Anna Jane Grossman's Obsolete was a book I was really looking forward to reading, an encyclopedia of the devices of the past that are no longer used or needed: slide rules, typewriters and such. Unfortunately, you can't always get what you want.
In format, this book is a list of various items that Grossman has designated as obsolete, often with some snarky description of the item. Okay, her humor rarely worked for me, but that is a rather subjective thing. On other, more objective levels, this book fails to live up to its potential.
For one thing, there are clearly items missing, ones that should definitely be in a book like this. Slide rules certainly fit in the "obsolete" category; at one time an essential calculation device, it has since been replaced by calculators and computers which do better jobs at a faster pace. How about tapes? Cassettes, eight-tracks and reel-to-reels are all worthy of mention but are neglected (although she doles mention mix tapes).
Grossman also describes items as obsolete that are really just styles that have fallen out of fashion. Yes, short basketball shorts are no longer used, but not because they are obsolete, but rather just because they are not the style of the moment. Grossman also lists items she may wish were obsolete but aren't there yet, such as books or cash. And then there are layaway purchases: maybe they have fallen out of use, but they're actually making a comeback in this shaky economy.
From a writing standpoint, Obsolete is okay but nothing special. Since it fails to deliver on what it promises, however, I have to rate this with two stars. This book is sadly a disappointment.