Instead, the book is part "philosophical" and part "funny stories". I thought the writing was on point in some passages, but over-indulgent in others. Not all passages added something to the book. The way the book is divided in chapters felt a bit artificial; the struc
...more
Paula Maguire
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, especially the cover design of banana skins. The tone of voice is intimate, conversational, clear and a bit wicked as she shares and confesses instances of her own schadenfreude
I love the way the book is structured, part academic essay with points, categorising schadenfreude into sub genres if you like, and doing a summary at the end - very satisfying especially for a reader like me who is very forgetful . These are some of the characteristics she identifies 1) it i
...more
Carrie
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Since the term Schadenfreude (literally joy-damage) has had quite a lot of pub lately (Smith notes from her research that this has been called the Age of), this book is a completely engaging and accessible look at the way we (guiltily) take pleasure at others’ misfortune. Though she doesn’t belabor a direct correlation, the prevalence of social media and constant news has contributed significantly. When everything looks rosy in someone’s online life, a comeuppance is sometimes welcome. Special t ...more
Stephen
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What caught my eye when I picked up this book is the gaudy design and the summary of instances that will trigger the shameful tickle of enjoyment we experience when things go wrong for other people. Such as:

A commuter barges past you on the stairs - and then just misses his train.

Someone else's child is having a meltdown in the supermarket.

This turned out to be a short, entertaining book that discusses the psychology behind Schadenfreude, how it's gaining momentum (especially in the form of "lik
...more
Marc Minnick
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
In the current day political climate,Schadenfreude abounds.Whether it one political party attempting to make the other look bad and than ending up with egg on their collective faces or sanctimonious talk show hosts and media darlings lecturing us rubes about racial and ethnic sensitivity and then being outed in black face.Tiffany W.Smith writes a delicious little piece of prose explaining it's historical beginnings and why most cultures have some form of it.Interesting enough,no such word exists ...more
Suzanne
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Schadenfreude was definitely an entertaining little read, but I was expecting something a little more substantial. I felt as if every chapter was just scratching the surface of the topic. I also came away confused about what the author's thesis was regarding Schadenfreude.

That said, I truly enjoyed a lot of the anecdotes. I loved hearing about different understandings of Schadenfreude across cultures and through time. My favourite thing was her description of Pieter Bruegel's painting of Icarus
...more
Kristi Betts
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first heard the word Schadenfreude in the musical Avenue Q. I didn’t even know there was a word for that evil little feeling one has when hearing of someone’s misfortune. This book was an interesting look into this feeling we all have, whether we admit to it or not. I enjoyed the examples and even laughed out loud at some of them. I appreciated the “Helps” at the end of the book, especially for the realization that everyone fails and it is all harmless fun. Interesting and thought provoking bo ...more
James
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times I wondered why I was reading this. It is often repetitive in its definitions of schadenfreud paired with quotes from famous people describing it again. But I did enjoy this book. Perhaps it was the funny examples that start each chapter, or the amusing examples given to the author while researching this book. Either way it was a short read and not too taxing. The author has a bit to say on the subject which is interesting, but mostly it’s descriptions of fails and embarrassments which m ...more
Mugren Ohaly
Dec 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
The premise is that people find pleasure in other people’s misfortune. That is somewhat misleading because she lists sport as an example. When the team you support wins because the opponent misses a shot, you are obviously going to be ecstatic. We don’t need a fancy word for that.

I don’t need a book that’s nothing but a list of examples of Schadenfreude to tell me that I find joy in knowing that no one’s life is perfect.
Mike
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mystical and almost taboo subject of sorts, schadenfreude has always interested me. This is a well written and informative guide to all things schadenfreude and many examples the author uses, from popular culture references to politician's getting egg on their chin, are funny and timely occurances we experience in every day life.
Cecile
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a neat little book, perceptive and amusing, on a sentiment that we all surreptitiously have felt towards a competitor or a difficult colleague, or even someone we have never met, politician etc, schadenfreude at their minor demise. I am not sure that reading a book on schadenfreude is absolutely necessary but it was well reviewed, short, and ultimately enjoyable reading.
Brian Gimlett
This book delves into that familiar feeling experienced when we all take some small slight pleasure at the expense of someone's bad luck. For example, I experienced schadenfrude this weekend when the University of Michigan, who I repeatedly had to hear about all season (2018) regarding how great their defense was, got absolutely embarrassed in their rivalry game against Ohio State, losing 62-39.
Sharen
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Nothing makes the world gleam like bad people getting the fate they deserve."

Oh how true this statement is! Who doesn't love the idea of karma or justice? The fantasy of an adversary's comeuppance? Guilty, and feeling guilty about it. A cute book that breaks down the different types of Schadenfreude. I feel more aware for having read it and hope by being more aware I am more kind.

Leanne
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
"Humans are nothing if not amusingly lacking in self-awareness."

This book is a breakdown of all the factors that flow into Schadenfreude, and where they come from. The themes are interesting but don't delve into some of the deeper psychological mechanisms they hint at (default feelings about justice, status, or security). Overall, it's just a fun light read.
Matt
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent fun read. I was lucky enough to see the Author give a short talk about her book and it intrigued me enough to read it.

An wry look at that most un-English of feelings!

(Not really and furthermore now I feel less guilty, hurrah)
Bookwormthings
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simultaneously a swift read, but also a lot of depth. All the different types of schadenfreude, and why, it is only human, to sometimes enjoy realising someone else has got their comeuppance and it doesn't necessarily make you a bad person.
Lorelei
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Don’t be put off by the subtitle. This witty and entertaining little book describes how our evolutionary need for justice maintains harmonious societies and the awkwardness we all feel with a good dose of deserved commupance.
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Dr. Tiffany Watt Smith is a cultural historian and author of The Book of Human Emotions. In 2014, she was named a BBC New Generation Thinker, and her TED talk The History of Emotions has over 1.5 million views. She is currently a Wellcome Trust research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. In her previous career, she was a theater director.

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