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What a Gem

I recently bought a copy of “Speck: A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things” by Peter Buchanan-Smith at a library book sale. I'd never heard of the book or the author.

What a treasure for those of us interested in creativity. The book is composed of collections people have made of things so common most of don’t notice them.

For example, Robert Lemons decided to test the utility of a bread crumb trail (like Hansel and Gretel) in Manhattan. He left slices of wonder bread as trail markers across the city and then went back to see how many of them survived. He documented the experiment and reached the conclusion that bread pieces were "surprisingly durable" as trail makers:

Mark Ulriksen from San Francisco noticed that people misspelled his name on a regular basis, so he collected the many misspellings. My last name is also misspelled, ranging from Eisley to Fisley (my favorite), but I've never thought of collecting the variations:

One last example. Ian Phillips and Grant Heaps collected missing animal signs, the sort of thing you see taped to posts in the neighborhood. Many of them are touching,but some are mystifying, like this one:

How did the dog get out? Was it ever found? There's a story here.

This book was a reminder to me that the world provides an overwhelming multitude of opportunities for creativity, especially in our every day lives. Whether you think of yourself as creative or not, this book is a delight.

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