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Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  28 reviews
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 Seriou

Paperback, 174 pages
Published August 9th 2007 by Princeton Archit.Press
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  121 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Ross McLean
I love trying to figure out the stories behind objects.

I once saw a nice pair of nice black women's heels sitting in a neat pair on the side of the road, by a fenced-in soccer field. About a week later I saw the same pair of heels, still in a neat pair, but on the other side of the fence. Now, the entrance was all the way on the other side of the field, so someone had to have picked them up, walked all the way around the field, placed them down on the other side, and then presumably walked all
M. D.  Hudson
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I got this book because Joshua Glenn used to edit, as he calls it in his contributor note, "the zine and journal Hermenaut." (p. 171). What is the difference between a zine and a journal? So many things I never understood! But whatever it was, Hermenaut was wonderful - although I came across it late in its run, c. 1999, I still treasure the three issues I have - never a subscriber, I bought mine at the local independent book store (yeah, long gone now). It was pop culture hip and philosophical a ...more
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Editorial Reviews

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.'" (August 5, 2007)
"...the project is beautifully executed in boxy paperback form. This would make a good gift for everyones favorite oddb
I ordered this book after seeing its title listed in another book, Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, a fascinating read that lead me to recording the wind in the cottonwoods across the road while matching yarns on a color card to the various colors on the trunk and lower branches of a honey locust-browns, grays, blue, yellow.... which then lead me to drawing the road as a design of stitches showing various textures. This one is a continuation of seeing things through a new lense.

US, most
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is something rare and stunningly intimate, a collection of extremely short pieces composed of writing on one page, and at least one photo on the opposite, describing an object that the author has a particular relationship with - a collection of bizarre talismans, made meaningful only through the lens of personal experience.

This book is not for everyone, but if you like short personal narratives about odd things, zines, or insights into people's personal lives, it's for you.
Carly Laird
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, quirky little book. Glenn has collected a wonderful arrangement of objects and stories to go along with them that give the pages the life of a hundred human lives, each as unique as the objects they've come to love. It makes me think about the value we place in little, seemingly arbitrary things and the stories we create for ourselves to imbue even the smallest moments of our lives with rich meaning. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is great fun! Little objects of questionable worth except to their owners found or obtained in interesting ways. Reading it made me think of the objects that I have that fit this bill.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This was a lovely collection with a surprisingly smart introduction. The titular "things" range in size and scope, united only by the fact they would appear as useless junk to all but their owners. Each thing is accompanied by a short article by its owner, illuminating its significance. In most cases, the meaning of the objects is connected with the context in which it was purchased or discovered. Often, other people are evoked by the object (a gift from someone, the person who the owner was wit ...more
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
princeton architectural press! 75 diff. authors. In my youth I loved looking through my fathers curio box. Its my earliest experience with things that I thought had some talismanic power. I loved the smell and look and feel of his pocketknife, scout badges, and compass. Maybe those things have "expected significance" and therefore wouldn't have made it in the book. But I like other peoples little things that have been loved. however, I don't care much for clutter myself and can't really be bothe ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
We got this book as a gift because my husband's cousin has an essay in it but that's not the only reason I liked it (though of course Rex's piece is great.) It's a collection of short essays on objects that are significant to their owners. Some are profound, some amusing. One of them (a description of a glass jar) perfectly expressed how I feel about certain objects in my life - the beautiful shape of the jar's sides, its perfect distance from screw threads to top. ...more
Most of the book gets 4 stars.

The story/essay about the turtle gets nothing.
I don't think it even belongs in the book.

The guy thought making little kids cry was funny?
He tells the story to family, the little kid cries.
He tells it again to another family, the kid cries.
You'd think by now he'd think it might be inappropriate
for little kids.
No. Another little kid has to cry.
Who knows how many times he's chuckled through telling
this story,dragging the turtle tail around.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it liked it
a beautifully designed book about quirky objects and people's relationships to them. the essays were a bit short for me...most of them only 3 or four paragraphs long (is that even called an essay?). and, i wish there were a bio section for the writers...but at least the editors seemed to take careful consideration as to not select objects in banal categories (i.e. my childhood toy, something my mom/dad/girlfriend/boyfriend gave me, my first ______, etc.). ...more
Benjamin Chandler
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a charming little book that April introduced to me. Each page presents someone's precious object, usually something quite esoteric—like an old toy, an antique, or a bit of obsolete machinery. The owner of the object writes a small essay about their relationship with the thing. Sometimes it's funny; usually it's touching. ...more
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was a mixed bag. I really enjoyed the introduction with talks of the psychology of objects and the meanings we give them—I look forward to reading more about that.

The book itself was full of quick blurbs about random objects. Fun and interesting to an extent, but full of ups and downs.

Ironically, not a book I'd hold on to.
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: stuff-lovers who need quick bedside reading.
Well, the key to having a revered object is to only have one. Those in the book with collections are far less poignant. For the most part well written (edited), it is a quick read that makes you glad you don't have a piece junk as a talisman (until you realize you actually do have a piece of junk as a talisman...) ...more
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Anne gave me this fun little book. I am going to pass it along to Roger and Teddy next. All lovers of funny objects would enjoy reading this book on the bus or subway.

I think the "Jig Saw Jr." was the funniest.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is so gorgeous. Beautiful, simple, charming design. Also, it's a good read. A collection of photos of random objects along with the stories of how they entered their owners lives. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Some really poignant, mundane objects belonging to creative individuals. I rather liked the tin of hairpins a writer kept as a token of his passionate affair with another woman. Stuff like that just makes you smile at the wonders of life, all its angst, happiness and sheer surrealism!
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, favorites
i loved it! maybe because i take things too seriously. nevertheless i recommend it for restroom reading.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is the type of book you pick up and read and then set down again and pick it up again a few months later.....
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A book of essays about interesting objects and the significance they have to their owners. It's a wonderful window into how we infuse ordinary things with meaning and even a sense of sacredness. ...more
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Everyone seems to have 1 bizarre piece of crap that they just can't part with for reasons meaningful only to them. I love that. ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the books that I used to support my Master Thesis .
reading is my hustle
Small, pretty book of pictures and essays about "stuff" and why it is important. ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really expected to be much more charmed by this book than I was. I was maybe 10% charmed. More like mildly interested. Cool idea; execution could have been so much cooler.
Jul 31, 2010 rated it liked it
1 page vignettes: object, story
A couple are bizarre and terribly funny.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I'm in this thing! ...more
Carol Suelzle
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book of two page sets, a picture of something unusual, and the story that goes along with that object. Some are sad, some are strange, all are interesting.
rated it really liked it
Apr 27, 2016
Andrew Haarsager
rated it liked it
May 06, 2018
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