Book of the Day club: June 2008 Archives

Just plain wacky

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If you were a kid in the mid-'70s, it's likely you collected Wacky Packs, as we all referred to them. (Officially they were/are Wacky Packages.) They came packaged like baseball cards — complete with the not-so-fresh, sugar-coated stick of bubble gum — and for a short time were more popular.

The famed Series One through Series Seven (from 1973-74) have been put together in book form to celebrate the phenomenon's 35th anniversary. Wacky Packages (Abrams, 239 pages, $19.95) will perhaps take you back to a time when you started looking at life askance — and never looked back.

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As you can see here, the Topps company tapped into our most depraved sensibilities with their product parodies. And the accompanying artwork by guys like Norm Saunders, Bill Griffith, Kim Deitch, Art Spiegelman and Chicago artist Jay Lynch became embedded in our brains.

Spiegelman and Lynch provide the introduction and afterword, respectively. "The dopey gags came easily. This was a dream job," writes Spiegelman. "Yessirree — I am proud to have been a worker in the debased basement of the great temple of commerce that is America's popular culture."

Lynch sums it up: "Thirty-five years later, they're still funny. What more could we hope for?"


Trash find turns into literary treasure

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Chicago native Lily Koppel went Dumpster diving in her Manhattan neighborhood and came up with a treasure trove of memories in the form of a diary from the 1930s. Koppel tracked down the writer of the diary, Florence Wolfson, who is now 90 and living in Florida. Through interviews with Florence and entries from the diary, Koppel has crafted The Red Leather Diary (Harper, 336 pages, $23.95), a story of a curious, creative Upper East Side young woman in Depression-era Manhattan.

Red Leather Diary

Check out the video of Elizabeth Brackett's conversation with Koppel on WTTW-Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight" last week.

What your stuff says about you

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A coworker of mine has a miniature curling stone on his desk. Next to that are four fake ice cubes. I'm not sure what that says about him but if I started scrutinizing all the other things on his desk — toy Tigger, "Star Wars" characters, rubber creepy things, press pass to David Letterman appearance (not that I'm snooping while he's on vacation or anything) — I could probably come up with some kind of psychological profile.

Author and noted psychologist Sam Gosling says the stuff we own and how we arrange it can say more about us than even our most intimate conversations with our closest friends. And he's written a book about it: Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You (Basic Books, 250, $25).

What Your Stuff Says About You

Gosling and his team of researchers looked not only on desk tops but also through closets, iPods, refrigerators, Facebook profiles, underneath beds, in purses, bookshelves and more. Through their snooping, we readers should be able to figure out things like how committed our co-workers are and how reliable our new boyfriend or girlfriend is.

Good luck!

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Book of the Day club category from June 2008.

Book of the Day club: May 2008 is the previous archive.

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