Friday, December 17, 2010

Let's Bring Back: An encyclopedia of forgotten-yet-delightful, chic, useful, curious, and otherwise commendable things from times gone Lesley M. M. Blume

This encyclopedia of nostalgia honors the timeless tradition of artful living.  It is based on the author's popular Huffington Post column of the same name and features entries from many contemporary icons like Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington.  It celebrates hundreds of discarded or forgotten objects, pastimes, curiosities, recipes, words, architectural works, etc. from bygone eras that the author believes should be reintroduced today.

Blume warns us, lest we get the wrong idea, that this book is not about stopping the clock or extolling the virtues of simpler times.  Times have never been simple.  And it's not just about nostalgia for nostalgia's sake alone.  Looking back in the right way can help us to intelligently look forward as well.  It makes us preservation-minded, astute observers of contemporary culture and helps us evaluate what traditions, heirlooms, and elements of our own lifestyles and households we want to pass on to the next generation.  It makes us consider why we value an object or ritual one day and forsake it the next.

I love the humor inherent in her entries.  For example, DRAWBRIDGES AND MOATS, is one entry...followed by "For the privacy-minded homeowner:  These features are much more creative than the been-there-done-that two-story hedge."  Here's another one, LONG HAIR ON WOMEN OF ADVANCED YEARS "There seems to be a mandate that women must crop their hair into short, frumpola styles when they reach a certain age.  I'd hate to think that this was an implicit social commentary about older women losing their feminity and sensuality, requiring them to craft themselves into sexless objects.  My grandmother had waist-length hair for her entire adult life, and even in her nineties, she still wore it up in an elegant, dignified French twist; sometimes she'd cross two long braids over the crown of her head, or wind them into a bun at the base of her neck.  Nothing is more beautiful than torrents of silver or ghost-white hair; it reminds me of unicorn manes."

A fast, easy, and delightful read with passages that you will linger over.

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