Are almanacs still necessary? Yeah, I think they are. Even though you can find exactly the thing you need on the Internet instantly, on your goddamn phone with Bing and Hotbot, an almanac is still an authoritative source of information, if not one of the definitive books of record. For my generation, and the ones before me, if something was in a book, it was true, and especially if it was in an annual, super-thick reference book with tiny type in multiple columns, like the encyclopedia, or The World Almanac and Book of Facts.
The 2013 edition is now available, and it’s still such a lot of fun to flip through the nation stats, sports records, Oscar winners, election results, and dead celebrities. I loved getting the new one of these every year, or really, when the library did, because there was no way my parents were gonna buy me one of these behemoths each year; not that we were poor or they were cheap, but because I was still pouring over my brother’s Book of Lists 1980 Expanded Edition and 1978 World Almanac Book of Facts a good 10 years after the fact. (It’s no wonder I grew up to be a trivia writer.)
This thing is exactly the way you remember, and equal parts fun to browse or look up specific things to win bar bets, although it’s so big and vast and full of succinct, objective information that it’s more fun to just thumb through it when you have an hour or four to kill. After I exhaust it as a quick desktop reference for my job writing trivia, I’m going to pass it on to my academically precocious six-year-old, who has been reading me fun facts and wanting to know “the biggest” something or “oldest” something a lot lately.