Tag Archives: Taking Things Seriously

Book Review: “Taking Things Seriously”

Glenn, Joshua and Carol Hayes, 2007. Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance, New York, Princeton Architectural Press


Although neither this book or its authors were known to me at the time of starting Things I Kept, many of the stories in this collection would have fit in nicely.  When I first learned about this book I felt a bit like Gonzo in “Muppets from Space” when he finally discovers who he is by finding others of the same species.  Without taking my things (or myself) TOO seriously, I would say that the main motivation for this Blog is summed up perfectly by the book’s introduction:

“Step into the living room, study, office, studio, or den of just about any engaged, imaginative, passionate individual and you’ll gravitate toward an item that, although it may not appear particularly valuable, is reverentially displayed as though it were a precious and irreplaceable artifact. Inquire about the object’s provenance and you’ll be treated to a lively anecdote about how it came into your host’s possession.  Keep digging, and you might crack the code of what the thing means.  Just as we are collectors of things, things are collectors of meaning.”


Proof that stories add real value to otherwise worthless objects

significant objects

Here’s an intriguing article about something called the “significant objects project”.  The brainchild of author Joshua Glenn, the project showed how fictional stories written about “nearly worthless thingamajigs” could increase their resale value (via eBay) by as much as 2,700 percent.  But the idea was no scam, in fact, the concept was completely transparent to the buyers, as no attempt was made to pass off the fictional stories as real.

Makes me wonder how much value could be added by a true story?

Mr. Glenn’s website and accompanying book Taking Things Seriously bring up a number of interesting theories about the nature of the things we keep, which I’ll be exploring in later posts.

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