The Book of Hobbies

Whether you realize it or not, odds are pretty good that you have a hobby of some kind. Most of us need something to do in our spare time, and if you do it frequently, it can be considered a hobby. You might peruse the pages of Scientific Weekly looking for the latest information on a Europe SIM card or other communications technology, or you may like to go out and take swings at the batting cages. Whatever you do, if you do it regularly, it's considered a hobby.

And hobbies are, quite obviously, what The Book of Hobbies or a Guide to Happiness by Charles Taussig. Taussig's work discusses what hobbies are, why we engage in them, and how to get started by finding a hobby you enjoy. He points out that hobbies are ubiquitous in the opening chapter, in which a group of men discuss what they would do if left to themselves in a tropical location, perhaps Troncones Mexico or somewhere similar.

Without exception, the men all mention something to occupy them in their spare time, although there are various ideas about what the ideal occupation would be. There could not be more obvious proof that hobbies are universally important to a sound mind.

What is equally as obvious, though, is that this book has been written for another audience in another age. The opening chapter is about men, and the book is clearly geared towards other men. Written in 1924, it is fairly easy to see why the volume would have this target demographic in mind. This was a time when only the very wealthy could afford vacation cottages, home plans took months to draw up, and transportation was in its most primitive state. People of either sex did not have the wide range of options we enjoy today.

And that range of options brings up another failing of this book in regards to the modern world. People today have a choice of hobbies which extends far beyond the traditional top 20 or so mentioned in this book. Even those limited hobbies are left stranded in the past in these pages; what good are tips on ancient photography to the wedding photographer in Mississauga who is equipped with the latest digital equipment? While photography is still very much a part of today's hobby landscape, the detail and care of its beginnings are something which have been left behind.

That said, The Book of Hobbies does contain some informational gems for those looking for a link to the past, in their hobbies and their lives. It is written at a level far superior to what we in the Information Age have become accustomed to. If you are looking for the perfect description of a photo of landscaping, Niagara Falls or anywhere else, this is the place to find it.

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