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Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By, from Mix Tapes and Modesty to Typewriters and Truly Blind Dates Hardcover – September 1, 2009
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"Obsolete" is thought-provoking in that it does make one realize how once-seemingly indispensible "things" have somehow simply disappeared in our society's race toward the technological future. Presented in an alphabetized/encyclopedic format, Grossman's range of topics for all-things obsolete are diverse (ditto-paper or easy to open packaging), humorous (handkerchiefs), expected (typewriters) and occasionally odd (wrinkles). Some of the topics covered are simply addressed with a witty, sarcastic quip (anonymity), while others delve deeply into the history of the subject matter (film). In this regard, "Obsolete" scores big points as being both entertaining and informative. While it isn't exactly baffling to understand the downfall of stuffing mucous-covered cloth into pockets for re-use, it is interested how our society has gradually snuffed the art of cursive writing. Grossman definitely does the research on several topics and her efforts often provide a curiosity-satisfying history that led to the flourish of things that have since disappeared.
While the book is oftentimes educational and fun to read, I was hoping for more considering there are so many common things have disappeared in recent years. Maybe this is expecting too much from the author, but when a subtitle includes the word "encyclopedia", I expect the content to reveal more, not less. While brevity could have benefited some of the topics covered and more detail provided for others, I still believe what Grossman presents is worthy. The only other issue I have with "Obsolete" is that the silly artwork that illustrates many of the topics is unnecessary and photos would have been great.
More than a few times, you'll find yourself exclaiming "Oh, I forgot about those!" So many items that were indispensable to us have dropped into the haze of old memories. Perusing this cornucopia of "old day" objects of function makes one realize that they have become objets d'art.
If you are a nostalgic person or interested in everyday life as history, this book is a must own. Additionally, it begs for a Volume TWO. (Don't forget "slide rule"!)
This is a great book - just reading some of the items brought back good memories.
If you want a trip down memory lane, this book is the way to go.