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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

on June 10, 2017
I love the diversity in objects, writing, and style of the essays. They are short, pithy, and accompanied by a lovely photo of the item discussed. I found it uplifting and inspiring. A great collection of modern form essays.
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on July 15, 2008
Most readers will wish, as I did, that THEY had thought to compile and edit a book like this. Or at least that they had been called upon to contribute an essay to this collection of photos and stories about objects of particular and unexpected significance to the individuals. Intriguing stuff. Most of us have equally fascinating and quirky objects we've trucked around for years or even decades. I will share the book with friends who dabble in writing. We should have fun identifying our own special objects and using the concept of analyzing their importance as both a writing exercise and a way to share our idiosyncrasies. (Why DO I cling to that brass drain cover from the urinal at an abandoned mine?)
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on February 3, 2014
I thought the objects would have unexpected significance in a world wide context, not special significance to individuals. I'd much rather learn how paper clips changed the world . . .
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on March 17, 2011
Trash digger, dumpster diver, urban scavenger-repurposer, call me what you like; I happen to have a keen eye for the potential of an object of which another person has relinquished ownership. Not necessarily its monetary potential (even though I've sold many salvaged finds) but something closer to what Kant called Ding an sich: the thing, as it is unto itself. One man's trash, removed from its place under his distorting lenses of perception and conceptualization, can be viewed afresh with the new sense of meaning imprinted by another -- a treasure.

While the seventy-five objects given to us in Taking Things Seriously weren't all hauled out of someones's refuse or found abandoned by the side of the road, each has a mysterious pull, like gravity, that draws our attention and inquiry. Each has a story. It may be the story its current custodian regales us with as we open to a page of this stimulating omnium gatherum, or it may not, yet we are nevertheless compelled by inevitable curiosity to consider whys and wherefores. For me, it was all about the sand clown. Buy the book and you'll understand.

This is a lovely, unobtrusive volume that would be a fine addition to your coffee table collection or nightstand stack. Additionally, it would make an ideal gift for the person who believes she has everything and could benefit from a reminder that there's fantastic, beautiful, and confounding diversity within the near-limitless realm of stuff.
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on September 5, 2007
I'm very pleased with the critical response! This book would make an excellent gift, and it was supposed to come out nearer to the holiday season for that reason... but then all these nice reviews appeared! So it was rushed to bookstores and Amazon. Official pub. date: Sept. 5, 2007.

On July 6, 2007, Mark Frauenfelder, author of Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet---Better, Faster, Easier (and editor of Boing Boing and MAKE: Technology on Your Time) posted a sneak preview of the book to Boing Boing. Excerpt: "My friend Joshua Glenn was the founder of one of my favorite zines, Hermenaut. He edited a new book called Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance... I've read some samples from the book and they're wonderful."

On August 5, the New York Times Book Review and LA Times Book Review both praised Taking Things Seriously. Here's an excerpt from the LA Times review: "Why do certain things charm us so? In their new book, Taking Things Seriously, Boston Globe columnist Joshua Glenn and designer Carol Hayes delve into this 'human drive and capacity to invest inanimate objects with meaning.' They asked artists, designers, writers and thinkers to contribute photos of their precious belongings and explain their significance.... The result is a wonderfully eccentric collection of 'things' and thought-provoking essays that underscore French philosopher Bruno Latour's challenge to regard objects as more than merely matters of fact but, Glenn writes in his introduction, as 'an association, a network, a gathering' of meaning and ideas."

On August 18, the Toronto Globe & Mail's John Allemang wrote: "In Taking Things Seriously, 75 items of otherwise lowly ambition are given the respect they deserve -- a couch arm-rest, stained with burns, where a belated mother used to rest her cigarette-smoking hand, a defunct film-editing machine that carries memories of a philosophy classmate gone round the bend, a pious sampler with one simple needle-pointed command: THOUGHTS."

On August 19, the Toronto Star featured "Taking Things Seriously" in its Ideas section. Ryan Bigge wrote: "The mundane items of Taking Things Seriously are transformed into the extraordinary through the explanations of their owners. Call it narrative alchemy.... The book also functions as a grown-up version of show and tell. Many of the book's contributors were involved with Hermenaut, a philosophy and pop-culture journal that Glenn edited and published from 1992 until 2000. Perhaps as a result of their shared history, the stories are emotionally generous, detailing divorces, death and lost love."

On August 30, Fantagraphics art director and lead designer Jacob Covery (editor of Beasts!) posted some kind words about "Taking Things Seriously" to the Fantagraphics blog, FLOG. Excerpt: "Consider the contributor list just from the world of comics: Tony Millionaire, Bill Griffith, James Kochalka, Mark Newgarden, and (yet another talented designer) Helene Silverman (of the Fantagraphics' Jimbo series and the flocked covers of We All Die Alone). These are busy people and I love when busy people make time for 'emotionally generous stories.'"

On August 31, business-and-anthropology guru Rob Walker, who writes The New York Times Magazine's "Consumed" column, wrote on his blog that Taking Things Seriously "sounds like a thoughtful take on on material culture (which is, of course, my beat, so I'm a little biased about why I think this project is such a good idea)."

On September 1, Maisonneuve, a magazine dedicated to "eclectic curiosity," described the book as "a funny, fascinating and touching book documenting the stories behind seventy-five weird and wonderful objects people treasure," and launched a Significant Objects contest.

On September 3, the Montreal Gazette published a very nice essay titled "Some Objects Are Worth Their Weight In Memories," which described several essays from Taking Things Seriously and called it a "lovely book."

On September 4, the Raincoast Books blog noted: "Artists, writers, designers, musicians, among many others, contribute their objects and try to explain their significance in the book. From everyday objects like a cocktail glass or a cigar box, to the more surprising such as a dirt pile or a one-hundred-pound practice bomb, it is a truly fascinating insight into the things that inspire and motivate our creativity."
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on October 16, 2007
This was such a delightful read. Each of these (mostly short) essays extols a particular object which might, at first glance, seem like a piece of junk. But it turns out that junk is in the eye of beholder. The uplifting moral of the book is that the best "things" aren't the most expensive or shiniest or rarest. They are the ones with the most personal significance. Highly recommended.
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on September 18, 2007
If you are somebody that enjoys things or objects, or even if you don't, this book is great fun to read. If you know somebody that tends to find interest in life - you should buy this book for them. If you know somebody that does not tend to find interest in life - you should buy this book for them, maybe it will help.
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on September 26, 2007
This book is a real original. It's great to pick up and enjoy, then pick it up again later and enjoy some more.
It encompasses something everyone does and hardly anyone really thinks about...hoarding/collecting stuff that is really important only to you. It puts a perspective on people's emotional ties to sometimes useless things. I had a lot fun reading it and sharing it.
Pat D.
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on September 5, 2007
What a gem! This is easily one of my favorite books of the year. Elegantly written adorned with beautiful images, I implore you to rush right out and buy a copy for youself--and another for a friend! Top notch stuff here. It's a keeper!
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on September 16, 2007
A beautifully presented collection of bite-sized insights into objects and the minds of their owners. A coffee table without this book is a naked coffee table.
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