Friday, December 07, 2007

from the annals of gender difference

This time of year: what to get mom, what to get dad. Books, book preferences--where gender differences aren't as stark as, say, in sports equipment. Yes.

Ah, but be sure, folks, when you buy books "FOR MOM" that you don't get anything that solves the world's problems--rather only the problems of one family in a way that will make you chuckle. On the other hand, "FOR DAD" buy a book about mavericks who've made important contributions to history! Yes, shop with two very separate lists. Well, I suppose this sort of booklist division by gender is a thing of the past. The following is an advertisement that appeared in the December 1946 issue of Harper's Magazine. In this special context, I love the phrase "the most gossamer of synthetics."

A Checklist of Christmas Books for the Family

Lost Men of American History by Stewart H. Holbrook. A fascinating parade of obscure or forgotten people - mavericks, unorthodox thinkers, inventors, business men - who made important contributions to America's history. "As exciting as any detective moves skillfully through the kaleidoscopic pageant of our past."--Bernard DeVoto. $3.50

Land of Promise by Walter Havighurst. Filled with legends, anecdotes, and colorful episodes, this is the history of the Old Northwest Territory, from wilderness days to the teeming present. Told by the author of The Long Ships Passing. $3.00

The Wall Between by Elsie Oakes Barber. Christy adored her husband, a handsome young minister. But her romantic dreams came tumbling down when she moved into an ugly parsonage at the edge of the city slums. This warm, human novel tells how she finally scaled the wall that religion seemed to erect between her and her husband. $2.75

Uneasy Spring by Robert Molloy. This book is guaranteed not to solve any world problems, but it does solve the problems of one American family in a way that will make you chuckle. It is about a lonely widower, a pretty young singer, a motherly widow, a pretty young singer, a motherly widow, an unhappy little boy, and a pert bobby-soxer. $2.75

America's Fabrics by Zelma Bendure and Gladys Pfieffer. This beautiful book, with more than 800 illustrations, tells the whole story of modern fabrics. It covers well over a thousand different fabrics, from heavy asbestos fire curtains to the most gossamer of synthetics. $10.00.