The Evolution of Useful Things

Put on the kettle & read!
by HENRY PETROSKI | History |
ISBN: 9780679740391 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 1/25/2020
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, January 25, 2020
I got this softcover from a local Salvation Army thrift shop, for another release copy.

I like reading about the origins and evolution of mundane items, and this book's all about that, from paper clips to Phillips head screwdrivers. The author compares the possible evolution of forks vs. chopsticks as eating utensils; discusses the process by which knives went from the primary eating utensil to being limited to cutting or spreading (and with an amusing historical note as to why table knives have blunt tips). Farther on in the book there's a chapter about "patterns of proliferation," touching on the many and varied serving implements developed during the Victorian era (many of which I recall learning about via Miss Manners' amusing and entertaining etiquette column - she grants that people only need a few basic pieces to serve and eat meals properly, but delights in some of the more obscure items such as grape scissors).

There's a chapter on the development of the tin can for preserving food, explaining everything from the rim to the ridges on the sides. And the use of tins demanded - eventually - the development of can openers, which have their own little details, with peel-off lids and pop-tops following.

The author uses the delightful word "thingophile" to describe himself and others who are interested in - well, things, and how they got the way they are. (This was in a chapter that touched on the development of Post-it notes and masking tape.) And he touches on his own occasional reluctance to embrace new technology with a nostalgic bit about his dislike for the first push-button phones; only later did he find that he no longer missed the tedious dialing {wry grin}.

There are illustrations, notes, an extensive bibliography, and an index (so you can look up your favorite gadget). Entertaining and informative!

Released 1 mo ago (1/27/2020 UTC) at Little Free Library, Elm Rd. and Sherman Ave. in Devens, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

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