Obsolete by Anna Jane Grossman

Obsolete, An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By is a neat little collection of anecdotes and short essays about the demise of everyday objects, ideas, and behaviours.

obsolete In this anthology we encounter witty odes to relics of bygone eras, such as that of the after-school special, milkmen, and the office Rolodex, and predictions of soon-to-be extinct phenomena (bald spots, apparently!).  The often sarcastic tone Grossman uses is a perfect foil to the nostaligic sentiments that typewriters and polaroid cameras typically evoke.

While the subjects in the book are at once familiar and surprising, the most interesting entry in the encyclopedia is, of course, on the subject of books.  Any booklover can identify with the shudder of panic that runs through them with news of a publishing house closing, an independent shutting its doors, or yet another volume of a feeble attempt at regurgitating a much loved classic with the inclusion of incorporeal beings (I’m looking at you, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).  Admittedly, Grossman is mostly concerned with the switch from paper to electronic books, although she does quote some rather distressing statistics about just how few books people are reading these days, in any format.

I’m not convinced that Grossman is right about books becoming obsolete, although she’s definitely spot-on about bellhops, getting lost, short basketball shorts, and tonsillectomies (definition: “an operation that resulted in a strict diet of ice cream“).  For all our sakes, I hope she’s wrong, because without books, there would be no books like this one.

Come find a copy in our Trade Department.

One Response

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