IA Book of the Week: Why Don't You Get Married?

Each week the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many collections digitized online on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at a book from our Canadiana Collection.

It is fair to say that we could all use a good laugh once in a while. Norris Hodgins, author of “Why don’t you get married: a Hodge-Podge of Sketches, a few Wise, Many Witty and all Wholesome,” took advantage of this notion in 1923. The author even begins the book with a witty dedication “to anyone who has two dollars to invest in literature.” There is also a cartoon with a joke depicted on the frontispiece.

Hodgins starts his book with a brief introduction where he explains his intentions behind creating the book. He laments that many people “suffer grievously from attacks of gloom,” and that he has been seeking a means in which to combat this. The solution was to create a book filled with short stories, anecdotes, and cartoons guaranteed to cure anyone’s boredom. He also suggests that it can be read just about anywhere. Readers can choose to enjoy this cure for malaise in bed, on the train, out in the hammock, and more. If one takes absolutely no joy from reading it, Hodgins states that there is always the satisfaction of knowing that they could have written a better book themselves.

Following a half-page of acknowledgements, there is a table of contents. “Why don’t you get married” contains 41 chapters, with 265 pages total to entertain the reader. There is also a list of the images in the book with their corresponding page numbers. Chapter titles are short and sweet, often not including much information so as to intrigue the reader and encourage them to dive in to find out more. Some of these titles include, “Bugs We Could Do Without,” “Scientific Stuff,” “The Bovine Kleptomaniac,” and “Cultivating a Taste for Olives.”

The title of the book is in reference to the very first chapter: “The Marriage Question – and the Bachelors’ Reply.” This appears to be the only chapter though that is about marriage, while the rest is truly a “hodge-podge.” With so many chapters and topics found throughout, there is truly something for everybody. This was Hodgins’ intention: to make sure that the book appealed to a wide array of individuals, so there would always be something to make someone laugh.

- Rachael Fraser, TALint student