The Things They Fancied
In theory it’s a zine about “the sick and twisted hobbies of rich people throughout history,” but Molly Young’s The Things They Fancied doesn’t spend all its time indicting the aristocracy. As people climbed up out of poverty, Young shows, they found new ways to entertain themselves. In the 16th century, for example, Europe saw a proliferation of pets, pineapples, and porn.
In her discussion of dentistry, Young notes that public smiling was taboo in France before the late 18th century. But the proliferation of bars and coffeehouses throughout the country led more Frenchmen to socialize in public instead of at home. As people got richer, “substances historically linked to mirth,” such as booze, sugar, and tobacco, became more common. “The Enlightenment brought a blossoming of
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