Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The People’s Almanac #3

From the diary: “November 9, 1981

“Sunday I went downtown and got The People’s Almanac #3 with the $10 in Birthday money Mom gave me.”

I remember an adult Oz club friend came to visit earlier that fall. He pressed me about going to college. I so loathed school that choosing to go to college looked like voluntarily signing up to extend a prison sentence. My mother, trying to make peace, noted my reading, a self-education course as good, perhaps, as what I was getting in public school. I had both The People’s Almanac and The People’s Almanac #2 and would dip into them and read tidbits about historical figures and such. One of the authors of the Almanacs, David Wallechinsky, was also responsible for a bit of an 80s craze, The Book of Lists, which hit the best seller list and spawned many sequels and imitations and probably helped usher in the triumph of trivia, exemplified by the board game Trivial Pursuit.

I don’t know how to describe The People’s Almanac except to say it was almost a reference work. But it was more a collection of fun and quirky stuff than an education in a book. Each of the books was fat and I couldn’t quite sit reading them page by page. Rather, they seemed to reward best as boxes of snacks.

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