How Small Things Illuminate the World
By: Simon Garfield
Narrated by: Adrian Scarborough
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (March 2019)
Length: 256 pages
Runtime: 7 hours and 3 minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Bestselling, award-winning writer Simon Garfield returns with an enthralling investigation of humans’ peculiar fascination with small things—and what small things tell us about our larger world.
“[Simon Garfield is] an exuberant truffle-hound of the recondite and delightful factoid.” —Sunday Times (London)
Simon Garfield writes books that shine a light on aspects of the everyday world in order to reveal the charms and eccentricities hiding in plain sight around us. After beguiling fans with books about everything from typography to time, from historic maps to the color mauve, he’s found his most delightful topic yet: miniatures.
Tiny Eiffel Towers. Platoons of brave toy soldiers. A doll’s house created for a Queen. Diminutive crime scenes crafted to catch a killer. Model villages and miniscule railways. These are just a few of the objects you will discover in the pages of In Miniature.
Bringing together history, psychology, art, and obsession, Garfield explores what fuels the strong appeal of miniature objects among collectors, modelers, and fans. The toys we enjoy as children invest us with a rare power at a young age, conferring on us a taste of adult-sized authority. For some, the desire to play with small things becomes a desire to make small things. We live in a vast and uncertain world, and controlling just a tiny, scaled-down part of it restores our sense of order and worth.
As it explores flea circuses, microscopic food, ancient tombs, and the Vegas Strip, In Miniature changes the way we perceive our surroundings, encouraging all of us to find greatness in the smallest of things.
Miniatures can serve as tools for propaganda, as a conduit religious beliefs, education and play, understanding the past, a release for creativity, etc. I’ve always been attracted to them and love the technical challenge of getting the most realistic result. I also like Adrian Scarborough; he has great comedic timing and a sprightly delivery. I know him most from the show Blunt Talk, with Patrick Stewart. He was Stewart’s character’s sidekick and a great part of the show.
So when I saw that he was narrating a book about miniatures how could I resist? He does a super job narrating what can onl
I could find nothing in the publisher’s website, on Amazon or Audible that says there is a companion file. This is important, because the book is a reference toa visual thing. It’s like reading a book about paintings without any pictures of the paintings. If there is a file offering the same pictures in the book, I would be thrilled, but I cannot locate any such thing. It;s not the first time I’ve come across this issue; it may be that it is not available to reviewers and not mentioned im advance to purchasers. The lack of visuals really limited my enjoyment, and the effectiveness of the writer’s work. Not even Scarborough’s winsome narration could save the experience for me.
Otherwise, Garfield does an exceptional job writing a nearly 340 page book looking at why we are attracted to the tiny imitations of larger items. I particularly liked his discussion of how the Eiffel Tower spawn the miniature souvenir industry. His discussion of miniature books seemed to point out that sometimes miniatures are silly. He takes a tall look at a subject about small things.
But, it does go on, and on. And without the break of images nor the ability to leaf back and forth to connect the dots Garfield makes. I do recommend the book, but if there is no visual provided I don’t recommend the audio version.