Tom Scocca at Boston Globe on understanding why we’re so attracted to books about trivia, factoids, and really, useless information.
In a world where useful and important answers come looking for you, it is the idea of unimportance that is the primary selling point of the miscellanies. The books promise to guide the reader somewhere older and slower, to create a little world in which information can serve as amusement rather than currency. A carefully done miscellany appears random, but it achieves a sort of quiet intellectual bustle, set apart from the roar of the daily info-chaos. The miscellanies are information as art, and art for art’s sake.