Taking Things Seriously
75 Objects with Unexpected Significance
Joshua Glenn, Carol Hayes
Temporarily out of stock
Publication date 10/10/2007
5.5 x 7 inches (14.0 x 17.8 cm), Paperback
176 pages, 85 color illustrations
Carton qty: 40;
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We all have something in our lives that while not obviously valuable, is displayed as though it were a precious and irreplaceable artifact. Inquire about the object's provenance and you'll likely be treated to a lively anecdote about how it came into your host's possession. Keep digging, and you might even crack the code of what the thing really means.
Taking Things Seriously is a wonder cabinet of seventy-five unlikely thingamajigs that have been invested with significance and transformed into totems, talismans, charms, relics, and fetishes: scraps of movie posters scavenged from the streets of New York by Low Life author Luc Sante; the World War I helmet that inoculated social critic Thomas Frank against jingoism; the trash-picked, robot-shaped hairdo machine described by its owner as a chick magnet; the bagel burned by actor Christopher Walken, moonlighting as a short-order cook. The owners of these objects convey their excitement in short, often poignant essays that invite readers to participate in the enjoyable act of interpreting things. You'll never look at the bric-a-brac on your shelves the same way again.
Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer and editor, currently for The Boston Globe. He was editor and publisher of Hermenaut, a philosophy and pop culture zine described as "one of the few truly indispensable critical forums of the 1990s." He has been a columnist for the Boston Globe's Ideas section, The Idler (UK), Feed.com, and The London Observer. He has also contributed to the journals n+1 and The Baffler.
Carol Hayes is an award-winning designer and artist who has worked for Open, Little Brown, the Sundance Channel, Nickelodeon, and Domino Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn.
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"In the right place at the right time, even the most useless object can attain life-changing significance. This delightful, often hilarious new book gives us 75 such examples of such things taken seriously ... quotidian items imbued with highly personal emotional power."
"As the old sayings go, art is in the eye of the beholder and one person's junk is another person's treasure.Taking Things Seriously is a fun, off-center collection of objects and stories that will have you looking at the objects around you with fresh eyes and strange questions, like "Would Christopher Walken autograph my burned bagel?" or "Is it a good thing to get military ordnance for your birthday?""
"A book like Taking Things Seriously could have gone badly pretty quickly. Invite a bunch of people you know to submit a story about an object that inspires you. Ask enough people and soon enough you have a book. If youre into name dropping it gets to a point where you dont follow the stories as much as seeing who was and wasnt invited. The thing with this book is that it really doesnt feel like that. The objects and stories come off genuinely, not as a contrived look at how clever I am etc. story example. [...] it will make you look around your own surroundings and make you ask yourself what inspires you?http://designnotes.info/?p=1118"
"delightfully offbeat and entertaining... All of the objects--captured by various photographers, including Hayes--are evocative, as are the stories behind them."
Time Out Chicago:
"It's a fun read that inspires serious questions about how our own stuff gives our lives and relationships meaning."
"It has been a while since a book has mesmerized me this much! One of my new favorites!http://swissmiss.typepad.com/weblog/2007/09/taking-things-s.html"
Boston's Weekly Dig:
"...a visual and literary curio cabinet, a scattershot collection of "75 objects with unexpected significance.""
"For those whove reached their saturation point with over-designed objects devoid of meaning, Joshua Glenns new book is a celebration of mundane objects that were never intended to mean anything, but took on a life of their own. From a soda bottle that inspired a comic strip to a hairdo machine thats a ladies magnet, each object comes with the story of why one person cant let it go. Deftly designed by Carol Hayes, the paperback serves as a cabinet of curiosities.http://www.dwell.com/products/books"
New England Antiques Journal:
"Taking Things Seriously is a wonder cabinet of 75 unlikely thingamajigs that have been invested with significance and transformed into totems, talismans, charms, relics, and fetishes...The owners of these objects convey their excitement in short, often poignant essays that invite readers to participate in the enjoyable act of interpreting things. You'll never look at the bric-a-brac on your shelves the same way again."
NYmag.com Daily Intel:
"Food, even of the most exalted kind, is rarely long for this world. Occasionally, some baron of gastronomy will announce that the floorboards in his new restaurant were salvaged from the original automat, or some credulous soul will make the News of the Weird by seeing the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. But food and cooking objects tend toward the ephemeral. Which is one reason we are so enjoying Taking Things Seriously, a new collection of essays about particular treasures.http://nymag.com/daily/food/2007/09/new_book_honors_old_bagels_and.html"
The Must List, Entertainment Weekly:
"The Must List #9. Proving one man's trash is another's treasure, this collection of photos and essays shows how the unlikliest of things can provide inspiration."
Priceless, Los Angeles Times Book Review:
"a wonderfully eccentric collection of things and thought-provoking essays that underscore French philosopher Bruno Latous 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."
— Kristina Lindgren
"..the project is beautifully executed in boxy paperback form. This would make a good gift for everyones favorite oddball.http://www.scrubbles.net/2007/09/16/book-review-taking-things-seriously/"
"In an age when we're obsessed with the design, provenance, and value of every objects around us, these 75 short essays and photographs honor those magical, mysterious items that wiggle their way into our lives, and somehow into our hearts....eclectic group of creatives who eloquently describe their little pieces of Nothing Special--and why they mean everything to them."
" Taking Things Seriously is good fun. And it'd make an excellent stocking stuffer for your favorite ephemera lover this upcoming holiday season. "
"This lovely little book from Princeton Architectural Press helped us understand that, in fact, our inexplicable attachment to a dirty white plush duck and the rhinestone horseshoe ring given to us by a boy named Seth in eighth grade is just part of the human drive and capacity to invest inanimate objects with meaning. Our tschotschkes are no different from the ones so gorgeously shot for this book, the treasured objects of writers, artists, and other deep types."
"Taking Things Seriously is good fun. And it'd make an excellent stocking stuffer for your favorite ephemera lover this upcoming holiday season.http://ephemera.typepad.com/ephemera/2007/09/taking-things-s.html"
"Is it possible to be in love with a book? Yes. Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance is the object of my affections...all the entries are equally well-written, humourous, insightful and quirky. This book is something to treasure."
"...the project is beautifully executed in boxy paperback form. This would make a good gift for everyones favorite oddball."
"...a series of 75 very well written, entertaining two-or-three-paragraph long essays by as many different people, most of whose names I didn't recognize, about objects that acquired significance in their lives, often via strange and inexplicable series of events."
"In all, sounds like a thoughtful take on on material culture (which is, of course, my beat, so Im a little biased about why I think this project is such a good idea) by an interesting bunch of contributors including Paul Lukas, Thomas Frank, and Luc Sante. I was also pleased to learn recently about Glenns Brainiac blog on the Boston Globe site, where hes got a post listing all contributors and a running account of praise received.http://www.murketing.com/journal/?p=752"
"Glenn and Hayes smartly highlighted the bizarre and unlikely, creating a visual cabinet of curiosity consisting of 75 treasured objects submitted by outside contributors, along with the stories behind each of them. In an era when everyone blogs about what they had for breakfast, we've all seen enough of other people's manias, but artifacts like writer John F. Kelly's moldy bagel once burnt by Chistopher Walken, cartoonist Mark Newgarden's Mickey Mouse bubble-bath bottle, or artist Kristine Cortese's rock wrapped in in a pie tin might be just weird enough to become our own obsessions."
Domy Books blog:
"Subtitled "75 Objects With Unexpected Significance," Taking Things Seriously examines the personal significance of a range of objects, from small to large. Each of the contributors was asked to write a short essay on some object in their living space that held a deep relevance to their lives. What results is a collective Wunderkammer. From bear-shaped lamps to car headlamp knobs, these objects are talismans against evil, items of meditation and tokens of love, or even hate. There is something of the uncanny in each of these objects, as if they glow with an aura of importance. I found myself wanting the bear lamp, for instance. Each of these things, despite being inanimate, hold power over their owners. http://www.domystore.com/blog/"
"The book is a touching read, proving that mundane objects, like lives, often have surprising stories to tell."
"Thank you Princeton Architectural Press for sending over this book yesterday! It is a new favorite. [...] You will enjoy this book and if not for the nice matte pictures and great often funny writing, then for how well designed it is. How beautiful is that cover?! Pick up a copy here.http://www.book-by-its-cover.com/other/taking-things-seriously"
New York Times Book Review:
"Short essays about treasured possessions, by artists, designers, writers and performers. The cartoonist and musician recalls playing with an assortment of rubber animals as a boy, 'acting out battles, domestic scenes, everything.' But the star was always Sunshine, above: 'one special little yellow pig.'"
"It has been a while since a book has mesmerized me this much! One of my new favorites!"
"Taking Things Seriously is a process, an experience in looking and interpreting, reminding us to take a good look at all the ordinary things around and to realize that they are each far more just that.http://www.fiveandahalf.net/blog/2007/09/17/75-objects-with-unexpected-significance/"
""...the books have become personally significant objects..""...aesthetically pleasing, from its thick, smooth paper to the artful snapshots of each object...""
"a collection of the crazy junk-pile finds, creepy childhood momentos, and sundry souvenirs that have accrued meaning in their owners lives...... The soul wanted what it wanted."
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